Suffolk school campaigners wanting to turn back the clock over Middle School reforms are wrong

In Norfolk and Suffolk, the old middle School system, which involved 8-12 year olds being in separate Middle schools is being replaced with a system of Infant and Junior schools, teaching the appropriate keystage, or all through Primary schools teaching all children up to the age of eleven.

In Norfolk, this process had been virtually completed, with the remaining Middle schools in Norwich closing in July and new schools opening in September. However, Suffolk, which is at a similar stage, thinks that it knows better, or at least some campaigners do.

The EDP reports on the complaints and protests HERE, but I fear they have missed the point.

I teach in a Middle School in Norwich, teaching year seven pupils, who are technically in key Stage three. this provides some significant problems.

For example,
- What type of teacher do you employ to work in your school ?
- Should you employ a key stage two qualified teacher who can teach in up to year six, or a key stage three teacher who can teach 12 year olds ?
-Are key stage three teachers trained to be able to teach all subjects like junior school teachers are or are they specialist teachers ?
- Should you have mixed key stages at the same school ?

I enjoy teaching year sevens, it is something of a challenge. However, I recognise the fact that most Middle schools are ill equipped to do all the things required in Key stage three. Most Middle school's science labs, DT facilities and cooking facilities are simply not up to high school standards, whilst year sevens are, in my opinion, ready for high school.

The biggest reason for keeping year sevens at middle schools is a financial one. A school receives about £1500 more per year seven pupil than they do for a year six. this is an incredible and, frankly, a ludicrous discrepancy, which shows quite clearly how little value governments place on primary school teaching. So whilst I can see the financial arguments for keeping Middle School, on an education basis alone, I cannot see a justification.

they used to say "Norfolk does different", it appears more like "Suffolk stands still", whilst the rest of the world moves on.


Matt Marshall said...

The two tier system works best, it's a shame not everyone down here agrees. Of course it's more the parents opinion of "I don't want my little boy to be moved around, he's happy where he is" more than "oh I feel that three tiers works best".

Tristan said...

It seems to me that the problem isn't middle schools but the whole centralised planning of education with the National Curriculum and key stages etc.

The middle school system works very well under the right circumstances (and probably better than the primary/junior/senior system when its allowed to)

Local areas should be allowed to administer education as they wish.

(my cousin attends a middle school system in somerset, it works very well in the rural area he lives in - the first school is quite small and local, then when he's old enough there's a school bus for the middle and upper schools)

Neil Welton said...

Preparatory schools in the independent sector educate children from aged eight to around thirteen. Indeed, I understand the idea of Middle Schools were originally based upon this principle. I'm therefore not surprised the Government wants to get rid of them. Funny how prep schools don't have a problem achieving high educational standards - I can personally vouch for that. Mind you, saying that, they don't have the same problems raising revenue. I therefore agree with Tristan here - "the middle school system works very well under the right circumstances (and probably better than the primary/junior/senior system when its allowed to)". The right circumstances would also include bucket loads of cash - that's why I agree with the privatisation (or part-privatisation) of state schools and turning them all into Trusts. Children deserve only excellence. That is why I wouldn't have mine educated by the state as it is now configurated. (Nice name Tristan, I think I might name my son that.)