Future of schooling revealed as consultation kicks off in Bury St Edmunds

St James C.E.V.A School
St James C.E.V.A School
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The planned vision for schooling in Bury St Edmunds from 2016 has been revealed with the launch of a consultation on the move to two tier education in the town.

Four middle schools would close, a new secondary school built and extra classrooms set up at primary schools in the final phase of Suffolk County Council’s School Organisation Review.

Parents, pupils, schools staff and communities will be able to have their say on the proposals until December 13 by writing to the authority and at a variety of open events.

Council bosses say the £22 million move is needed to drive up standards but some parents fear education will suffer. Pupils in Year 5 would stay in their primary schools from September 2015 with the closure of middle schools the following year.

The Hardwick Middle site could be used as a new location for Riverwalk School. Howard Primary would transfer to the site of Howard Middle.

Education bosses and the Church of England Diocese are exploring an option to use the St James Middle site as a voluntary aided primary school.

King Edward VI School, which offers 350 places in each year group, is too small to maintain the same number of pupils if it extends age range. The authority proposes to reduce the numbers in each year group to 220.

A new school, initially of 120 places in each year group, would be built in Moreton Hall.

Under the Catholic Diocese plans, St Benedict’s would operate at its current Beeton’s Way building and the St Louis Middle site. A four classroom block would be set up at St Edmund’s Primary.

A spokesperson for the Suffolk Action for Truth on SOR group said: “The two tier plan is under funded, will create massive over supply in Key Stage Two and close good and outstanding schools. It’s all a risk being taken when it ain’t broken.” They questioned why the county didn’t adopt the Bury Academy Trust’s all-through system.

Deborah Cadman, the council’s chief executive, who established a team at West Suffolk House to work with those affected, said: “We’ve got to have the kids’ interests at the heart of everything. It’s about providing open and accessible information so parents can make the right and most sensible choice for their children. We’re not going to stop SOR. It needs to be done in the right way.”

Visit www.suffolk.gov.uk/sor