Petition against education changes presented at county hall

Prince William School Oundle
Prince William School Oundle

A petition signed by more than 1,500 people against changes to the education system in East Northamptonshire has been handed to councillors.

Protestors against the changes, which would see the current three-tier system replaced by primary and secondary schools, spoke at this morning’s Northamptonshire County Council meeting.

In Oundle, Thrapston, Kings Cliffe and the surrounding areas, education is split into lower, middle and upper schools.

But the county council wants to change this to bring it in line with the rest of the county.

Parents at today’s county hall meeting claimed that the council should tackle the issues at the schools now, rather than simply changing the system itself.

Speaker Helen Mallet said: “We should concentrate on making Prince William School the jewel in the crown of education in Northamptonshire.”

There is growing public disquiet about the issue, with a protest march planned for Saturday, March 29.

A group of parents opposing the decision, which would see the King John School closed, have organised the march, which will start at the under-threat school in Market Road at 11am.

Deputy leader of Northamptonshire County Council Councillor Heather Smith said that councillors had received several emails from parents, adding: “There’s some strong feeling from one of the schools but we also have to take into account the view of the others.”

Speaking earlier this week, parent Suzanne Woods said: “Consultation meetings have taken place, though many important questions have yet to be satisfactorily answered by the county council.

“Thrapston is rapidly expanding, with 600 new homes planned forecast population to expand by 25 per cent between 2010 and 2020, making proposals to close school appear short-sighted and not aligned with Thrapston Town Council plans for the community.”

Northamptonshire County Council began its consultation on January 10. It ends tomorrow (Friday) and a decision will be made on April 15.

Suzanne said parents established a Save King John support group with a remit to question the proposed change and encourage proper debate.

She added: “A three-tiered education system has operated successfully in the region for many years and could continue to do so.”

The north East Northamptonshire area is comprised of nine lower schools with an age-range of four to nine, two middle schools for pupils aged nine to 13 and a single upper school for those aged 13 to 18. Easton Garford CE Primary (four to 11) is also located in the area. This school was a lower school until September 2013, when it extended its age-range to become a primary school following a statutory consultation process.

The two middle schools in the area are The King John School, Thrapston and Oundle & Kings Cliffe Middle School, which is based on two sites, Oundle and Kings Cliffe. The area’s upper school, Prince William, is in Oundle.