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Plans to reorganise the structure of four schools in Bury St Edmunds have been approved by the Department for Education.

Unity Schools Partnership first published proposals in January for the reorganisation of Tollgate Primary, Horringer Court Middle, Westley Middle and County Upper schools.

During four weeks of public consultation, the trust organised meetings with staff and parents, held public and online meetings and also met with representatives of groups that put forward alternative proposals.

Unity Schools Partnership has been informed that the proposals have been approved by the Department for Education – which means the trust can start implementing the following:

  • Children in Year 4 will now stay at their primary schools in September 2022 and will not be admitted to either middle school.
  • In August 2023, the middle schools will close and at this point County Upper School will take responsibility for the education of Years 7 and 8, based at the Westley site.
  • Tollgate Primary School will extend to include Year 5 from September 2022 and Year 6 from September 2023.
  • Transport to Westley and Horringer Court schools during 2022-23 will be subsidised so that there is no increase in costs to families as a result of these proposed changes.

Tim Coulson, Chief Executive of Unity Schools Partnership, said: “We understand that there are parents who are concerned and disappointed at the changes these proposals represent.

“We will now work with each school community to ensure that disruption is minimised and plans are followed to create a school system in Bury St Edmunds that further benefits the children of the town and surrounding area.

“We published proposals in January and following an extensive consultation we amended the proposals before submitting them to the Department for Education.

“We decided that there should continue to be education on the Westley site and that the new County Upper secondary school should be distinctive in having younger and older sections of the school, with the younger children still at the Westley site and not transferring to the County Upper site until they are 13 years old.”

In addition to the comprehensive consultation, there is now a required period of time set aside to hear what people think about how Unity Schools Partnership should implement the plans.

Referred to as the ‘listening period’, it will run from Friday 13th May to Friday 17th June 2022.

Anyone wanting to take part in the listening period should visit https://consultationbse.unitysp.co.uk/ where there is more information and a link to an area to register comments.