Students respond to Catholic school plans

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STUDENTS at St Benedict’s Catholic Upper School are fighting to have their views heard over the restructuring of Catholic schools in Bury St Edmunds.

Current students Claudia Snudden, 18, Maria Collender, 17, Andrew Gayfer, 17, and past pupils Dada Qin, 19, and Xiao Xiao Qin, 19, have written a detailed response to Suffolk County Council’s plans, arguing there is a better way to structure the system.

The group have also organised a petition signed by 286 pupils.

The students handed their counter-proposal and petition to Suffolk County Council, the diocese and MP David Ruffley on April 11 and are awaiting a response.

The move comes after the diocese announced plans to restructure the Catholic schools in the area from a three to a two-tier system.

The students argue that they have not made an effort to seek the opinions of the school’s pupils and that they have been kept in the dark during the decision process.

Claudia, a Year 13 student, said: “The main reason we wanted to do something was because we had not been told what was going on. We wanted to take up the issues and have a chance to give our opinion.

“The petition was set up to see how many students at the school were interested in the issues – and it proved to be a lot.

“These decisions may not affect us five personally but we have had such a great education and believe future students deserve it too.

“The teachers at the schools have taught us so much and we have such a strong relationship with the school system we felt we had to get our views across.”

The proposed plans are that St Edmunds Catholic Primary School will take children from reception age to Year 6 and that St Benedict’s will take children from Year 7 to Year 13.

This will mean St Louis Catholic Middle School will shut in 2013.

Graham Newman, portfolio holder for children, schools and young people at Suffolk County Council, said: “We welcome the views expressed by the pupils at St Benedict’s Upper School and will ensure that these are taken into account when decisions are taken on the organisation of Roman Catholic schools in Bury St Edmunds.”