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Threat to Brandon school's future

PUBLISHED: 11:20 14 October 2009 | UPDATED: 21:43 07 July 2010

IT was standing room only as hundreds of concerned parents, pupils and teachers had their say on plans for an education shake-up that could result in the closure of Brandon's only middle school.

IT was standing room only as hundreds of concerned parents, pupils and teachers had their say on plans for an education shake-up that could result in the closure of Brandon's only middle school.

More than 2,000 people have already signed a petition against the closure of Breckland Middle School, in Crown Street, and the strength of feeling was clear as people from both Brandon and Mildenhall shared, what was at times, a heated and frank exchange of views.

The scheme, which could see 40 middle schools close across the county, would mean that children over the age of 11 in Brandon could have to travel to Mildenhall to continue their education.

Independent schools adjudicator Alan Parker held the meeting at Forest Community Primary School in Market Hill, Brandon, last Wednesday and people were given the chance to comment on three possible outcomes; the closure of Breckland middle; for the school to educate 11 to 16-year-olds; or to keep the status quo.

Officials from Suffolk County Council's education department opened the evening with a speech which showed a three-tier system produced lower grades than a two-tier system. It also emphasised the need to bring the county in line with the rest of the country.

And while there were voices on all sides, a vote halfway through the evening showed the preference was almost unanimously to transform the school into a secondary.

One parent, who did not give his name, received a round of applause when he said common sense should prevail. He added: “It's about looking at the pupils' needs and where they're best suited.

“Looking at the child's needs they've got to be best served in their own town where they can walk and cycle to school. It would be fantastic to be able to bring a secondary school back here.

“With the possibility of thousands of new homes in Brandon, and the possibility of the relief road, what will happen if we close the school?”

Other concerns highlighted throughout the evening included children of 11 sharing buses with 18-year-olds, the distance from Brandon to Mildenhall which would impinge on parents' evenings and extra curricular activities, and pastoral care, which many felt would not be of a high enough standard in a bigger school, further away.

All the comments will now be taken onto consideration by the Office of the Schools Adjudicator which will publish a decision in the week following half term. In Suffolk, half term begins on October 26.


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