Read
About Parents Against Change
Your comments
Presentations & Papers

SCC Plans and Research
PDP Report Dec 2006
Suffolk CC 2002 Report Recommending "No action"
Suffolk CC 2001 Report Recommending "No action"

Other Sites
PAC Yahoo Forum
National Middle Schools Forum
National Middle School Assoc
Bedfordshire Campaign
Newmarket Save Our Schools
Haverhill Parents Against Change
Beccles Middle School
Riverside School

 


Site designed by Neil Fleming
Democracy in action
Suffolk County Councillors on Thursday March 22 ignored all sense and rode rough-shod over the views of thousands of parents by deciding to vote in principle for a "plan" to abolish Middle Schools across the county.
Parental opposition groups vowed to take the decision to a full Judicial Review and said they would be reporting the Council to the Local Government Ombudsman for improprieties in its conduct of the consultation and decision-making process.
Councillors voted by 42 to 28 to endorse a cabinet recommendation to move foward with a reform that could see the closure of 40 Suffolk Middle Schools, many of them among the most academically successful schools in the county. There were 3 abstentions and 2 councillors were absent.
"It's depressing how stupid these people are," said Steve Cowper, spokesman for the action group Parents Against Change, which coordinated much of the opposition to the scheme.
"It seems as if they haven't listened to a single word of rational argument put to them," he said. "They are not interested in the views of the people who elected them. They are simply interested in their own mysterious political agenda. If they are not stopped, they will waste millions of pounds of taxpayers' money on a scheme that will do nothing for our children."


"We intend to continue fighting this, and will demand a Judicial Review," he said. Such a review has the power to overturn the Council's decision.
PAC on Thursday presented a petition with some 16,500 signatures to the Council, ahead of a full Council meeting to vote on educational reform. In addition, parallel parents group PACE presented a petition of 1300 signatures from a single Middle School. Combined, the two petitions total close to one signature for every child at a Suffolk Middle School.
"As Councillors, we ignore petitions like this at our peril," said Julian Swainson, leader of the Labour group in the Council.
"We had a phenomenal response," said Neil Fleming, PAC webmaster and lead author of the group's report What's Wrong with Suffolk County Council's Schools Organization Review. "When people saw what a mess the Council were about to make, they got very engaged. There was a possibility of real participation by parents in making a better school system."

"But pathetically, most of the Tory Councillors behaved like little sheep today, and just did as they were told. They have thrown away a golden opportunity to do something sensible."

PAC's campaign to defeat the cabinet's recommendation was founded on the discovery of numerous flaws in the original research which led Suffolk to recommend a switch to all-to-tier schooling.

"It was terrible maths," said Fleming. "They averaged everything and used the averages to convince themselves there was a systematic problem with three-tier schooling. But there isn't. There are just good schools and bad schools in both systems."

Commented Kathy Pollard, Lib-Dem group leader: "I can find no evidence in these papers that results have been adjusted for socio-economic effects." If two-tier schooling was the answer to Suffolk's educational failings, she asked the Council, "why would two-tier Ipswich be failing?"
"You will destabilize education in Suffolk for more than a decade," she warned.
Said Tracey Hall-Roberts, another PAC coordinator: "They have signed up for a disastrous waste of money -- millions of pounds spent on a pointless and disruptive scheme, while children in failing schools, in both systems, will be left on the sidelines."
Councillors split largely along party political lines, with the majority Tory group voting to scrap Middle Schools, while Labour, Lib-Dem and independent Councillors urged them not to.
Some Tories rebelled, however.
"We should concentrate our wits on improving our education system rather than throwing the whole thing into turmoil," urged Conservative Councillor Selwyn Prior, who represents Stour Valley.
"Stuff the politics," said Cllr Bill Bishop, another Tory rebel. "There's no difference in Suffolk between two-tier and three-tier. Let's improve. But let's not demolish."
There was one amendment to the original cabinet recommendation -- tabled by Tory Mark Bee and accepted immediately by his colleagues with no debate. This was to make it easier to create "all through" school systems in situations where there are "compelling local reasons".
An "all-through" school system involves centralizing school headship and funding all the way from primary to A-level -- a system currently being planned for the Haverhill area. It was not immediately clear why Bee, who is Councillor for three-tier Beccles, wanted the amendment. It drew immediate criticism from Labour and Lib-Dem Councillors.
Labour leader Swainson accused the Tory group of "making it up as you go along. It is disgraceful," he said of the amendment.
 
   
  Latest News and Analysis  
  Email the Council, MPs  
  'Have your say' on the BBC  
  Join the campaign / contact us  
   
   
     
    Home