Home   Bury St Edmunds   News   Article

Subscribe Now

Bury St Edmunds County High School headteacher says they are ‘ambitious’ for the future as all year groups brought onto one site





A town high school is to begin an ‘exciting’ new chapter this September with all year groups on one site following the closure of a campus.

County High School, in Bury St Edmunds, has been using the former Westley Middle School site, in Oliver Road, for its Years 7 and 8.

These year groups will be based at the school’s main site in Beetons Way from the 2024/25 academic year.

Sally Kennedy, headteacher at County High School in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Mecha Morton
Sally Kennedy, headteacher at County High School in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Mecha Morton

There will also be no sixth form at County High from September as it will be an 11-16 school.

The closure of the sixth form would create space at the Beetons Way site to accommodate all year groups, said a consultation letter to parents on moving to one site.

County High’s headteacher Sally Kennedy, who is in her third year in the headship, said there was a commitment to a single, united site and they were ‘ambitious’ for the future.

County High School in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Gooderham PR
County High School in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Gooderham PR

She said: “September is the beginning of a new era for County High School to be on one site. Staff are really excited. Morale is very high.”

She said from Monday, July 8, Years 7 and 8 would then be based at Beetons Way, with two weeks of transition before September.

Of the reasons for a single site, Ms Kennedy said running two sites was very expensive, logistically it was difficult having teachers working across both, and being one site had benefits for the students.

“It means we can target our finances and our resources while enhancing the student experience,” said Ms Kennedy, while confirming no staff redundancies are needed.

“We became a high school last year and building our identity has been a really important part of our belonging and connectiveness strategy and being on one site absolutely enhances all the work we have been doing.”

She added they think that’s ‘really important’ in pupils wanting to come to school and being part of school.

County High School in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography
County High School in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography

With the changes afoot, adjustments are being made and spaces reconfigured at the Beetons Way site, rather than major building works.

For example, toilets are being renovated over the summer that are allocated just for Years 7 and 8 and a multi-use games area (MUGA) will be opened up at break and lunch-times so they have their own area.

“We have absolutely got the space,” she said. “We are just upgrading things and upgrading the facilities.”

Ms Kennedy spoke of the work going on to ensure Years 7 and 8 feel welcome and secure at the Beetons Way site, such as taster days for pupils and a briefing with parents.

As well as being on a single site, the school’s new pupil admission number (PAN) will be 180, a smaller number than historically.

The school’s new admissions policy also lists County High’s partner primary feeder schools.

Information to parents said the changes were to reinstate historic partner feeder primary schools as County High School is established as a 11-16 high school on one site, to give priority to families living in the Bury St Edmunds area.

Ms Kennedy talked of recent work to re-establish relationships with primary schools, such as a Book Mastermind event hosted by County.

“We want to strengthen the links [with primary schools] and offer a really strong option for secondary school for children,” she said.

Westley Middle School closed last summer and became the lower school campus for County High School. Picture: Mecha Morton
Westley Middle School closed last summer and became the lower school campus for County High School. Picture: Mecha Morton

She added the school was ‘so proud’ of County High and the students there. And, mentioning tours of the school, she said: “It’s really ensuring our local community know of the opportunities we offer and how brilliant our children are.”

Earlier this year, the Department for Education approved the changes to an 11-16 school on one site at Beetons Way.

When asked about the future of the Westley Middle site, a spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council (SCC) said: “We are exploring other potential educational uses for the site once it has been returned to SCC from the academy trust.

“This work is still ongoing at this stage, and we will update the community once decisions have been made.”

County High School’s predecessor school was County Upper, with the feeder middle schools of Wesley Middle and Hardwick Middle.

Both these middle schools – the last remaining ones in Suffolk – closed last year.