Application rejected by Central Bedfordshire Council
Aspley Guise community campaigner, John Baker, is concerned that despite public backing, Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) is objecting to Fulbrook Middle School’s plan to become a secondary school.
Unlike most of the UK, Central Bedfordshire has historically been a three-tier school system with lower, middle and upper schools.
The alternative, two-tier school system has primary and secondary schools.
Mr Baker said:
“Fulbrook’s headteacher and governors have worked with its feeder schools (Aspley Guise, Woburn, Husborne Crawley, Ridgmont and Swallowfield) to produce a plan that would secure local secondary education and keep schools open.
“Fulbrook carried out a public consultation of which 736 responses were received, 98% backing the proposal to extend its age range. Sadly, Central Beds Council does not support Fulbrook and sits in the 2%.”
At the moment pupils aged 13-16 years old have to travel to Leighton Buzzard
The school feels that its plan to extend its age range would address the local community’s desire for a local school, and remove the need to travel to Leighton Buzzard. A school spokesperson said:
“We also feel it would help to address the shortfall in pupil places in the fast growing Leighton Buzzard area by keeping the pupils at Fulbrook and releasing places at the upper schools, currently taken by Fulbrook pupils at Year 9.
“Additionally, this would save Council funds used for providing the bus services and, for those pupils on the Milton Keynes side of Woburn Sands, the fees they have to pay for transport to Leighton Buzzard or Milton Keynes schools.”
CBC’s current pupil forecast suggests there will be an extra 9,700 children attending the area’s schools in the next 5 years. The Council will have to ensure that there are enough places for these pupils.
Last year, CBC made policy changes to supports schools and clusters that want to work towards the towards the two-tier system. However, the Council is opposed to Fulbrook’s plans.
A CBC spokesperson said:
“We recognise that the schools in this area are both popular and successful, but additional secondary school places at Fulbrook are not required to meet local demographic demand.
“As part of our duty to co-operate, we are working closely with neighbouring authorities and do not forecast a need for additional places in this area that would not be accommodated in Milton Keynes.
“Whilst a decision on this proposal will ultimately lie with the Regional Schools Commissioner, we have been taking a holistic view and actively working with all schools in the area as part of our Schools for the Future programme.
“We are facilitating discussions between schools, helping them to work together to coordinate and plan any changes and ensure we have the right schools in the right places delivering the best education.”
Backed by PTA
Fulbrook’s plan is backed by its parent & teachers association (PTA). A PTA spokesperson said:
“The overwhelmingly positive response to the recent consultation is however being undermined by both Central Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes Council who are ignoring the existence of Fulbrook in their future schooling plans.
“The school urgently needs local authority support to move forward.”
Fulbrook Middle School is continuing to talk to the Councillors and Officers of Central Bedfordshire Council and Milton Keynes Council. It will be submitting a business case to the Regional Schools Commissioner.
Information on Fulbrook’s plan can be found here:
Information on the Schools for the Future programme is here: