Move to two tier schooling in Bury St Edmunds recommended for approval

Latest news from the Bury Free Press
Latest news from the Bury Free Press

A £23 million move to two tier schooling in Bury St Edmunds looks set to be given the go-ahead after more than half of those who took part in a consultation backed the proposals.

Suffolk County Council’s cabinet has been recommended to press ahead with the controversial education overhaul, which would see Hardwick, Howard, St James and St Louis Middle Schools close in 2016.

Meanwhile, the authority is also backing the National Education Trust to set up a new 11-16 academy in Moreton Hall.

Education bosses say the move is needed to boost standards and attainment with the Bury Schools Partnership overseeing the transition.

Following a lengthy consultation, 658 questionnaires were returned to the council for the Partnership schools with 54 per cent approving to the move and 33.9 per cent objecting.

For the catholic schools, 352 questionnaires were returned with 63.9 per cent agreeing and 28.7 per cent disagreeing.

Under the proposals, the site of Hardwick Middle would be used to relocate Riverwalk School, Howard Middle would accommodate Howard Primary and the St James site would provide future Church of England school places.

Meanwhile, the St Louis site would be made available for St Benedict’s Catholic School.

Joy Stodart, Suffolk County Council’s project lead for the school organisation review, said: “We’d like to thank everyone who took the time to read the consultation documents, respond using the questionnaire and attend the public events.

“The consultation we have conducted has been thorough and it is on the basis of the results, and the fact that they are in line with our published policies, that we are making these recommendations to councillors.

“It is now for the cabinet to make a decision based on the information we have gathered. If legal notices are published, there will, of course, be more opportunities for people to give their views.”

If cabinet approves the recommendations, notices will be published setting out the proposals for each school.

The public then has four weeks to comment, which will be considered by the cabinet before it makes a final decision in April.

The council had received some calls for the town to follow in the footsteps of the Bury St Edmunds Academy Trust, which includes County Upper, Horringer Court and Westley Middles as well as Barrow Primary, by establishing all-through models of education.

However, a report to the cabinet said ‘the majority of heads and governors are not convinced that this model will lead to the step change they want in progress and achievement’,

The cabinet will meet at West Suffolk House, in Bury, on Tuesday February 25 at 11am.