Emergency meeting called to discuss Redditch education system

First published in Local

REDDITCH MP Karen Lumley has asked for an emergency meeting to discuss the Redditch education system following proposed changes to the three-tier system by Tudor Grange Academy.

Tudor Grange Academy, formerly Kingsley College which closed in March, wants to take in year 7 and 8 pupils (a secondary school age range of 11-18 years) from September next year.

However, critics say the move would destabilise the town’s middle schools and could lead to closures, mergers and the creation of a two-tier education system by stealth.

Mrs Lumley, who has written to Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove asking for an emergency meeting, said: "We need a Redditch solution here to a Redditch problem.

"Any move to two-tier must be done at the right time for Redditch, in the right way for Redditch and with all schools involved.

"Our schools have gone from strength to strength in recent years with almost 70 per cent of pupils now achieving the five A* to C GCSE standard compared to 54 per cent in 2011 and 37 per cent in 2007, and any change must be done in order to build on these improvements."

The MP added: "I am an advocate of the two-tier system and always have been. However, I am deeply concerned that Tudor Grange Academy has chosen to go down this route at this time.

"I have contacted all of the headteachers in Redditch over the last few weeks and as you will imagine, there are many differing views on what is the right way forward."

Hilary Dowding, chair of Redditch Middle School Heads Association, issued a statement on behalf of the majority of the town’s middle schools expressing deep concern about the proposal.

She said: “Redditch middle head teachers are deeply concerned by the proposal of Tudor Grange Academy. We feel that 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.”

A consultation for the change of age range is running until Friday, June 20 and a special meeting will be held June 10 at the academy.

A statement on the academy's website, by head Stephen Brownlow, said: "Following consideration of the feedback from the consultation, the governors will decide whether to continue with the proposals.

"The governors will meet during the week beginning June 30 to make their decision. If the decision is not to continue, then no further action will be taken.

"If the decision is to continue, then the academy will seek approval from the Secretary of State, through the Educational Funding Agency (EFA), to make the necessary changes."

Meanwhile Astwood Bank First School has started a consultation on changing its age range from five to nine to five to 11.

The consultation has been launched in alignment with Ridgeway Middle School proposals.

A statement from the school said: "The governors and leadership team at our school had previously assessed the impact of a change to a two-tier model and while we identified potential benefits for children to complete all of Key stage 2 within one school, we did not think that this change could, or should, be initiated by our school acting alone."

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