Part of the rationale behind this system was that the age of eleven is a period of dramatic physical and emotional change, and also significantly different from the higher age groups in secondary education. Creation of a tier between earlier primary and later secondary education meant that a different character of education suitable to the age group could be developed, taking the child up to age thirteen when they were more ready for high school.
The system has been popular among parents and teachers, but since the introduction of the National Curriculum criticisms have arisen over the system because the curriculum is based on Key Stages lasting either two or three years. It has been suggested that changing school at age 13, with two years of Key Stage 3 spent at a middle school and one year in high school, results in a lack of continuity and problems for high schools whose intake will be from several middle schools.
Under the current system the following three types of school exist;
There is no church high school.
The current proposed changes would alter this to be in accord with much of the rest of the country, that is:
In 2004 the Isle of Wight council undertook a consultative process aimed at changing local education structure, to a two tier school system similar to that existing in the rest of the country. This move was opposed by a lobby, Standards not Tiers, based in Upper Ventnor and the Conservatives, who, after they won the local council elections in May 2005 shelved the proposals pending further investigation.
The Annual Performance Assessment of the Isle of Wight Council's Education and Children's Social Care Services 2005, carried out by Office for Standards in Education and the Commission for Social Care Inspection, found low levels of achievements for pupils in schools and a lack of significant and sustained progress over the last five years. Overall, the Isle of Wight Council’s capacity to improve its services for children and young people was judged to be 'adequate', out of the four ratings 'very good', 'promising', 'adequate' or 'inadequate'.
In 2006, the regional Learning and Skills Council proposed to replace the school sixth forms with central provision at the Isle of Wight College. In January 2007, the authority rejected this proposal, and instead offered its own, which included a reduced number of secondary schools, and the retention of Year 9 pupils in Middle schools, extending their range to form 9-14 schools - a unique arrangement in the United Kingdom - and 14-19 provision at High Schools.
In January 2008, more reforms were put forward, which could see the closure of at least half of the Island's primary schools. On 14 January 2008 it was announced that at least 23 primary schools and 1 middle school (likely to be Nodehill Middle School) would be closed by whichever education pathway was chosen in March.
Primary/juniorhigh/learning centres, which would leave the Island with 32 primary schools, 10 Junior High Schools and 3 Learning Centres.
Two-tier primary/secondary set-up, which would leave the Island with 24 primary schools, 4 secondary schools and 1 faith college.
A similar two-tier set-up, which would leave the Island with 33 primary schools, 5 secondary schools and 1 faith college.
The schools would be spread out across the Island in Cowes, East Cowes, Ryde, East Wight, South East Wight, South Wight, West Wight and Newport. Trinity Middle School and ABK middle School would join to form the faith college, Christ The King College, serving students from ages 9-19, which would be based on the current Carrisbrooke High School site.
Under all the options currently on offer, all the island schools will close, however some will re-open on the existing site, while others will be moved to new sites. The Isle of Wight Council says it could save up to £2 million a year in money that would be spent on small primary schools, that under the new system, wouldn't be needed. The changes will begin to be introduced from September 2010, although some could happen earlier.
There were also calls for a fourth option of extending middle schools to year 9. This would save primary schools across the Island in rural locations and enable middle and high schools to almost continue to function as they are, although this fourth option is unlikely to go ahead.
The 'biggest protest the Island has ever seen' occurred outside County Hall in Newport on Saturday 26 January at 10:00am lasting an hour until 11:00am, lead by Isle of Wight Radio DJ Alex Dyke as a result of the Council's plans for education reforms. Between 1,000 and 1,250 took part in the protest, including parents, teachers and students. The Island MP Andrew Turner, with two other councillors also attended the protest, disagreeing with the plans.
More protests later occurred at Sandown, Shanklin and Ryde, with another at Newport. On 19 March 2008, a two-tier system was voted for by Isle of Wight councillors, bringing the island's school system into line with the rest of the country.
The local Council provides a wide range of adult and community learning opportunities. For example, the Council offers family learning opportunities, where parents and children learn together in schools. The Council also has developed community learning programmes which are delivered in communities to overcome difficulties in accessing learning such as time, transport and affordability.
|Qualifications||Isle of Wight||England and Wales|
|Highest qualification attained Level 1||18.49||16.57|
|Highest qualification attained Level 2||20.76||19.38|
|Highest qualification attained Level 3||6.42||8.27|
|Highest qualification attained Level 4/5||15.27||19.76|
|Other qualifications/level unknown||8.87||6.94|