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Wednesday, 27 June, 2001, 14:20 GMT 15:20 UK
Middle schools face closure
school playgorund
Pupils may have to change schools
A widespread shake-up of the education system in Northampton could see the closure of 17 schools in the town.

The local education system is set to be streamlined from its current three-tier hierarchy of secondary, middle and lower schools.

Under the proposals, middle schools would be cut out but some of the buildings used to create new primary and secondary schools.

Staff in the middle schools say they face an uncertain future.

Nobody in their wildest dreams thought it would be as radical as this

Moray Gompertz,
All Saints Middle School
Under the plan, the All Saints Middle School will become a primary.

Head teacher Moray Gompertz said: "This scheme seems to stick the knife into middle schools.

"In my school, there will be a staff room of 20 instead of 27.

"It will mean people will have to move schools, even if they don't want to.

Proposals discussed

"It also means that some heads of department have an unlikely chance of getting the same position in other schools.

"We have known about the plans to do away with the three-tier system for some time but nobody in their wildest dreams thought it would be as radical as this."

The scheme is due to be phased in by Northamptonshire County Council over a three to four-year period.

Councillors are due to meet next week to discuss the proposals.

Mrs Gompertz said: "I feel sorry for the children because children are what it's all about.

"I don't think some of the parents understand that when their children are 11, they will be going to schools of 1,200 or 1,400.

"There are some children who won't survive in a school of that size unless they are carefully taken care of and that will be difficult to arrange."

Staff upheaval

But the chairwoman of the council's education committee, Olwyn Loud, said that children would not face major disruption.

"This will be an upheaval for staff but hopefully not so much for children.

"The education achievement in Northampton is significantly below what it should be and after spending a lot of time and effort, we have concluded the three-tier system is the problem.

"The system has had its day. Nobody is being trained to be a middle school teacher anymore."

Councillor Loud said the education system was always run for the benefit of the children.

"We are carrying out a skills audit among staff asking what sector they would prefer to work in and there will be staff development and retraining."

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