Pupils in vanguard of a revolution

STEVE DOWNES September means the beginning of a new school year for thousands of Norfolk children. But many of those youngsters will be in the vanguard of an education revolution - possibly the largest single set of school changes in Norfolk's history.

STEVE DOWNES

September means the beginning of a new school year for thousands of Norfolk children. But many of those youngsters will be in the vanguard of an education revolution - possibly the largest single set of school changes in Norfolk's history.

The start of the year 2007-8 sees the launch of new schools and revamped buildings, and old schools shut down as part of a pair of multi-million-pound projects.

The schemes are designed to ensure that all children in Norfolk start high school at age 11.

The revolution goes back to 1998, when Norfolk county councillors decided they wanted school transfer ages to fit in with national curriculum key stages.

A similar decision was made recently in Suffolk, where the entire county is affected.

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In Norfolk, however, many areas were already tied into the favoured infant, junior and primary system.

But for those with first and middle schools, a drawn-out project has been under way to make the changes happen.

The decision nearly 10 years ago means the death knell for scores of first and middle schools, many at-times-traumatic school mergers, plus the extension of a host of high schools to enable them to take a new year group at age 11.

The fallout has included headteachers having to apply for new jobs, children moving to different sites, and long-established schools becoming mere memories.

Many of the latest schools affected are in Norwich and its immediate surrounds.

A £79m private finance initiative (PFI) project is delivering five new schools - of which Lakenham Primary and Heartsease Primary open in September and the others in September 2008 - plus an extension to Taverham High.

And £22m, mainly from Norfolk County Council coffers, has paid for alterations and extensions to all of the other affected schools.

Meanwhile, a near-£80m scheme - funded through traditional government lending after a PFI project with controversial firm Jarvis collapsed - is on course to change the age of transfer in Yarmouth and a host of market towns.

The first to be completed, and to open this September, are in the Swaffham, Stalham and Martham areas.

The county's final 12-plus transfer schools, in Caister, Gorleston and Yarmouth, will change from September 2008.

In all, 109 schools are affected by the changes from this September.

The huge building project means Norfolk's total of 451 state schools will reduce to 441 when the final school bell rings at the end of July.

Alison Cunningham, the council's school development officer, who is overseeing the changes, said: “It has been extremely complicated. We've relied very heavily on the goodwill and hard work done by schools and staff.

“We know it has been very difficult for them. It has been particularly difficult in those areas where headteachers have had to reapply for jobs or reconsider their future.

“Closing a school is an emotional business. But we feel positive that come September a lot of staff and pupils will be starting work in wonderful new schools or refurbished buildings.”

KEY

First schools - four to eight years old

Infant schools - four to seven

Junior schools - seven to 11

Middle schools - eight to 12

Primary schools - four to 11

High schools - previously some were 12-16 or 12-18, but will now all be 11-16 or 11-18.

SWAFFHAM CLUSTER

Hamond's High School, Swaffham, will admit children at age 11.

Swaffham First becomes Swaffham Infant.

South Greenhoe Middle becomes South Greenhoe Junior.

Marham Airfield First becomes Marham Infant.

Marham Middle becomes Marham Junior.

Necton VA First merges with Necton VC Middle to become Necton VA Primary on the middle school site. No decision has yet been made on the future of the first school site.

STALHAM CLUSTER

Stalham High admits children at age 11 for the first time.

Stalham First becomes Stalham Infant.

Sutton First becomes Sutton Infant.

East Ruston First becomes East Ruston Infant.

Hickling First becomes Hickling Infant.

Stalham Middle becomes Stalham Junior.

MARTHAM CLUSTER

Flegg High will admit at age 11.

Rollesby First becomes Rollesby Primary.

Winterton First becomes Winterton Primary.

Ormesby First becomes Ormesby Infant.

Filby First becomes Filby Primary.

Hemsby First becomes Hemsby Primary.

Ormesby Middle becomes Ormesby Junior.

Martham First merges with West Flegg Middle to become Martham Primary on the site of the middle school. It will initially be on a split site, but an extension at the middle school is due to be completed for September 2008, enabling the primary school to move to one site.

BLYTH-JEX CLUSTER, NORWICH

The Blyth-Jex will admit at age 11.

Angel Road First becomes Angel Road Infant.

Angel Road Middle becomes Angel Road Junior.

Catton Grove First and Nursery merges with Catton Grove Middle to become Catton Grove Primary on the existing site.

Dowson First merges with Norman First and Mile Cross Middle to become Mile Cross Primary on the Norman site. Consultation is underway to decide the future use of the Mile Cross and Dowson sites

George White Middle becomes George White Junior.

Magdalen Gates First becomes Magdalen Gates Primary.

Mousehold First and Nursery becomes Mousehold Infant and Nursery.

