Bury St Edmunds middle school resigns from two-tier partnership group

Howard Middle School, Beard Road, Bury St Edmunds. ENGANL00120130529150323
Howard Middle School, Beard Road, Bury St Edmunds. ENGANL00120130529150323
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A Bury St Edmunds middle school has left the group driving the controversial move to two-tier education in the town.

Howard Middle has resigned from the Bury Schools Partnership and will instead receive support from the break-away Bury St Edmunds Academy Trust.

Sue George, chairman of governors at Howard Middle, made the announcement during a discussion about the status of School Organisation Review at last night’s Bury Our Place Forum.

Howard Middle aims to join the all-through Academy Trust after Tollgate Primary was granted orders from the Department for Education to become a 4-9 academy within the Trust, which is led by County Upper School.

After the meeting, Mrs George said: “We felt it wasn’t right for us to stay with them (the Bury Schools Partnership) because we don’t agree with their main aim which seems to be the two-tier system.

“The Academy Trust has assured us they will support us.”

Meanwhile, County Upper has already started to support Tollgate Primary, which has been in special measures for more than a year.

John George, chairman of governors at Tollgate, said there will be more support for staff at Tollgate with pupils also able to visit County Upper.

He added: “Lots of things have been going into Tollgate. We feel there’s benefits happening with Tollgate and they’re going to carry on.”

During the discussion on SOR, Cllr Mark Ereira-Guyer, leader of the Green and Independent Group, said: “The council needs to be quite honest about the fact it isn’t in control because things have gone down their road with the Government’s education policy.”

Conservative Cllr Sarah Stamp said: “I think the authority is absolutely in control. The Bury Schools Partnership has a very clear vision of where they’re going. The process has been smoother in Bury.”

Joy Stodart, the council’s project lead for SOR, said the local authorities don’t have the controls and statutory powers they used to have which is ‘why the Bury Schools Partnership came together in the first place’.

She said: “What the Bury Schools Partnerhsip did was say ‘we want to do something that makes sense, coherent straight forward pathways, we want to manage a process that’s sustainable in the long term’.”

A recent cabinet decision to move to two-tier in Bury will be scrutinised in Ipswich on Wednesday after Labour councillors called the matter in.