A selection of readers’ letters from the Bury Free Press of Friday, April 18.
WE WANT TO KEEP MIDDLE SCHOOLS
Having read David Nettleton’s letter (Bury Free Press April 11), I will once again state my view and that of many others. We want to keep our middle schools. Cllr Nettleton states that 94 per cent of the responses showed that they want to keep their middle schools. Can anyone say when there has been such a positive response to anything in the past? National or local? Voters don’t come out at elections in anything near that percentage. Surely Suffolk County Council cannot ignore this, the outcome of ‘public consultation’ is that we want the middle schools to stay in Bury. Anything else would be against the democratic right we have in this country. We have had our say and now Suffolk County Council needs to listen.
-- Gloria Meen, Bury St Edmunds
My family and I moved to Bury St Edmunds from Essex just under two years ago. Until then, my son was in a two-tier system school and I was apprehensive about the move to a three-tier system.
However, my son’s rate of progress and confidence has increased significantly since his move to Howard Middle school.
Currently, local pupils enjoy access to schools that are able to offer accelerated progress and high quality education, namely Howard Middle school and County Upper school. Pupils enter Howard Middle below average following their attendance at the two local primary schools but have made, on average, three years’ progress in the two years before their SATS and have reached average attainment by the time they leave at the end of year 8.
County Upper has been rated outstanding by Ofsted and in 2013 was the highest performing state school in Suffolk for in its A-level results and the third highest for its GCSE results. I am completely unable to see any logic in the proposal to raise educational standards by closing Howard Middle and denying pupils access to County Upper in the process.
At no point in the so-called ‘consultation’ process have I received any satisfactory explanation as to how local pupils will benefit from the proposals.
The only argument the local authority seems to be able to offer is that parents have a choice to move their children in Year 5 or Year 7 to either Westley Middle or Horringer Court Middle. Aside from the difficulties parents would face in transporting their children to these schools, these two schools do not have the capacity to offer places to all pupils whose parents would wish them to attend.
I am very concerned that the information given to parents regarding this ‘option’ has been misleading. I also question the confidence that the local authority has in its proposed option if it is encouraging parents to opt out of the two-tier system it wishes to implement.
The only conclusion I can possibly come to is that the local authority’s plans for our schools is driven solely by politics and not by the best interests of our children. This is simply not acceptable.
If the local authority is truly committed to raising educational attainment as it says it is then the option that offers the educational opportunities so needed by by local pupils is to keep Howard Middle school open as part of an all-through system with Tollgate Primary and County Upper. Howard Middle school already has a good partnership with County Upper and an established record of accelerated progress and this combined with the support now being given to Tollgate by the Academy Trust offers real potential to drive educational standards upwards for our children.
-- Mike Verhelst, Bury St Edmunds
RESULTS CANNOT BE IGNORED
I am responding to the invitation to let my views be known about the proposed move to two-tier schooling in Bury St Edmunds. Lisa Chambers is quite right that children need a smooth transition but totally disregards the success of the all-through model which has a shared approach and the young people are familiar with the teachers and the sites of all the schools. The outstanding results of the Academy Trust cannot be ignored. With County Upper School being 19 per cent higher than King Edward and 16 per cent higher than the national figure, for the all important 5A*-C including English and maths at GCSE, it is scandalous that Suffolk County Council totally ignores their success. This is what parents should be wanting for the rest of Bury and if Howard Middle is unable to join them, we can be sure it is a political decision and not in the best interests of the children of the town. Things have moved on since the start of all of this some 10+ years ago and it appears that SCC is incapable of embracing proven innovation. This cost-effective, collaborative, method of teaching four-18 year olds could be rolled out across the rest of the town with little disruption and a lot of co-operation – the outcomes being improved results which is what we all want to see.
-- Denise Pine, via email
WE’RE ISSUING FEWER TICKETS
I write to correct an error on a massive scale in this weekend’s Sunday Times, regarding the issuing of parking tickets. Far from the rise of 472 per cent reported, the number of fixed penalty notices issued continues to fall, with a drop of 67 per cent over the last two years, during which time the number of visitors using our safe, well-managed car parks has increased. We are investigating how these figures came to be reported but meanwhile people can be assured that our towns are warmly welcoming visitors and are open for business.
-- Cllr Alaric Pugh, Cabinet member for economic development and growth, St Edmundsbury Borough Council
GRATEFUL FOR KINDNESS
I dropped my credit card wallet at Sainsbury’s Filling Station on March 28 and a very kind lady handed it in to the staff. Unfortunately, she did not leave her details. I do hope she reads the Bury Free Press because I want to say ‘thank you so much’.
-- Name and address supplied
WHAT NEED FOR ANOTHER FESTIVAL?
I’m rather perplexed that there should be an upcoming beer festival at the Apex.
Currently, we have three wonderful pubs strutting their stuff successfully. Namely The Dove, the new Oak Barns, the Beerhouse plus, of course, the Cannon Brewery.
Wetherspoons has just had a festival featuring 50 beers atbelow £3 a pint. Surely the Camra event in the Apex, with an entry fee of £3, is beyond the icing on the cake.
-- Richard Cox, via email
JEAN IS ‘NOT ALONE’ IN SEEING HOUSE
I refer to Jean Batram’s letter headed ‘I too have seen the ghost house’ referring to the Rougham ghost (Bury Free Press, April 4). Betty Puttick’s book, Ghosts of Suffolk, recounts precisely the same story of a house (or not) in the Kingshall Street area, but from an account given by Robert Palfrey in 1860 and later by James Cobbold in 1912 (featured in Amateur Gardening in 1975) and by a Miss Wynne in 1926 (featured in John Harries’ Ghost Hunters ‘ Road Book).
Clearly Ms Batram is ‘not alone’.
-- David Cox, Buxhall
PRAISE FOR OUR HOSPITAL
I recently had an operation at our wonderful West Suffolk Hospital on Ward F4. The whole staff were always cheerful, understanding and very helpful. The three meals a day and plenty of drinks were very good, the hot food served hot and were plentiful. I have nothing but praise and thanks for all who work in our hospital.
-- Mrs Valerie Paske, Bury St Edmunds
WE NEED TO KEEP TOURIST INFORMATION CENTRE
May I take this opportunity to thank all who have signed the petition regarding the closure of our Tourist Information Centre on Angel Hill. One thing that has arisen is that shopkeepers and stallholders, when asked to sign, have not only done so, but have a requested a copy of the petition so that their customers can do likewise. This shows beyond reasonable doubt that common sense must prevail and that out TIC must remian in its present location.
-- Arthur Debenham, Bury St Edmunds
I was surprised to hear the TIC was to close on Angel Hill. This is the main area where all coach parties are dropped off and collected, with up to 15 coaches on a Wednesday alone.
It’s an easy job for a coach driver to point and say ‘they will tell you where everything is’. Now they will have to say, ‘walk up the hill, turn right, take your first left, walk to the top turn right, then take your first left and then turn right again, it’s called the Apex which is in the arc,or you could go to Moyse’s Hall which is...’.
Three million people visit Bury every year and we need the tourist office where it is.
-- Darren Old, Bury St Edmunds