Middle Schools vow to fight academy change

By Ian Dipple Thursday 29 May 2014 Updated: 29/05 16:20

ALLOWING a Redditch high school to educate children from the age of 11 would jeopardise the borough’s education system, headteachers have warned.

Hilary Dowding, headteacher at Birchensale Middle School, issued a statement on behalf of the majority of the town’s middle schools expressing deep concern about the proposal by Tudor Grange Academy Redditch, formerly Kingsley College.

“Redditch Middle headteachers are deeply concerned by the proposal,” she said.

“We feel it is not a cohesive or joined up plan, and does not consider the learning journey of all the

children in the town. It has been formulated in isolation and would seem to be being put forward with undue haste. If successful it would jeopardise a system that has been successful in Redditch for 42 years.”

The Standard revealed last week how TGAR wants to expand to take in Year 7 and 8 pupils from September next year.

But such a move would destabilise the town’s middle schools and lead to closures, mergers and the creation of a two tier education system by stealth.

Walkwood Middle School will be among the most affected as it is the main feeder school for TGAR and is holding a meeting on Tuesday (June 3) to discuss the situation with parents.

Assistant headteacher Martyn West said if they did not take action it was unlikely they would survive much beyond September 2015. He added a lot of what TGAR was promoting as advantages of its proposal was already being offered at Walkwood.

“Our pupils are taught in science labs at Year 5, we’ve just had a performance of Cats The Musical involving all age groups and we have a choir and a band that performs. We have successful swimmers, our cricket teams have won titles and our Year 8 boys have got to the national cup final, only the second

team in Redditch ever to get to the final,” he said.

“I was seconded to Wyre Forest in 2003 during their re-organisation. I have seen first hand how hard it was for many of the first schools to become primary schools and that was with a plan when all schools were under local authority control. It’s only now they are starting to stand on their own two feet.

“As a town we have to fight this.”

Kevin Purvis, a parent governor at Walkwood, said as the proposal only included taking 180 children at Year 7 some pupils would miss out on a place and it had not been explained where they would go. He added it was also unclear where the money would come from for the extra buildings needed if first and middle schools did expand to become primary and secondary schools.

“The point is right now the Redditch education system is at a good point of equilibrium based on the three tier system and schools are getting better, Kingsley improved and is still getting better under Mr

Brownlow’s leadership, so we know it works.”

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