EARLHAM CLUSTER, NORWICH

Earlham High will admit at age 11.

Blackdale Middle merges with Northfields First to become Bluebell Primary on the Northfields site. The sale of the buildings has been agreed, but the decision on the future of the playing fields is with the Department for Education and Skills (DfES).

Chapel Break First becomes Chapel Break Infant.

Clover Hill First and Nursery becomes Clover Hill Infant and Nursery.

Larkman First merges with Larkman Middle to become Larkman Primary on the existing sites.

Mill View Middle merges with Knowland Grove First to become Valley Primary on the existing sites.

Nelson First becomes Nelson Infant.

Ranworth First becomes Henderson Green Primary.

St Michael's VA Middle becomes St Michael's VA Junior.

West Earlham Community First becomes West Earlham Infant.

West Earlham Middle becomes West Earlham Junior.

Wensum Middle becomes Wensum Junior.

CITY OF NORWICH CLUSTER

City of Norwich School will admit at age 11.

Avenue First merges with Heigham Park First to become Recreation Road Infant on the Heigham Park site.

Avenue Middle becomes Avenue Junior.

Colman First becomes Colman Infant.

Colman Middle becomes Colman Junior.

The Fairway First merges with The Fairway Middle to become Eaton Primary on the existing site.

HEARTSEASE CLUSTER

Heartsease High will admit at age 11.

Heartsease First merges with Heartsease Middle and Woodside First to become Heartsease Primary on the Heartsease site.

Thorpe Hamlet First and Nursery merges with Wellesley First to become Lionwood Infant on the Thorpe Hamlet site.

Thorpe Hamlet Middle becomes Lionwood Junior.

Consultation is taking place on the future of the Woodside and Wellesley sites. Norfolk County Council's preferred option is that Woodside be used for ICT solutions, an ICT support service for all Norfolk schools.

HELLESDON CLUSTER

Hellesdon High will admit at age 11.

Arden Grove First becomes Arden Grove Infant.

Firside Middle becomes Firside Junior.

Heather Avenue First becomes Heather Avenue Infant.

Kinsale First becomes Kinsale Infant.

Kinsale Middle becomes Kinsale Junior.

Horsford All Saints VC Middle becomes Horsford All Saints VC Junior.

Horsford CE First becomes Horsford Infant.

Horsham St Faiths VC First becomes Horsham St Faiths CE VC Primary.

HETHERSETT CLUSTER

Hethersett High will admit at age 11.

Cringleford CE VA First and Middle becomes Cringleford CE VA Primary.

Hethersett VC Middle becomes Hethersett VC Junior.

Woodside First and Nursery becomes Woodside Infant and Nursery.

Little Melton First becomes Little Melton Primary.

Mulbarton Middle becomes Mulbarton Junior.

Mulbarton First becomes Mulbarton Infant.

CATHOLIC SCHOOLS, NORWICH

Notre Dame High will admit at age 11.

St John's RC First becomes St John's Catholic Infant.

St Thomas More RC Middle becomes St Thomas More Catholic Junior.

HEWETT CLUSTER, NORWICH

The Hewett will admit at age 11.

Bignold First and Nursery merges with Bignold Middle to become Bignold Primary on the existing site.

Cavell First and Nursery becomes Cavell Primary and Nursery.

Lakenham First and Nursery merges with Lakenham Middle to become Lakenham Primary on the middle school site.

South Harford Middle merges with Tuckswood First to become Tuckswood Primary on the Tuckswood site.

Consultation is taking place on the future of Lakenham and South Harford.

SPROWSTON CLUSTER, NORWICH

Sprowston High will admit at age 11.

Old Catton VC Middle becomes Old Catton VC Junior.

Garrick Green First becomes Garrick Green Infant.

Lodge Lane First becomes Lodge Lane Infant.

Woodland View Midddle becomes Woodland View Junior.

Sprowston First becomes Sprowston Infant.

Sprowston Middle becomes Sprowston Junior.

Cecil Gowing First becomes Cecil Gowing Infant.

Falcon Middle becomes Falcon Junior.

Sparhawk First and Nursery becomes Sparhawk Infant and Nursery.

White Woman Lane Middle becomes White Woman Lane Junior.

Frettenham First becomes Frettenham Primary.

Hainford First becomes Hainford Primary.

Spixworth First becomes Spixworth Infant.

TAVERHAM CLUSTER

Taverham High will admit at age 11.

Drayton Community First becomes Drayton Community Infant.

Drayton VC Middle becomes Drayton Community Infant.

Ghost Hill First and Nursery becomes Ghost Hill Infant and Nursery.

Nightingale First becomes Nightingale Infant.

Taverham Middle becomes Taverham Junior.

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