Plans to reorganise the structure of four schools in Bury St Edmunds have been approved by the board of Unity Schools Partnership.
The trust published proposals in January for the reorganisation of Tollgate Primary, Horringer Court Middle, Westley Middle and County Upper schools.
Over four weeks of public consultation, meetings were held with staff and parents at each school as well as four public meetings, an online meeting and with representatives of groups that put forward alternative proposals.
The trust has today written to school governors, staff and parents to inform them of the board’s careful consideration of the responses expressed during the consultation.
After meeting twice during the consultation period and again after it was concluded, the board carefully considered all comments made over the last month, including alternative proposals.
The trust board agreed the following proposals, which will now be sent to the Department for Education for a final decision:
- To request an extension of the age ranges of children at Tollgate and County Upper and the closure of Horringer Court and Westley middle schools in August 2023.
- To carry out further work on developing specialist facilities for the proposed expanded Tollgate Primary School.
- That the proposed extension of County Upper School make use of the Westley site for Years 7 and 8 for the foreseeable future.
- To subsidise transport to Westley and Horringer Court schools during 2022-23 so that there is no increase in costs to families as a result of these proposed changes.
Christine Quinn, Chair of the Trust Board, said: “We were very grateful for all who engaged in the consultation and in particular we recognised the disappointment expressed by many who explained their strong views about the value of a middle school education.
“The trust board believes that the overall rationale for the proposals is strong and that they are in the best interests of the education of children in Bury St Edmunds and surrounding areas, both now and in the future.
“We are determined that the strong features of the current schools are maintained in the new system being proposed. Thank you to all who engaged so seriously with the proposals.”
Tim Coulson, Chief Executive of Unity Schools Partnership, said: “The trust recognises the highly professional way that staff have continued to work in the context of the publication of these very significant proposals.
“The responses during the consultation have improved the proposals and we will carry out further work on developing specialist facilities for the proposed expanded Tollgate Primary School, make use of the Westley site for Years 7 and 8 for the foreseeable future and will ensure that there is no increase in costs to families next school year to both Horringer Court and Westley schools as a result of these proposed changes.”
A report on the consultation has been sent to the Department for Education alongside the request to reorganise the four schools. This report has been published today on the consultation website – http://consultationbse.unitysp.co.uk.
The trust hopes to hear back from the Department for Education early in the summer term and will pass on any decision straightaway.