Teacher in front of classroom. Central Beds Council is planning for the long-term schooling in the area Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Long-term planning for schools in Central Bedfordshire

Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) is working with schools to determine the long-term future of education in the area.

The Council already plans for school places on a five-year basis. The current forecast is for 9,700 extra children to be entering the system during this period.

Central Bedfordshire Council Executive Member for Families, Education and Children, Cllr Steve Dixon, said:

“We are helping schools work together and plan together so that schools’ ambitions to change can fit in with the rest of their community and deliver the right school places for the future.”

Eight area-based groups for schools

Schools and Council officers have been working together in eight area-based groups. Each sharing their own preferences and ambitions in the context of increasing demands.

The area-based groups are:

  • Sandy
  • Cranfield
  • Shefford and Stotfold
  • Ampthill and Flitwick
  • Harlington Area Schools Trust (HAST)
  • Biggleswade
  • Dunstable and Houghton Regis
  • Leighton Linslade

Some shared commitments have been agreed, such as working in a more collaborative and joined up way. Today (7 August 2018) it was also agreed that, where schools want to move to a primary and secondary school model, they will be supported to do so.

Will Central Bedfordshire’s three-tier system disappear?

Central Bedfordshire is no longer a three-tier system (lower, middle and upper schools), it is now a more mixed range of different school types. Schools are deciding to operate in two-tiers (primary and secondary). However, the report points out that an uncoordinated changes by a school can affect the viability of other schools in the local area.

Cllr Steve Dixon said:

“This engagement has been driven by the need to plan for growth in Central Bedfordshire, but it has also highlighted a mixed and, often confusing, school landscape.

“However, a clear majority of schools in the area have either already converted to primary and secondary, or are open to exploring a change.”

The next step is for the schools to work together to agree a plan for their area and the Council has committed to supporting this change.