Detailed proposals about East Northamptonshire education switch to be drawn up

Protesters march through Thrapston to oppose plans to switch to a two-tier education system
Protesters march through Thrapston to oppose plans to switch to a two-tier education system

Detailed proposals about changes to the structure of education in Oundle and Thrapston are to be drawn up to help education chiefs reach a decision about the future of the area’s schools.

Northamptonshire County Council has recently carried out a consultation about the principle of switching from a three tier system of lower, middle and upper schools to a two-tier system of primary and secondary schools.

The plans have proved divisive. A campaign group formed in Thrapston to oppose the switch while Thrapston Primary School’s board of governors have been broadly in favour of the proposed new system.

Last week, the campaigners in Thrapston, who are opposed to the possible closure of the town’s King John School, organised a march through Thrapston to make their feelings known.

The county council said it has received responses from 13 schools which would be affected.

A spokesman added: “Eight schools are supportive to differing degrees of a change to a two tier structure. Two schools have said that they can work in either a two or three tier structure, one school is already a four to 11 primary school and two schools oppose a change.”

Councillor Catherine Boardman, cabinet member for children, families and education said: “What the consultation has clearly shown is that although there is divided opinion, most schools are supportive and prepared to work to achieve a change, with only two schools strongly opposed.

“In the course of the consultation, there were changes in national legislation which will allow individual schools to extend their age range by two years. This means that upper schools can apply to become secondary school and lower schools can apply to become primary schools.

“This raises the prospect of schools in the area opting out of the three tier system on an individual basis. Add to that the fact that some schools have expressed an interest in pursuing academy status, potentially we could see changes happening in an ad-hoc and uncoordinated way.

“On a very practical level, this could leave us with multiple admissions arrangements and inconsistencies around school transport as well as the potential for children moving schools at different ages and key stages.

“Bearing all this in mind, I would like to have greater clarity about how each school in the area could be impacted by the proposed change. I will be calling for a more detailed report to be presented to next month’s cabinet.”

A cabinet meeting next week, on Tuesday, April 15, will discuss the results of the consultation.

The papers relating to this will be published on the council’s website on Monday.