Sixth form provision in Bury St Edmunds strengthened by partnership

Blog Header Image

Exciting plans to further bring together post-16 education in Bury St Edmunds have been announced.

County High School has joined other local schools in forging a stronger link-up with Abbeygate Sixth Form and West Suffolk College as part of the Bury Schools Partnership.

The collaboration comes in the same week as Abbeygate was graded ‘outstanding’ in all areas following an Ofsted inspection – and will see County join other secondary schools in and around Bury in providing a greater partnership with the town’s major sixth form facility.

The news will mean that County High School will pause admissions into its existing sixth form this September and then look at the long-term viability of its own sixth form going forward.

Sally Kennedy, headteacher at County High School, said: “We are excited to be announcing a stronger partnership with Abbeygate Sixth Form and West Suffolk College to offer an even greater post-16 experience to our students.

“Unfortunately, our own sixth form numbers have been dwindling in recent years and it has come to a point where we had to decide what was the best solution for our students going forward.

“We had 17 students in Year 12 this year and despite the great work by staff, just 42 have signed up for Year 12 in September.

“So we have made the decision to support all our current Year 11 students to find the right place for each of them.”

The decision will mean:


  • Year 12 students, who have one year left at County, will continue studying there with the high school pledging a full, and fully staffed, timetable.
  • Individual consultation will begin this week with every Year 11 student who has chosen County as their first choice sixth form place.


Ms Kennedy added: “We felt it was important to hold individual meetings with every Year 11 student who may be affected by this decision. We want to advise them on the options that are open to them.”

County High School officially joined the Bury Schools Partnership in September 2022 with school leaders across primary and secondary education meeting every half term to plan activities, collaborate and share strong practice.

Nikos Savvas, principal and CEO of Eastern Colleges Group, which includes Abbeygate Sixth Form, said: “We are delighted to see the Bury Schools Partnership go from strength to strength and are looking forward to working with County High School and other partners to support all students.

“This is an incredibly exciting time for the region. At a time that leadership, and genuine collaboration is needed at all levels, it is heartening to see the best education providers come together for the benefit of the community we all serve.

“We are creating a coherent, outstanding education from birth to post retirement, supporting each other and all our students no matter which school or college they go to.

“After securing an Ofsted outstanding grade this week, Abbeygate and West Suffolk College are very well placed to serve current and future students, ensuring they all reach their full potential.

“We also want to reassure current and future students, parents, and guardians, that we are fully committed to supporting the transition of students from County High School to Abbeygate and West Suffolk College.”