For their last ever production, pupils at Ixworth Middle performed the fantastical The Wizard of Oz – and for many there is something truly magical about their school which has made a difference for generations of children and parents.
For more than 40 years, it has pushed for high academic standards to allow pupils of all ages to flourish and weaved itself into the fabric of the community to help those in need.
Now with the dawn of two-tier education across the county, the school will close today followed by Beyton and Blackbourne next week.
The political arguments for and against the end of middle schools will no doubt continue but for staff, pupils, parents and the community this is an opportunity to reflect and celebrate what they have achieved.
Headteacher Glenice Francis said: “We would hope that Ixworth Middle School would be remembered as a highly successful school that not only had outstanding teachers but has provided the pupils with some wonderful experiences and opportunities.
“We would also hope that pupils have fond and very happy memories of their time here and may regard this as some of the best school years of their lives.”
She is one of five headteachers to lead Ixworth since it opened as a secondary school in 1957 and later became a middle school in 1973 – starting with George Peake, Bill Douglas, John Hindmarsh and Sara Muzira.
Serving a wide rural catchment, it had a strong involvement with the local community with pupils giving musical performances for the elderly at residential centres, sharing drama productions with primary schools and making and filling planters for an elderly care home.
Its ‘excellent’ PTA organised discos, quiz nights and Christmas fairs and this term it subsidised leavers hoodies for all pupils and bought autograph books for mementos.
With pupils at the forefront, it strived for academic excellence and in June 2013 was rated by Ofsted as good with outstanding features.
Mrs Francis said: “The school has high expectations of pupils and strives for the highest of standards. Despite major losses of teaching and support staff over the last three years, the school has continued to function well, current serving staff members have remained committed and children have continued to make good progress in their learning.
“I’m proud to have made Ixworth Middle School a very good school again and to have reinstated its excellent reputation in the community.”
On the school’s biggest achievements, she said: “All pupils, regardless of ability, have flourished here. The staff offer excellent pastoral care and parents have shown strong support by demonstrating a real interest in their child’s education. The pupils are excellent ambassadors for the school; they are polite, courteous and have tremendous pride in their school.”
At the time of its closure, the school had 325 pupils and 50 staff with 14 having jobs to go into in September with some employed in local primary schools, three at Thurston Community College and others heading out of Suffolk.
Mrs Francis added: “I feel very privileged to have led Ixworth Middle School for seven years. I have been fortunate to work with a highly professional and effective senior leadership team, all of whom have supported the school to the point of closure.
“I feel very proud of our pupils who performed the ‘Wizard of Oz’ so well last week – it was brilliant in every respect. I am also proud of the good SATS results that Year 6 pupils have achieved this year.
“I would like to thank the school’s Governing Body for their strong leadership, support and commitment especially through the difficult process of re-organisation.
“I have enjoyed working with parents, forming good partnerships to enhance their child’s education. I will miss my staff and pupils greatly; they have been superb.”
Summing up the school’s determination and drive, Gerald Brown, chairman of governors, added: “The school has remained a vibrant place full of innovation and enthusiasm to maintain and enhance standards.
“This has been evidenced in many ways, including the work in the classroom and on the school playing fields, but also in the wide range of extra-curricular activities that have taken place over the years and during this final term, with the fantastic final school production of ‘The Wizard of Oz’.
“We thank everyone involved with the success of Ixworth Middle School and wish you all happiness and success for the future.”
n See next week’s Bury Free Press for features on Beyton and Blackbourne Middle Schools.