Save Our Middle Schools – that’s the name of a campaign started by a 23-year-old Dunstablian set on safeguarding their future.
Campaign founder Danielle Hoy has started an online petition calling for more support for middle schools amid the town’s education system shake-up.
Danielle, of Houghton Road, writes on the petition site: “I believe that hundreds of parents have been forced into a change with a schooling system that was never wanted.
“I have created this petition to grab some attention, as I think it is about time we had our voices heard.
“I want more support for our middle schools so they can run alongside the new system and give parents a choice of where they want to send their child. With the right numbers and the right attention we can show the councillors that Dunstable does want to save middle schools.”
Danielle, a former Streetfield Middle pupil, told the Gazette she values the specialist teaching of middle schools and the quality of the education they provide.
She said: “Also, you are not mixing pre-teens with teenagers. I am worried that parents are not going to realise that they have a choice. They can go and visit the middle schools. Middle schools aren’t going to shut in September. The schools are fighting financially and every student they get will mean more money so they will not be turning them away. It is so important that the parents get this message.”
She believes that the education system in the town has become “a huge mess”.
Changes have included various schools becoming academies, accountable to the Department for Education, while others remain under the control of Central Beds Council. Other changes include pupil age ranges being extended at a number of schools.
Danielle was “flabbergasted and outraged” by what she heard at a public meeting about how the education system in the area is evolving.
She set up a Facebook page to update parents, which led to the campaign. Danielle emphasised: “I’m not trying to force my opinion on anyone. I just think that parents need to know that there is a choice.”
Executive councillor Mark Versallion, of Central Beds Council, said: “We recognise that there are a lot of changes taking place in Dunstable schools at the moment, led by the parents and school governing bodies, and I can understand this is an unsettling time for some parents.
“However, the issue here isn’t about three-tier or two-tier but about results which have been improving in Dunstable despite or because of the changes. The changes that are happening have come about as a result of changes in government policy, which have led to far more independence for schools, including the option to become an academy and to consult their community on changing their age range.
“All parents and carers who have children in lower schools have been given information about transfer to middle (schools) and we have been directing to the ‘School Admissions’ pages on our website where they can see the full range of options available.
“Anyone who wants to find out more or has any questions should get in touch with the council on 0300 300 8307 or go to our website.”
> Check out the Save Our Middle Schools campaign via www.facebook.com/groups/574049595959901.
See www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-dunstable-middle-schools/signatures to sign the online petition.