22nd Oct, 2016

School proposals 'could be chaotic'

Evesham Editorial 23rd Jan, 2015 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

CHILDREN could suffer the consequences of a chaotic and unplanned change to the school tier system if proposed plans go ahead, Evesham’s MP has warned.

Sir Peter Luff urged schools to ‘not rush’ the move from a three tier system to a two tier one and claims there would be a real risk of damage to pupils’ education.

Mr Luff said he knew a number of first schools in the De Montfort pyramid who are currently conducting a consultation were motivated to improve educational outcomes and he wanted to applaud that intent.

But he said he expected the changes, if they were all made, to make some middle schools unsustainable.

“The process may reveal a strong preference amongst parents to move to a two tier system, although the consultation documents I have seen do not make it clear that this is what would probably happen.” Mr Luff said.

“A major structural upheaval, though, whatever its merits or problems will cost a lot of money, and it’s not clear to me where that money will come from.

“While the schools consulting believe they can easily make these changes, the consequences for many first schools would also often be challenging.

“First schools who sought no change would be forced to change too and many will not be able to afford it.

“For example, middle schools may choose to respond by becoming full primaries; that would create new and unforeseen competition for pupils, probably leading to the closure of other first schools.

“So time is needed. There is no rush – and I appeal to all school governing bodies currently in consultation, or considering it, not to hurry through this process.” he added.

In a letter to parents, Julie Jones, headteacher of Badsey First School said: “It is our intention to collect the views of parents and interested stakeholders, such as the Local Authority, local Headteachers and Governors, so that an even better informed decision can be made.

“The final decision rests with the Governing Body, but we wish to take account of all views in making this big decision.” she added.

However Lorna Button, headteacher of Blackmister Middle School said: ““Parents are being asked quite simply if they think it is a good idea for children to stay in the first schools an extra year.

“They are not being given the full picture of why this may or may not be a good thing. They are not being told of the likely consequence of such a decision

“If first schools proceed with this change, then Blackminster will not be a viable school and may close. Is this really what parents want to vote on?” she added.