Council reveals two-tier school switch plan

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FULL details of plans to axe middle schools as part of a shake- up of education in Stowmarket and Stowupland have been revealed.

Thirteen Primary Schools, as well as Stowmarket and Stowupland High Schools, will take on extra year groups as part of the 
£5 million switch to two-tier education.

At the end of the summer term in 2015, Stowmarket Middle, Combs Middle, Needham Market Middle and Bacton Middle Schools will close. A consultation has been launched and a series of meetings organised for parents to give their views on the overhaul, which Suffolk County Council’s education bosses say will improve standards.

Extra classrooms would be built at several primary schools for the new intake.

Meanwhile, the site of Stowmarket Middle School, in Walnut Tree Walk, would transfer to Stowmarket High, in Onehouse Road, to be used by Years 7 and 8.

However, some of their time would be spent at the Onehouse Road site for certain subjects.

Head Keith Penn said their aim was to keep pupil movement between the two sites to a minimum.

Needham Market Middle School’s playing fields would transfer to Bosmere Primary and the council would look to dispose of the building.

The Combs Middle site and buildings would be retained as a potential new primary school to open in September 2014. The playing fields would be shared with Combs Ford Primary.

The authority would look to dispose of the Bacton Middle site site but would first need to consult with Mid Suffolk District Council on possible uses including community facilities. A new teaching block would be built at Stowupland High.

On the issue of jobs for middle school staff, Mr Penn said he could not offer guarantees to every teacher but it was expected that those wanting a role in the high school would be able to apply first.

Ian Kearns, former head at Parkway Middle School, in Haverhill, which closed last year, has taken over at Needham Market Middle.

He said: “I’ve got the experience and skill sets of how to close the school to ensure standards remain high. It’s about working closely together to make sure all the children get the best deal.”

Cllr Graham Newman, cabinet member for education at the county council, said recent key stage two results showed schools now operating within the two-tier system have seen as much as a 19 per cent improvement.

A consultation booklet, questionnaire and details of the public meetings can be found at

The deadline for comments is November 9 – the council’s cabinet will decide on the final proposals in December. There will then be six weeks to make final comments before the final decision in February.