County Council considers future of middle schools

The standard education ladder in much of Somerset these comprises pre-school leading into a three tier main education system.

Primary school for ages 5-11 and secondary or senior schools for ages 11-16 followed by college for ages 16-18 (e.g. Strode College, Richard Huish) or alternatively 6th form in some notable cases such as Huish Academy (Langport & Huish), Holyrood Academy (Chard).

However school in the Crewkerne and Ilminster area of Somerset has historically been structure in a different way. Here they run a middle school system. Primary schools cover ages 5-9 followed by Middle Schools such as Swanmead in Ilminster and Maiden Beech in Crewkerne (cover ages 9-13). These schools then feed into senior school and so on to college.

Whilst the system works perfectly well, both middle schools are rated “Good” by Ofsted, it looks as if Somerset County Council is looking for change. At the present moment they are saying “At present, no application to change age ranges has been made to the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) who is responsible for deciding whether to agree to such an application.” In other words the statutory process that has to be gone through to change the age range has not actually started.

Both middle schools are still going through the process of joining in a multi academy trust with The Bridgwater College Trust. That, we understand, is a process that will continue.

However what Somerset County Council has done is launch a review. Futures for Somerset has been asked to carry out a review of education provision in the area and to produce a report that looks at a range of alternative structures, setting out the pros and cons of each.

The intention is that the options will be produced by the end of May and then SCC will decide which model of school provision they will take forward for further consultation.

This is interesting.

What SCC will not do, is consult on which of the models you the parents and children would like. It appears the process will only involve SCC making a decision, and then asking if you like it.

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