Small turn out for school meeting

PROPOSALS for scrapping middle schools in favour of a two-tier system, and how that would affect other schools, were explained at a public meeting at Bungay Primary School on Monday evening.

PROPOSALS for scrapping middle schools in favour of a two-tier system, and how that would affect other schools, were explained at a public meeting at Bungay Primary School on Monday evening.

Only a handful of parents were there to hear Phil Whiffing, project leader for Suffolk County Council's schools re-organisation, talk about the plans and why they were being put forward - to improve education and opportunities for all young people aged 4 to 19.

He said the primary school had 213 pupils at present and 300 when full - making it 4-11 schools would increase that number to 315.

“In due course there may be advantages in moving this school to the middle school site - we need to consider whether that is appropriate, eventually,” he said. “It would become a seven-group school.”

The plans would mean that in 2011 there would be no new admissions to Bungay Middle School, with children now in year two at the primary school staying there. He also said the possibility of using the middle school as an annexe to Bungay High school was being considered, while plans for major capital investment in facilities at the high school were looked at.

Di Bill said there was no space at the primary school, in Wingfield Street, for bigger children. MrWhiffing said they would look carefully at the suitability of space once they had a clear direction, and work with the head and governing body to make sure facilities were suitable for the extended age range there.

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“If not we will make sure they are. The middle school won't be available to the primary school until after Building Schools for the Future work has take place at the high school,” he said.

Mr Whiffing said all schools in the area - six primary schools, two middle schools and Bungay High - would be working together to plan for the transition to make is as smooth as possible.

High school head Sean O'Neill said parents would start to see significantly more joint working over the next two or three years.

“One of the worries was over youngsters leaving middle school and joining the high school straight away. Our current thinking is that once they have finished at middle school and years seven and eight move up to the high school, while we wait for the building of a sixth form centre the high school sixth form would move to the middle school site, so from 2012 those aged 11-16 would be at the high school site,” he said.

It would mean staff going backwards and forwards between sites rather than pupils.

“Two years later we will have a state of the art facility at the high school site,” he said.

Mr Whiffing emphasised that things could change as the result of discussion at the series of public meetings currently being held - that had happened in the Lowestoft and Haverhill areas. The county council cabinet would make its recommendations in February on the pattern of schools and when that was published later in 2009 there would be another chance for people to comment.

Public meetings still to come on the school review are:

Beccles area: Monday November 3, Sir John Leman High School; Tuesday November 4, Worlingham CEVC Primary School; Thursday November 6, Beccles Middle School, 7.30pm to 9pm); Monday November 10, Albert Pye Primary School and Ravensmere Infant School; Wednesday November 12, Barnby and North Cove Community Primary School, 4.30pm to 6.30pm. All meetings are at 6.30pm to 8pm unless otherwise stated.

Bungay and Halesworth area: Tuesday, November 11. Wenhaston Primary School, 6.30-8pm; Thursday, November 13 - Bungay High School, 6.30-8pm, Monday, November 17, Ilketshall St Lawrence Primary School, 6.30-8pm, Halesworth Middle School, 7.30-9pm; Monday, November 24 - Bungay Middle School, 7.30-9pm; Wednesday, November 26 - Holton St Peter Primary School (meeting at the village hall), 7.30-9.30pm.