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Bury St Edmunds schools Westley Middle and Horringer Court Middle to close in 2023

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Two schools in Bury St Edmunds are to close due to diminishing pupil numbers.

Unity Schools Partnership has launched a consultation into plans to shut Horringer Court Middle School and Westley Middle School in August 2023.

They were saved from Suffolk County Council's closure of middle schools after joining the Bury St Edmunds All-Through Trust.

Westley Middle School in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Mecha Morton
Westley Middle School in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Mecha Morton

The trust, which included County Upper and Tollgate Primary, has since become part of Unity.

Chief executive Tim Coulson said: "The number of families choosing middle schools is diminishing - which has a knock-on effect on the type of education we can offer to students in the future."

Under the plans, Tollgate would become a primary school for children aged 3 to 11 and County Upper a secondary school for children aged 11 to 18.

Horringer Court Middle School in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Google
Horringer Court Middle School in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Google

In its consultation document, Unity said: "Although some families currently choose schools that follow the three-tier system, the number doing so has reduced."

The number of pupils attending middle school has dropped from 841 in 2018 to an expected 694 in September 2022, and to 550 in September 2024.

It said: "If the three-tier system continues, we expect the number of pupils leaving the middle schools at the end of year 8, to move into Year 9 at County Upper, to reduce to 189, 210, 152 then 137 over the next four years.

"Typically, approximately 20 pupils from schools outside the middle school system also join Year 9 at County Upper.

"These numbers are considerably less than the 275 pupils that joined County Upper a few years ago, and the 220 in recent years.

"We believe that it is time to propose that we recognise that the pupil numbers are too low to maintain the three-tier system, and it is now time to have one common system for transferring between schools."

The consultation will run until Thursday, February 17 when the Department for Education will consider the proposals along with the views expressed.

Mr Coulson added: “We believe it is the right time to convert these group of schools into a primary and secondary model and harmonise admissions at age 11 across the town and across Suffolk.

“We want to encourage our local community to share their views over the plans, whether through the various public meetings that are planned or via our consultation website.”

Public meetings, where attendance must be booked in advance, will also be held on Thursday, January 27 at Westley Middle School; Monday, January 31 at Horringer Court Middle School and Wednesday, February 2 at County Upper School.

To book a place at the public meeting, find out more about the plans or take part in the consultation, visit http://consultationbse.unitysp.co.uk.