READERS’ LETTERS: From the Bury Free Press of Friday, May 20

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A selection of readers’ letters from the Bury Free Press of Friday, May 20

‘SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST

I am delighted to hear that the Bury St Edmunds All-Through Trust has been given the backing of the Department for Education (DfE) to extend its all-through ethos a little further across Bury St Edmunds. With the Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ County Upper at its pinnacle, the move will give parents confidence that their child has a greater chance of achieving a place in this oversubscribed educational chain.

I am dismayed, though, to see Suffolk County Council’s reaction. It has only “concerns” and absolutely nothing positive to say about improving the choice of local educational provision for our children. And the fact that it is “actively considering all legal options” is a clear indication that it wants to make the path ahead for the new schools as difficult and delay-ridden as possible.

All parents want is a choice of top-quality educational establishment. Surely offering more student places from age nine – as a result of parent-led demand – in an all-through chain led by Suffolk’s only World Class Schools Quality Mark trust is a sensible move that should be welcomed by the community… and by Suffolk County Council?

And what of the other schools in the town? If a two-tier primary school can truly offer a child a better education from Year 5 onwards, including subject-specific teaching in subject-specific facilities and strong competitive sports provision, then it has nothing to worry about. If it can’t, it had better improve fast or face losing children to other schools that can. As biologist Herbert Spencer said after reading Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, it’s “survival of the fittest”. And the expansion of successful schools can only benefit our children’s educations.

There will be those who feel that competition has no place in education. Whether we like it or not, in moving to two-tier education in Bury St Edmunds after it had already supported the creation of the All-Through Trust, Suffolk County Council has, of course, built in competition between schools offering different approaches. But Government policy is focused on successful schools expanding to spread their successful ethos. Why should that not be followed in this case?

Let us hope that Suffolk County Council remembers that it’s West Suffolk’s children who will benefit from this expansion of outstanding educational provision. Any attempts to block the path to completion will be a proactive move against offering west Suffolk’s young people the very best of what could be available to them in Bury St Edmunds.

-- Dr Susanne White, Bury St Edmunds

A CONFLICT OF INTEREST?

As a long-time supporter of high quality vocational education, I was delighted to read that the All-Through Trust has the confidence of the Department for Education for its growth plans. In being able to further develop its all-through approach, by better use of its sites, and in both vocational and academic styles, the trust will be offering real choice to the children of west Suffolk.

It was, then, perplexing to read of the “surprise” of Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for education, Gordon Jones, in the DfE’s decision. Mr Jones is a Conservative member of a Conservative local authority. It is the policy of the Conservative Government to create a schools system shaped by parents that delivers excellence, choice and equity. Yet Mr Jones tells us he has written to the Secretary of State and to the Regional Schools Commissioner outlining his concerns and is actively considering all legal options to stop the trust. Why?

If his own Government wishes to see a dynamic schools system in which the best schools are able to expand and spread their ethos and success, why does he oppose so vehemently the expansion of a trust whose popularity with parents is shown by its schools being oversubscribed, which is one of only eight organisations in the country to have been recognised with a World Class Schools Quality Mark, and whose GCSE record is unmatched in the area?

Well, he says he is “concerned about the impact of the new provision on other schools in the town”. Uhm, if Government policy is to see the best schools expand and spread their ethos and success, isn’t it inevitable that any schools that can’t keep up will struggle? His stance didn’t make sense to me… until I did a bit of research on Mr Jones.

The new Sybil Andrews School on Moreton Hall is part of the Samuel Ward Multi-Academy Trust, and the local authority cabinet member pursuing “all legal options” to stop what he sees as a threat to this new school is a board member of the Samuel Ward Multi-Academy Trust. Does the phrase “conflict of interest” mean nothing to Mr Jones?

-- John Park, Bury St Edmunds

A FANTASTIC OPPORTUNITY

It is entirely appropriate that the All-Through Trust in Bury St Edmunds has been recognised by the DfE for its outstanding provision of education for the young people in our town. It has spent the years of wrangling over changing to two-tier, building new classrooms and general uncertainty just getting on with what we all want for our children, which is focusing on teaching and learning, ensuring that the money is spent in the classroom. Sadly, Suffolk County Council (SCC) has never acknowledged its achievements at any level. The foundation provided by the supportive ethos in the primary and middle phases has led to consistent outstanding results at GCSE and A-level, putting them at the top of state schools in Suffolk and nationally.

