PUBLIC consultations for the controversial education shake-up which will see Wyre Forest's schools move from a three-tier to two-tier system were "flawed" according to a county councillor.

Nigel Knowles, Worcestershire County councillor for St Barnabas division, believes County Hall should have paid more attention to residents' views.

He said: "I didn't agree with the review decision as a county councillor.

"The process of consultation for closing schools was flawed and the county council didn't consult in a meaningful way.

"They didn't take notice of what the public were asking."

As part of the wider Wyre Forest Schools Review, 45 of the district's schools are set to close - 15 of them permanently including all middle schools - following the end of the current school year.

From the start of the new term, in September, all pupils between four and 11 will move to a primary school while students from 11 up to 18 will attend a secondary.

Existing primaries, Bayton, St Ambrose and St Wulstans are unaffected by the changeover.

Parents, governors and teachers have been preparing to usher in the wide-ranging changes since plans were first mooted by county council officers in a 28-page document outlining a raft of different proposals, in 2003.

Falling pupil numbers and the increasing financial burden of modernising school buildings were among reasons given for the move.

Following public consultations, the county council's 10-member cabinet agreed to scrap the three-tier - first, middle and high school - system, in July 2004.

Mr Knowles, a member of the Education Review Board set up to oversee the changes, added: "St Barnabas, in Franche, Wribbbenhall First and also Stone First schools are all closing.

"They should have been left open because they were providing very high standards."

The review process will continue, after the schools go back, with £160million of county council money set aside to build more classrooms and improve existing school sites in Wyre Forest between now and 2011.

The secondaries, Baxter College, King Charles I, Bewdley Community, Wolverley CE and Stourport Community will all use unused middle school locations to cope with the increased pupil numbers.

Kevin O'Regan, Wolverley High School headteacher, said: "The main thing is from our point of view all the arrangements have gone smoothly in terms of a full staff complement ready for the secondary.

"With something of this scale there are things which will need sorting out but otherwise we're looking forward with quite a lot of confidence."

He added he did not agree with the county council's decision to shut all the schools, in August, as it had caused uncertainty over job security.

All existing staff had to reapply for their jobs or find new positions because of the move.

Alison Cartwright, county council development officer for schools, said: "The county council is really pleased with the way things have gone to the point where we are now ready for the new school year.

"We're intending to conduct quite a thorough review and lessons learned exercise once the schools go back."

She added a public consultation on provision of special educational needs in the district would be also be held at the end of September.