Two tier: 
The path ahead

Ixworth Middle School
Ixworth Middle School
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A rival bid for a free school on the site of a soon to be axed village middle school is being explored by the Church.

The St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese is working with the Thurston Partnership of schools to look into the possibility of establishing a free school at Ixworth Middle.

However, a group of parents are already in the process of working on a bid for the same site with the Seckford Foundation.

It is part of a move to two tier education in the area in 2014 organised by the partnership, which is made up of Thurston Community College and 17 primary schools.

A spokesman for the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese said their free school would have a ‘distinctively Christian ethos for 11 to 16-year-olds, and an inclusive approach, rooted in the community’.

He said: “Our church schools locally are keen that we explore this option and we are keen to meet local need and establishing parental demand is an important part of the application process.

“We would only consider proceeding if this is an option parents locally would like from the Church and meetings will be arranged for parents to hear their thoughts.”

A final decision on the issue will be made by the Diocese at the end of next month and any new school would not open until September 2014 .

The parent led Ixworth and Stanton Free School Group is moving forward with its free school bid, which they plan to submit in December.

Spokesman Stephen Larder said: “It’s great that the Thurston Partnership and Church are finally realising that there’s a huge demand and need for a free school at Ixworth.

“I think our bid is the only bid which will truly increase standards for this area.

“We will be holding public meetings and drop in sessions during November for parents to get the detail of what the bid is.

“Seckford have already been through this process twice with their first two free schools so we can have a lot of confidence in their ability to open a fantastic school.”

He voiced fears over the Church’s move.

Mr Larder added: “It does concern me personally as a parent that this whole thing now is going to be extremely confusing for parents.”

Free schools are new state schools which receive their funding direct from the Government rather than the county council.

Nearly 80 free schools have opened in England so far and there are four in Suffolk.