Bury St Edmunds’ County Upper School is to move as part of multi-million pound plans to expand a schools trust –sparking concerns at county hall.
The All-Through Trust is proposing to build a new County Upper on the site of Westley Middle School, in Oliver Road. Westley Middle will remain at the site.
The current County Upper site, in Beeton’s Way, will house the trust’s new technical academy and a new 400 place middle phase campus to meet a demand for places.
Both would be free schools and have been approved by the Department for Education (DfE) to open in September 2017. The plans were outlined in a letter to parents yesterday.
Dr Richard Fletcher, chairman of the trust board, said: “The trust is already heavily oversubscribed for the middle phase and demand is rising.
“There is obviously much work to do before these plans are in place but the DfE is committed to working with us to realise them and we are committed to achieving the milestones we need to in order to open the schools.”
Both new schools are in the ‘pre-opening stage’ and the trust has launched a consultation on the new middle phase.
Gordon Jones, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for education, said he was ‘surprised’ by the DfE’s decision over the trust’s plans and is ‘concerned about the impact of the new provision on other schools in the town’. He said: “We have written to the Secretary of State and to the Regional Schools Commissioner outlining our concerns and are actively considering all legal options.”
The trust which includes County Upper School, Horringer Court and Westley Middles as well as Tollgate and Barrow Primary Schools, was set up to offer parents an alternative to two tier schooling. Under the move to two tier, overseen by the Bury Schools Partnership and council, some middle schools including Howard Middle will close in July. Howard Primary is to move to the Howard Middle site.
In a consultation letter last month, Dr Fletcher said the trust’s proposals do not prevent the council and the Partnership’s plans for Howard Primary but provide ‘additional middle phase capacity in line with the wishes of many in the community’. In the interim before the new middle campus opens, Tollgate Primary would temporarily accommodate pupils from Howard Middle who wish to study with the trust.