Plans to shake up schools are blasted

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HUNDREDS of people flocked to an emotionally charged meeting about a proposed shake-up of Catholic education including the closure of a top school.

About 300 parents, pupils and teachers poured into St Louis Middle’s hall, where many blasted moves to close the ‘outstanding’ rated Bury St Edmunds school as part of the East Anglia Diocese’s switch to two tier education ahead of the rest of the town.

During the heated debate, fears were aired about potential job losses as well as divisions that could be created in the community and others scorned the nature of the consultation and decision making process.

The diocese wants to close St Louis by 2013.

As part of the ‘preferred option’, St Edmund’s Primary would take five to 11 year olds and St Benedict’s, 11 to 18. Years 7 and 8 would be based on the St Louis site.

Suffolk County Council has had to shelve plans for other schools in Bury to switch to two tier until at least 2017 following Government funding cuts.

At the meeting, the plans were outlined by Julie O’Connor, diocese schools director, and Phil Whiffing, project lead for the council’s school organisation review.

During the question and answer session, parent Caroline McMahon, said: “My largest concern is that we are dividing a community and town.”

Bernadine Miller, a member of the SOS St Louis group, said: “The way we have been treated as parents, parishioners and human beings and the way you have treated these teachers is appalling.”

St Louis pupil Olivia Sutton asked if they could guarantee teachers would be given jobs in St Edmunds and Benedict’s.

Mrs O’Connor said ‘nothing in the consultation is a done deal’ and ‘as many as possible will get jobs within the schools’.

The consultation ends on May 11.