Four schools in Bury St Edmunds to join large academy trust

Dr Tim Coulson, the chief executive of the Unity Schools Partnership which is taking on four schools

Dr Tim Coulson, the chief executive of the Unity Schools Partnership which is taking on four schools in Bury St Edmunds Picture: SUPPLIED - Credit: Contributed

Four Bury St Edmunds schools that controversially retained a three-tier structure when middle schools were scrapped across Suffolk are joining one of the region’s largest academy trusts.

County Upper School headteacher Vicky Neale Picture: GREGG BROWN

County Upper School headteacher Vicky Neale Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

The Bury St Edmunds All-Through Trust, which is made up of County Upper, Westley Middle, Horringer Court and Tollgate Primary, has been given permission by the Department for Education to join with Unity Schools Partnership (USP).

USP runs more than 20 schools, mainly in Suffolk and north Essex, including Sybil Andrews Academy in Bury St Edmunds, Samuel Ward Academy in Haverhill, Newmarket Academy and Thomas Gainsborough School in Great Cornard.

In a letter to parents and carers, Christine Quinn, chairwoman of the Bury St Edmunds All-Through Trust, said: "There are many advantages for both trusts including opportunities for collaboration on approaches to teaching and learning; joint training; additional events and activities for pupils; sharing resources and greater administrative efficiency which will ensure that more money can go directly into the education of your children.

"USP is excited about working with all our schools and is particularly looking forward to being part of our 'outstanding' sixth form.

The Unity Schools Partnership has more than 20 schools across mainly Suffolk and Essex.

The Unity Schools Partnership has more than 20 schools across mainly Suffolk and Essex. - Credit: SUPPLIED


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"Whilst there are huge advantages to this merger for both trusts, you will not notice changes on a daily basis."

She said the merger would not involve changing school names, uniform, the timings of the school day, the subjects taught or the extracurricular provision on offer.

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Tim Coulson, chief executive of USP, said: "We are delighted that the Department of Education has agreed the request by the Bury St Edmunds All-Through Trust to join Unity Schools Partnership.

"We are looking forward to welcoming all four schools to our family of schools. We are also delighted to be welcoming an outstanding sixth form and we look forward to supporting all these schools.

"The All-Through Trust joins us as a trust of four schools and we have no plans to make any changes to that structure. We expect the schools to join in July."

Vicky Neale, headteacher at County Upper, is set to retire this summer.

County Upper was rated inadequate by Ofsted last year after leaders "failed to take all reasonable steps to ensure pupils' safety".

MORE: County Upper School rated 'inadequate' by OfstedThe school's quality of teaching, learning and assessment, outcomes for pupils and 16-19 study programmes were all rated outstanding, but the effectiveness of leadership and management and personal development, behaviour and welfare was graded inadequate.

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