Head ‘baffled’ by transport cuts

Thurston Community College ''''PICTURE: Mecha Morton
Thurston Community College ''''PICTURE: Mecha Morton

A headteacher has warned that school transport cuts will have a ‘detrimental effect’ on education in Suffolk if the plans go ahead.

Helen Wilson, head of Thurston Community College, said she is very concerned after council figures showed that her school could lose 812 students as a result of the plans, with 117 members of staff potentially being made redundant within five years at a cost of £2.4 million.

“I’m baffled by the motivation as they will only save a few hundred thousand pounds,” she said.

“My argument is is it really worth all this disruption to children’s education? It just seems absolutely baffling that they are thinking of doing this.”

Other schools in our area which would lose students as a result of the plans if they go ahead are Mildenhall College Academy, which would lose 115, Stowupland High School which would lose 20, and King Edward which would lose 23.

Some schools in our area are also set to gain students. Ixworth Free School could more than double its current numbers with a gain of 285 pupils while Sybil Andrews would gain 114, IES Breckland 111, Stowmarket High School 132 and St Benedict’s 31.

But all this means that thousands of students could be forced to uproot and move schools in order to get free transport.

“It’s going to be devastating on these children to have to move school half way through their educations,” she said.

“You don’t want to move children more often than you have to. What they are doing here totally falls in the face of the very reason that they reorganised our school system from three tier to two tier just a few years ago. It’s craziness.”

But Cllr Gordon Jones, cabinet member for children’s services, education and skills, said that the council promised to listen to opinions and concerns during the consultation period, which started on Tuesday and runs until February 28,

“This is only the beginning and I’m calling for unity. I’m saying ‘let’s use this consultation to look at all the issues, discuss them and find sensible solutions together,’” he said.

Consultation workshops will be held at the Lakenheath Pavillion from 7pm-8.30pm on January 23 and at West Suffolk House in Bury from 2pm-7.30pm on January 26.