Head says school plans ‘carried out on cheap’

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A HEADTEACHER has claimed plans to switch to two-tier schooling are being ‘carried out on the cheap for political rather than educational reasons’.

Andy Nicholson, of Beyton Middle School, said the ‘unnecessary’ proposal for the Thurston area, including the closure of three middle schools in 2014 created ‘risks’ to standards, facilities and resources.

He gave a speech at the final public consultation meeting on Monday on the education overhaul, which which would see 17 primary schools take on additional year groups and Thurston Community College use the Beyton Middle site as a second campus. A Free School could be built in Ixworth or Stanton.

Mr Nicholson said the three- tier system in Thurston did ‘rather well’ compared to other areas.

He asked the crowd: “Are standards so poor that it’s worth the risk of submitting ourselves and your children to years of upheaval, uncertainty and turmoil with goodness knows what consequences for their futures, in the hope that the changes may benefit future generations?”

He said the ‘fundamental problem with the plan was a ‘lack of money’ and the £3.75 million allocated to the primary schools to extend ‘will achieve the bare minimum’.

On the Thurston College plan, he said: “If money was available there would be a rebuild on a single site.” He added that there could be a ‘haemorrhaging of staff’ from the middle schools in the coming months.

He concluded: “Whatever the outcome of the consultation, we at Beyton will acept it. We will do everything possible to mitigate the risks. I will leave it for others to be accountable for whether the changes actually deliver the promised benefits.”

Phil Whiffing, leader of Suffolk County Council’s school organisation review, said: “Ideally you wouldn’t operate a school on two sites. However, it’s possible to do so very successfully. I have never met a headteacher who would allow a proposal to go forward they didn’t feel would benefit children in their care.”

The consultation closes on Friday December 9. Visit www.suffolk.gov.uk/sor

n A petition has been launched opposing the planned closures. Visit http://petitions.web-labs.co.uk/suffolkcc/public/Oppose-Thurston-Area-School-Organisation-Review