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Suffolk County Council Approves Proposals for Two-Tier School System

Wednesday, 17th January 2007.

Suffolk County Council's Cabinet has agreed to approve the proposals for changes to Suffolk schools, including a move to an all two-tier system.

Councillor Jeremy Pembroke, Leader of Suffolk County Council, said that the Cabinet's decision to support the Policy Development Panel's recommendations was unanimous. The recommendations of the Cabinet will be discussed at the full county council meeting on 22 March 2007.

Cllr Pembroke said: "We took great care to study the panel's final report and the supporting evidence and in the end we felt that the case for change was overwhelming. We recognised that these are far reaching and highly ambitious proposals, which will involve changing a system that has been in place in parts of the county since the 1970s.

"We are also aware that many people are opposed to the proposals. However, the county council does have statutory responsibility for planning and managing the county's education and therefore we have to take often difficult decisions on how we can achieve the very best education for our children in the long term."

Suffolk County Council issued the following information to support their decision.

Why we need to improve: 7 key facts

85% of three-tier schools are significantly below the national average for progress made by pupils between ages 7 and 11. The figure for two-tier schools is 12%.

17 out of 18 three-tier school pyramids (groups of schools) in Suffolk lag behind the national average for the progress of pupils aged between 7 and 11.

Suffolk is in the bottom 25% of all authorities for mathematics at Key Stage 2 (119 out of 150 in 2005).

The lower performance in three-tier schools at age 11 is never completely made good for all pupils.

Academic performance in two-tier schools is better than in three-tier schools on key measures such as 5+ A*-C GCSE results and GCE A-Level results.

There is not a single subject where the three-tier schools exceed the performance of two-tier schools at GCSE, despite specialist subjects being taught for two extra years in the three-tier system.

The number of pupils staying on in further education in the three-tier system is significantly lower than that in the two-tier.

Councillor Pembroke concluded: "The body of evidence presented to us was clear and unambiguous."

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