Councillors have voted to go ahead with controversial plans to abolish 40 middle schools in Suffolk.
Parents at a protest over the loss of middle schools
Suffolk County Council wants to introduce a two-tier education system which would abolish middle schools.
More than 10,000 people signed a petition asking councillors to vote against the recommendation claiming it will disrupt youngsters education.
But 42 councillors voted in favour of closing the middle schools while 28 voted against the move.
Protesters gathered outside the county council headquarters in Ipswich to lobby councillors as they headed to the meeting on Thursday afternoon.
At present, while the urban parts of Suffolk are served by only high schools and primary schools, many of the rural areas also have middle schools.
The county council's School Review Panel last year recommended the introduction of a two-tier structure.
Panel chair councillor Patricia O'Brien said they had decided a two-tier system would "best meet the needs of pupils".
Ms O'Brien, who is also the county council's portfolio holder for schools, said: "We needed to identify a school system that the county could afford, which would serve Suffolk pupils well for several generations and which would help those pupils achieve their maximum potential."