Anger over sale of school to church sect

The sale of Stoke-by-Nayland Middle School to an “extremist” religious sect will be of no benefit to the community, it has been claimed.

Suffolk County Council confirmed last week that a deal had been agreed with Christian church sect the Plymouth Brethren for the school, which has nine acres of land, in Sudbury Road.

The group, which is believed to operate strict codes of conduct, plans to create an independent faith school for 150 pupils aged between three and 13 on the site in September.

Robert Lindsay, a Bildeston parish councillor and Babergh Green Party co-ordinator, said he thought the existing school could have been put to better use when it shuts in July.

“Suffolk County Council should have done everything in its power to find some public use for the site, not sell it to the first party that approached them, with no consultation with the village or the village junior school,” he said.

“A private school run by an extremist religious sect will contribute nothing to the community of Stoke-by-Nayland and will undermine the junior school in the village. The county council are helping to create a two-tier education system in Suffolk – private schools for the rich and a struggling state system for the poor.”

Chris Napthine, who has worked on the bid for the school by Larchcroft Education Trust on behalf of the Plymouth Brethren, said final details of the sale were still being concluded and the group should be given a chance.

“The key thing is to get things wrapped up,” he said.

“Comments from people who don’t really know us are a bit of a shot in the dark.”

Chairman of Stoke-by-Nayland Parish Council Una Oakes and James Finch, a county councillor representing Nayland, have both voiced their support for the sale.

No other offers were made for the site.