I have decided to publicise my views on the local education debate. In doing so I need to inform readers of my credentials, and I apologise for the inevitable trumpet-blowing that this involves.
My new division as a Suffolk County Councillor (Tower) includes most primary schools in Bury, half the middle schools and all three upper schools. As I won the largest number of votes on June 4th (2,042) having stood as a Conservative, I do not consider that this was a mandate for reversing the two-tier decision – even if such a mandate could be carried out.
I have an Academic Diploma and a Master’s degree in Education, both from London University. Before becoming an inner London comprehensive head (successively of two schools) I held the post of head of faculty in a Suffolk high school (two-tier system) and subsequently taught in several Western area middle schools and one upper school. My four daughters went through the Western area three-tier system and one of them taught in it. My wife teaches in a Bury middle school.
Based on my knowledge and experience (not just the ‘party line’) I support the principle to move to a two-tier system. Whilst middle schools themselves may have undoubted benefits, I believe that the problems of transferring schools twice at crucial ages (yet not in time with the key stages), added to the isolation of the system within not just Suffolk but the whole country, outweigh these.
I want to work with all stakeholders to make the group three changes as successful as possible, and will listen with interest to all views on this during the consultation phase later this year.