School changes are ‘A plane crash’ says MP for Stowmarket and Bury St Edmunds

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Changes to schools have been described as a ‘plane crash’ and ‘mess’ by an MP and have been attacked by the National Union of Teachers.

Changes to schools have been described as a ‘plane crash’ and ‘mess’ by an MP and have been attacked by the National Union of Teachers.

Suffolk County Council, which is responsible for the schools’ switch to two-tier education has been accused of lacking the money to do it properly.

Stowmarket MP David Ruffley said he had now arranged a meeting with Cllr Graham Newman, portfolio holder for children young people and schools, to discuss the situation.

He was speaking after more than 180 angry parents filled Cedars Hotel, in Stowmarket, on Friday, to argue their case that the council should postpone plans to close middle schools in the Stowmarket and Stowupland pyramid.

“The concerns you have raised are impressive and I’ve had my eyes opened. It is a mess,” Mr Ruffley said.

“If you are saying they have made a bad decision and it’s ended in a plane crash, then yes I will say that.”

The meeting was set up by a group of parents, who say Suffolk County Council does not have enough money to effectively switch to a two-tier system.

The group claims the council has been selective in its use of information in putting forward its case and that the public have been ignored in the consultation process.

They say educational attainment has seen a sharp fall since the SOR process began and that the public have been given the impression that the decision had already been made.

Speakers Mark Cresswell, headteacher of Combs Middle school, Nigel Wyatt, executive officer for the National Middle School Association, Colin Green, parent and community governor for Bacton, and Graham White, county secretary for the NUT, said the fight to save middle schools in the area was not over.

Mr White said: “This is not a schools organisational review, it’s a schools disorganisational review.

“Suffolk County Council should instead focus on what’s best for the pupils.”

Parents who attended the meeting were asked to sign a petition which had reached 1,300 signatures in just eight days.

Cllr Newman defended the move, saying any ‘mess’ was inaugurated in the 1970s when councils switched to three-tier education.

“What has happened since is people realise middle schools do not work. All the places that have ditched middle schools have all gone ahead in the league tables,” he said.

Cllr Newman said Haverhill, which had already made the switch to two-tier, had seen a 13 per cent improvement in Key Stage Two results compared to five per cent countywide, while Clare had gone from the bottom 25 per cent to the top 15 per cent in the county.

He admitted that the cash was no longer there to build new ‘statement’ schools but said the switch would still be funded.