[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 January 2007, 18:30 GMT
Parents fight middle school loss
Suffolk schools protest
Parents stage a protest over the loss of middle schools
Plans to close 40 middle schools in Suffolk at a cost of £23m are set to go ahead despite protests from parents.

Parents Against Change claim the move from three-tiers to two will disrupt education for thousands of youngsters.

Suffolk County Council argues that two-tier pupils do better but the parents' group disputes this claim.

Officials claim the change will lift standards and they are following Essex where there are no middle schools and Norfolk where they will be phased out.

The plan has won the backing of the council's cabinet and a final decision will be made in March.

But thousands of concerned parents who protested at County Hall in Ipswich on Tuesday now say they are writing to their councillors and MP's to try to stop the proposed recommendations.

Doubts over system

"Although the panel has voted to go ahead with the change to a two-tier system, there is still time before the council's final decision on 22 March, for parents to make a difference," said Steve Cowper, one of the parents leading the campaign.

"In Bedfordshire, it was parents who overturned the decision there to go to a two-tier system of education.

"There is no conclusive evidence that changing to two-tier will bring an improvement in our children's education" said parent Lindsay Keswick.

"The disruption to children and staff morale during the proposed re-organisation puts at risk the education of a whole generation of children.

"Our children feel safe and secure in the smaller middle schools, who can offer more specialised facilities and greater opportunities for creative and personal development," added another parent, Jill Knell.

"Taxpayers' money would be better invested in the current system," she said.

Council Leader Jeremy Pembroke said the cabinet¿s decision to support the recommendation was unanimous and it will now be discussed at the full county council meeting on 22 March.

He said: ¿We took great care to study the panel¿s final report and the supporting evidence and in the end we felt that the case for change was overwhelming.

¿We are also aware that many people are opposed to the proposals.

"However, the county council does have statutory responsibility for planning and managing the county¿s education and therefore we have to take often difficult decisions on how we can achieve the very best education for our children in the long term.¿


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Protest over abolition of Suffolk's middle schools



SEE ALSO
Call for two-tier education plan
01 Dec 06 |  Suffolk
Views sought on education review
30 May 06 |  Suffolk
Plan for major education review
01 Jan 06 |  Suffolk

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific