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Concerns over teaching plans for King Edward VI School students transferring to Abbeygate Sixth Form College




Concerns have been raised over teaching plans for students following construction delays of a new college.

King Edward VI School, in Bury St Edmunds, is closing its sixth form with A-level students transferring to Abbeygate Sixth Form College in September.

However, following delays in construction of the new £32 million college, off Beetons Way, students are due to be taught at the university building at West Suffolk College until the facility is ready in 2020.

Abbeygate Sixth Form College (5696815)
Abbeygate Sixth Form College (5696815)

An unnamed parent has raised concerns about the proposals though and the impact on students’ education.

They said: “Rather than keeping the sixth-formers at KEGs until the building is opened, the new college will still ‘open’ but that basically means that the Year 12s are being shunted into rooms at West Suffolk College, which is not what they signed up for.”

The parent said they understood that there would be no shared staff with King Edward VI despite the new sixth form being ‘sold’ to prospective parents ‘as just a bigger version of King Eds - same ethos, many of the same teachers’.

They added: “So students who are in Year 12 now are being moved into part of West Suffolk College with teachers who have not yet been appointed and the whole thing is very unsettling, given that you get one chance at your A-levels.”

We didn’t consent to this – we consented to going in the Abbeygate Sixth Form building with our teachers who we’ve been learning with - student Ben Turner

Sixth form student Ben Turner, 16, said his understanding was that they wouldn’t necessarily be taught by the same teachers when they transferred to the university building.

He said: “We didn’t consent to this – we consented to going in the Abbeygate Sixth Form building with our teachers who we’ve been learning with.”

He and other students have launched a petition to stay at King Edward VI with the same teachers.

David Gartland, principal of Abbeygate Sixth Form College.
David Gartland, principal of Abbeygate Sixth Form College.

David Gartland, principal of Abbeygate, and Lee Walker, headteacher at King Edward VI, said: “The ethos of excellence that Abbeygate will foster will be as familiar with the culture of King Edward VI School and will be intact from day one.

“A school ethos is not in the building but in the culture set by the leadership and staff who will be working with the pupils. Our first priority is to our students and our commitment is to get them the best possible A-level teachers.

“Our aspiration has always been for some staff to teach in both the school and the sixth form college, and the principal of Abbeygate is continuing to build his team of outstanding and bespoke A-level practitioners, as was always the plan.

They added they ‘will do everything to ensure the transfer is seamless’.

Lee Walker, headteacher at King Edward VI School. Picture: Mecha Morton.
Lee Walker, headteacher at King Edward VI School. Picture: Mecha Morton.


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