£23m plan to change Suffolk schools

Almost £23m will be spent changing the way schools are organised in Suffolk if the county's cabinet back a report into the future of education.

Almost £23m will be spent changing the way schools are organised in Suffolk if the county's cabinet backs a report into the future of education.

And last night the county council confirmed that support for the plan would see two-tier schooling imposed on every locality, with only local fine-tuning up for discussion in a second wave of consultation.

Training, management and set-up costs worth £9.35m will be matched by the price of running split-site secondary schools, with further money spent on staff changes.

The county council is hoping a radical shake-up of schooling will save £4.4m a year - but first it plans to borrow £15m from the individual schools across the county to pay for the changes.

More cash - an estimated £58m to £70m - will be needed for building programmes in order to turn the current three-tier system in Waveney into a two-tier set-up with a single transfer for pupils at age 11. But again, the council is hoping much of that can be raised by selling school sites, with just £8m to £20m needing to be raised.

The costs of change are laid out in a report to be presented at Suffolk County Council's cabinet meeting on January 16.

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Comments in the report insist that the 42-point recommendations list should be implemented in full despite promises from the council that a second round of consultation will give parents, staff and school governors a say in how local schools are organised.

Last night, however, the council said there was a limit to how much influence the second stage of consultation would have on the final outcome.

A spokesman for the authority said: "The overall structure should be brought in everywhere and there should not be any exceptions, but that still leaves how it is done locally very much to be consulted on. "We will have two tier everywhere and the support structure that goes with it," he added.

"The stage two consultation would be open to local views and expertise through that consultation."

It is thought this could, for example, mean asking local people whether a redundant middle school should be used as a new secondary school.

A copy of the report being presented to Suffolk County Council's cabinet is available by visiting the authority's website at www.suffolk.gov.

uk and clicking on "committees, agendas, reports and minutes".