Fears school plan will force two-tier system

By Ian Dipple Thursday 22 May 2014 Updated: 23/05 18:00

A PROPOSAL to allow children as young as 11 to attend a Redditch high school could trigger another re-organisation of the borough’s education system.

Fears have been raised the move by Tudor Grange Academy Redditch (TGAR), formerly Kingsley College, will destabilise the town’s middle schools and ultimately lead to closures, mergers and the creation of a two tier system by stealth.

To allow the expansion the Woodrow Drive school is also proposing to cut the number of pupils in each year from 280 to 180 leading to concerns it will create a shortage of secondary school places.

The plan is currently being consulted on, with governors set to make a final decision from June 30.

If approved, permission will be sought from the Education Funding Agency and the first group of Year 7 pupils could arrive by September 2015.

If granted it is expected the town’s three other high schools will have no choice but to follow suit. That will make it difficult for middle schools to survive as under the current three tier system they educate children from the ages of nine to 12 before they move on to high school.

The last time abolishing middle schools was proposed it was as part of the Redditch Review almost two decades ago, but at the time it was discounted as Worcestershire County Council felt it was not needed to improve standards.

However this time the council would be powerless to intervene as academies are independent from local authority control.

Marian Barton, headteacher at Trinity High School and who was in post during the last review, said the school would not officially comment on the proposal until governors had discussed it after half-term. But she added personally she did not think it was possible for one school to go it alone.

“We need a town approach otherwise we will end up with a mess and not enough secondary school places in Redditch,” she said.

“Following the last re-organisation standards slipped in Redditch. We’ve worked hard since then, we’ve now got outstanding GCSE results and we don’t want to do anything that would put that in jeopardy.”

Her concerns were echoed by county councillor Robin Lunn who added: “Tudor Grange as an academy have the right to act in the way which most suits their business. What they don’t have the right to do, is create chaos in the rest of the Redditch school system.”

Governors at TGAR say the change has a range of benefits including enabling continuity of education for students, improving educational outcomes and the provision of specialist facilities and teaching in drama, arts, sports and science.

Headteacher Stephen Brownlow said: “We are keen to further improve the educational experience we offer to students. We feel offering parents/carers the choice of an 11-18 school within Redditch will support our drive to achieve this and further improve the educational outcomes for all our students.”

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