A technical academy in Bury will be a fantastic opportunity for all young people who want to specialise in STEM subjects, and for SCC to want to try to “block” it is rather typical of its negativity. The specialised facilities, teaching and involvement with so many top companies that this will provide is highly appropriate in Bury St Edmunds, the home of the William and Ellen Vinten Trust, which has done so much for young people pursuing science and engineering in our town and Thurston over many, many years. Indeed, it would seem fitting for Vinten to be in the name of the new academy.

What is also to be applauded is that Howard Middle School pupils are to be catered for by the All-Through Trust, something that they and and their parents really want and something that SCC has chosen to block, totally ignoring the huge community support. So please, Mr Jones, don’t be churlish about something that can only benefit the children of this town and probably those of west Suffolk. As a parent I would be seeking out such facilities if my child had a passion for science and engineering, and, if not, I would be delighted at the multi-million pound investment in schools in our town. Why would you want to prevent it?

-- Denise Webb, Bury St Edmunds

GROUP CHOULD BE CHALLENGED

It is disgusting that three-year- old Jasmine Morton is denied an essential operation to help her to walk and that artist Heath Rosselli has to beg for an operation that will save her sight, (Bury Free Press, May 13).

What’s happening to the NHS locally?

The West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (WSCCG) bans several essential operations and drugs and refuses to be accountable. Persistent inquirers are branded “vexatious” by the group.

Furthermore, local GPs feel intimidated to follow “advice” from WSCCG that they do not agree with. The group says it “challenges” GPs who don’t toe the line.

We all know it’s just about money.

How is it that these operations are available to all elsewhere in Britain, but West Suffolk treats locals like serfs?

It’s about time all this was challenged nationally with the Health Minister and, if necessary, in the courts. What are the local MPs doing?

Well done the Bury Free Press!

It’s time everyone got together to stop this madness. Those that fought to establish the NHS would not believe what is happening.

-- Andy Erlam, Brandon

ACCESS IN SHOP IN NOT GOOD

Today, I visited WH Smith, to get an idea of how convenient it will be for people if the proposed moving of our Crown Post Office to upstairs in WH Smith goes ahead.

The answer I’m afraid, is not at all convenient.
Anyone using a wheelchair, mobility scooter, crutches, walking sticks or shopping trolleys, or pushing pushchairs, will need to use the only lift.

The direct route to the lift is down the left hand side of the shop to the very back. Great if there was a straight run from the front to back.

But that would be too simple. There are several support columns in a line which I believe will make that route impossible for most, so a zigzag route will be necessary.

Has anyone done a risk assessment on what happens to the lift users in the event of a fire? Lifts are not allowed to be used in the event of a fire as they can act as a chimney.

Once upstairs, I understand the Post Office area will be at the front of the shop (another long hack) and only have three cashiers.

Great, no more popping in to see how long the queues are and coming back later if it’s busy. Instead, we will have to trudge upstairs with our parcels and post.

This is just not good enough for us or our growing town. Is this how little we are thought of?

And just what is our MP Jo Churchill doing about it? Well we have her sympathy, but not her support. What a waste of space.

-- Gill Malik, Bury St Edmunds

MACHINES KEEP SWALLOWING COINS

Is there anyone else out there who is fed up with losing money in the new machines at Ram Meadow Car Park?

I have lost count of the number of times I have had to put in more 10p pieces simply because the machine does not accept the ones that I have put in. No, they weren’t forgeries. Last week I also had to put in an extra 20p piece.

I have tried old 10p pieces as well as new ones, likewise the same with 20p pieces, but the machine just tells me that I need to put more money in, even though I have put in the correct amount.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council is having a laugh on us and must be coining it in. What happens to all the extra money you are making, St Eds?

-- Doris Blackwell, Lakenheath

CHANCE TO BE A FREE COUNTRY

As the momentous and what will prove to be truly historic date of June 23 rapidly approaches, I am desperately hoping that everyone in my old constituency of Central Suffolk and North Ipswich is aware of just how important their vote in this referendum will be and will do the right thing and vote to leave the European Union.

On the next day, June 24, we will either be a free country again with control over our own affairs, including immigration and with democracy restored – a truly independent nation – or we will have accepted that we no longer have confidence in our own country, nor the will to run our own affairs and prefer to stay locked into a failed experiment going nowhere.

Vote to leave and I really do believe our country will be re-energised and June 24 will be thought of ever after as UK Independence Day.

Vote to remain and I fear that most of us will be filled with disappointment and remorse realising, too late, we had been given the chance of freedom and had voted to stay in the cage.

Lord Framlingham

Formerly Michael Lord,

MP 1983-2010