Sunday, June 28, 1998 Published at 01:50 GMT 02:50 UK
End of the middle way?
The number of eight- to 14-year-old children is on the increase
England's remaining middle schools are facing a threat to their existence.
A rise in the eight- to 14-year-old age group for which they cater has, paradoxically, led to questions about their continuation.
The schools, which were designed to provide a social and emotional bridge between primary and secondary education, cut across the different stages of the relatively new National Curriculum.
This provides a detailed curriculum for seven- to 11-year-olds - known as "key stage two" of the National Curriculum - and for 11- to 14-year-olds ("key stage three").
As a consequence, local education authorities considering how to provide school places for increased numbers of eight- to 14-year-olds are debating whether to abolish the schools altogether.
Windsor and Maidenhead council is currently consulting with parents on the future of the area's remaining middle schools as part of its review of local education.
One option is the phasing out of middle schools, with children progressing straight from primary to secondary schools.
A spokesman for the Department for Education and Employment said few local education authorities were now running a middle school system.
"They sit very uncomfortably in the National Curriculum framework," he said.
About 5% of secondary pupils in England attend middle schools.