Bacton Middle proposes "all through school" as Stowmarket Consultation starts

Bacton Middle School
The next phase of the “school organisation review” (SOR) has begun in the Stowmarket and Stowupland areas. Suffolk County Council have published proposals that would in brief mean:
  • Bacton, Stowmarket, Combs and Needham Market Middle Schools closing
  • Expansion of Stowmarket and Stowupland High Schools (to 300 and 180 places per year respectively)
  • Stowmarket High to use former Stowmarket Middle Site for Years 7 and 8 and current site for Year 9 upwards
  • Combs Middle to be possible future primary school
  • Needham Market and Bacton Middle to be sold (subject to DfE approval)
  • All primary schools expanded to take Years 5 and 6
You can see the full Stowmaket and Stowupland consultation documents online.

However Bacton Middle School are not happy with the proposals. At the same time as the first public consultation meeting was held at the school this week their Headteacher issued a lengthy statement complaining that their proposal for an “all-through” 3-18 (and beyond) school has been given a cursory mention in the consultation document (p10 of the Stowupland Consultation Booklet). This is what the consultation document has to say:
The “all-through” proposal was based on the existing seven schools retaining their age range and forming a federation with a single governing body and an executive principal. This would be consistent with the county council’s principles and would not need any investment in new classrooms. After much careful consideration the majority of headteachers and governors were not convinced that the “all-through” proposal would lead to higher achievement as it did not address the additional change of school. Nor was it thought that it was compatible with neighbouring systems and could lead to problems for families moving in and out of the area. 
Bacton Middle are not happy about this, the Head saying in a statement on their website:
The Governors’ proposal was for an “all through” model: a single learning community supported by other agencies, creating a seamless education for 3- 18yrs and beyond. Its strength would be in having one line of accountability and in removing any transfer dip that could be caused by changing school. It builds on existing collaborative working and this school is committed to working with other schools, whatever the outcome of this process. On page 10 of the booklet only a very brief mention is made of the all through proposal. Even though I took the opportunity to read and offer amendments to the draft, I would like it to be a matter of public record that the final printed details on page 10 do not accurately summarise Bacton Community Middle School’s Governors’ proposal. Important fundamentals of the proposal, which would address issues such as preparation for GCSEs, have been omitted.

Is this consultation about what schools want or what parents want?
In the past few months there were rumours that Bacton might become another location for a free school bid. It will be interesting to see what happens during the consultation period and if this is a serious proposal or just an attempt to “save” the Middle School.

I also wonder if the split site proposal for Stowmarket High might attract some criticism. At first sight it looks a lot like the existing system but with children staying in Primary School for Years 5 and 6 and they would go to the former Middle School in years 7 and 8 just like they do now.

This is certainly one to watch and I expect this together with the Ixworth Free School plans to dominate this Blog for the rest of this term.
Suffolk County Council 4726483657996490838

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