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More school links urged

PUBLISHED: 09:37 02 February 2009 | UPDATED: 07:56 01 August 2010

THE results of a three-month consultation with local parents on the possible introduction of a two-tier school system and the closure of four middle schools in the Beccles, Bungay and Halesworth area have been published.

THE results of a three-month consultation with local parents on the possible introduction of a two-tier school system and the closure of four middle schools in the Beccles, Bungay and Halesworth area have been published.

If given the go-ahead by Suffolk County Council's cabinet, pupils currently in years 3, 4 and 5 will transfer from middle to high school in September 2012.

In Beccles and the surrounding villages, a total of 227 forms were returned from parents of children at the 12 schools, which include Beccles and Worlingham middle schools.

The parents' main concern was the retention of staff and the maintenance of standards in the middle schools during the transition, particularly for pupils currently in years 3 and 4 who will be in the middle schools for two or three years respectively.

Meanwhile the transfer of three year groups to the Sir John Leman High School in September 2012 was also a concern, with parents worried about the standard of facilities on offer for the newly created years 5 and 6.

Under the proposals the Sir John Leman will expand to take in pupils from age 11 instead of 13, which will mean expanding the school building. Parents were generally in favour of the Beccles Middle School site being used to accommodate the Sir John Leman Sixth Form students whilst funding was being acquired to make the school bigger.

Post-16 provision was also addressed in the consultation, and it was suggested that it would be strengthened with further collaborative arrangements between the high schools in Beccles, Bungay and Leiston through the North Suffolk Skills Centre in Halesworth.

At primary school level there was strong support for a “hard” federation between Ravensmere and Albert Pye primary schools, which would mean a single governing body managing both schools.

The schools are already in a “soft” federation arrangement, where the two schools share one head teacher.

Meanwhile there was some debate about the future size of Crowfoot Primary School, and whether it should provide for 45 places per year group, which would meet current needs, or 60 places per year group.

If the cabinet agrees with the recommendations put forward on February 5, statutory notices about the changes will be published, which will be followed by a six-week period when the public can have a final say. The cabinet will make its final decision in June.

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