A selection of readers’ letters from the Bury Free Press of Friday, November 22.
I’LL MAKE CAR PARK A HOME FROM HOME
Last weekend my wife and I spent a pleasant day walking the prom at Felixstowe walking the dogs, bite to eat, etc all good. Got back to our car having paid for a few hours parking and yes, like a dipstick, we were 20 minutes over our allotted time and hey oh, no surprises a ticket was stuck to the car. A mere £80 for our slight transgression. Took it on the chin, paid when we got home, move on.
Went into Bury this morning, bright and breezy and intended to park in our usual car park but, no. Travellers had made their camp in it.
Last year, I paid not far short of a healthy six figures in income tax so you could say I am doing my bit. Reading the report in the paper, the council has no intention of giving them a parking ticket as ‘they’re using the car park as a living space’.
Next time I go to Felixstowe I will put a dining table with six chairs next to my car, set up the kids’ Xbox and a couple of Lazy Boy chairs for them to snuggle down in for a few hours of happy gaming, then wander the prom all day knowing that the £80 parking police haven’t got a leg to stand on.
-- Peter Bell, Great Barton
MAJORITY WANT TO GO ALL-THROUGH
I write to highlight the wishes of our community as regards the future of our local schools, Tollgate and Howard Primaries, Howard Middle School and County Upper School.
Suffolk County Council has promised that it would listen to the local community as part of its review process into the future of schools in the area. The majority of people on our estate feel that three-tier education system has served the Howard and Mildenhall Estate communities very well and do not want to see a change to a two-tier system. Having all three schools close to each other has been very good for pupils and has benefited community cohesion.
At a consultation meeting on October 17 at Howard Middle school many parents and residents left organisers and facilitators in no doubt that they wanted their children to feed into the County Upper School and would like to adopt the all-through system.
If the children from our estate are denied access to County Upper School (which will happen if two-tier is adopted), then our children might have to travel to the new secondary school to be built on the Morton Hall Estate. Imagine travelling there and back every morning and afternoon. It will be a nightmare with the roads congested/gridlocked at this time of the day. This must be very worrying for the parents as well as the pupils of primary school age.
Disappointingly, we were given the impression that Suffolk County Council is trying to impose a two-tier model which is clearly not wanted. Unfortunately, although the council has announced a review process, many are concerned that the consultation is not being fairly conducted.
Decisions on the future of local schools are being pushed forward against a backdrop St Edmundsbury’s housing plans which still have to be subject to an independent public inquiry and therefore cannot be treated as any foregone conclusion.
I would urge all parents who would like to see the preservation of the all-through system to put pressure on the school governors and make them listen to your demands. Governors should be listening, as should officials who appear to be the driving force behind these changes. These unfair changes must be opposed for both the sake of our children’s education and future and that of the community as a whole. Suffolk Council says it listens, so let us tell them. A petition has been started and I urge all responsible and concerned parents to back it.
-- Ernie Broom, Howard Estate, Bury St Edmunds
SCHOOLS ARE WELCOME TO JOIN TRUST
I would like to set the record straight following the letter from Marie Bennett, chairman of Governors at Howard Primary School (Bury Free Press, November 8). County Upper School has always regarded the children who attend Howard Primary and Middle schools as part of its natural catchment area. The original plans for the trust included Howard Middle School but their inclusion was blocked at the time by Suffolk County Council. The trust schools proceeded with their plans with the full agreement of the governing body at Howard Middle School and the intention was, and remains, that they should still join the trust. The majority of children from the Howard Estate still come to County Upper School and our admission policy is not designed to exclude them. Neither is our admissions policy set in stone, if the Howard schools were to join the trust their pupils would be treated in exactly the same way as those at the Horringer Court and Westley Schools. We are more than happy to talk to Mrs Bennett and her governing body at any time about how she can ensure the children in her care can continue to have access to the outstanding educational provision in the Bury St Edmunds Academy Trust.
-- Dr Richard Fletcher, Chairman, Bury St Edmunds Academy Trust
CHILDREN MUST BE PUT FIRST
RE consultation over school reorganisation. What I, as a concerned parent, wanted to know would be at the forefront of all of these changes was the long-term welfare of my child. It’s quite clear that we cannot ignore that Suffolk is performing poorly within the current structure, and I defy anyone to argue with the statistics that rate this area 148th out of 150.
I am told that from the beginning of these consultations, before parents were involved, all 24 schools within the area met and discussed whether they should all change or not for the benefit of continuity and stability for our children. Following the agreement to change, only four of the 24 felt that they wanted to provide education differently. That is their choice and although I agree with choice on all levels I feel that it is obvious that their choice has impacted greatly on our choices as parents. I think the title of the committee the 20 schools have adopted really sums up what the approach to our children’s education should be – a partnership. I am aware that the schools within the BSP will be making sacrifices themselves and do not want to close their middle schools but have looked at putting the needs of every child first. I have read in many places that the academy’s main selling point is that of their outstanding Ofsted report, but I am also aware that many of the schools have achieved this.
Education should not be provided with reference to your postcode it should be offering equality to all ,indifferent to their social status. I did not plan to write regarding this subject until I read the comments written in last week’s paper referring to the children from the Howard Estate as ‘lower attaining children from hard pressed backgrounds’. I have lived on this estate for my entire life and along with many of my peers attended further education and have gone on to have very successful careers in health care, teaching and business among many more. I have chosen to continue living within this area as it has a great sense of community. I think what the academy trust must not forget is that although they have an outstanding Ofsted report, this was given following the children from this estate’s achievements. What the academy do not report is that they are free to change their admission criteria at any time as they are not under the control of the LEA, so by choosing to follow the pathway to County Upper you may not be guaranteed a place at Year 9 or lower or upper sixth form, and that would have further disruption to their education. As parents we should be given unbiased factual information as to base our children’s future upon, and should reflect how our children are continually at the centre of this not just the school’s position within the league tables. We have listened to the minority regarding their achievements, please now read what the majority are working towards.
-- Marie Moye, Howard Estate, Bury St Edmunds
IT MAKES SENSE TO SHARE RESOURCES
I am delighted that, through your recent letters pages, there is more public response on the failure of Suffolk to improve the education of children in our county. It is an important and worrying situation that the county council is failing our young people. It is vital that they have the best chance possible to grow up into well rounded adults who will successfully compete in the world of work. Funding should not be wasted, it must be spent directly on obtaining high quality teaching and learning of students. That’s the key to success as Ofsted pointed out in its letter to SCC. I find it frustrating that the LEA isn’t learning from County Upper School and the all-through academy trust. Its collaboration of schools does not involve building more classrooms, nor does it involve staff having to yo-yo between split sites in 11-18 schools. They share expertise across all schools which can only benefit all the children. This regular contact will enable the transition to be so much smoother and the proof is in their excellent, continually improving results. Sharing resources makes sound financial sense and if the success of the academy trust is anything to go by it is a win/win situation. Come on Suffolk take note and act before the remaining successful area is dragged down to the bottom to join the rest of the county.
-- Charles Thomas, Bury St Edmunds