School plans catchment area change to address concerns from Howard estate parents

Geoff Barton - Head of King Edward VI School

Geoff Barton - Head of King Edward VI School

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Bury St Edmunds’ King Edward VI School plans to change its catchment area to include the Howard estate following residents’ fears that their children may not be able to attend the nearby County Upper School.

Headteacher Geoff Barton says he has drafted the move after listening to parents at Howard Primary who are concerned about County Upper which gives priority admission to pupils at Horringer Court and Westley Middles as part of the Bury St Edmunds Academy Trust.

Mr Barton said: “After listening to the disbelief of parents we’ve said we will, with the county council, look at our catchment area in order for parents of children on the Howard estate - if they wanted to send their children here - to be able to have them walk to school in town.”

However, Vicky Neale, head at County Upper, said they will still have space for children from the Howard estate.

She said: “We’ve always wanted Howard children with us.

“There’s certainly still space and not all spaces will be taken up by Horringer Court and Westley because the PAN (pupil admission number) of County exceeds the PAN of those two schools.”

Mrs Neale said that as an Academy they could also increase their admissions by 10 to 20 a year to take the Howard pupils.

She added that they initially intended for Howard Middle School to be part of the Trust but its application to become an academy has been blocked twice.

“If it was four to 13 on the Howard site as originally planned the children would be able to come here as they do now.”

The issue emerges as parents have four weeks left to engage in the consultation over Suffolk County Council’s plans for Bury St Edmunds to move to two tier education.

Under the proposals, King Edward VI would reduce its admissions from 350 to 220 with a new secondary school built on Moreton Hall offering 120 places in each year group.

When asked how the school would cope with a reduction in pupil numbers alongside an extension in catchment, Mr Barton explained that 25 per cent of its pupils currently come from out of catchment in towns such as Sudbury and Newmarket which he expects would reduce as Suffolk’s education system improves and places would be given first to those in catchment.

The two tier consultation runs until December 13. Visit http://www.suffolk.gov.uk/sor

The Academy Trust will hold a consultation event on its system on Monday November 18 at The Apex, in Bury, at 6pm.