A change for school system

PUBLISHED: 11:39 06 July 2006 | UPDATED: 10:23 06 May 2010

Re: Review of School Standards. It is clear from the considerable level of correspondence that I have received on this issue, particularly from supporters of the three-tier system in Bedfordshire, that they believe that a decision to retain the current sc

Re: Review of School Standards. It is clear from the considerable level of correspondence that I have received on this issue, particularly from supporters of the three-tier system in Bedfordshire, that they believe that a decision to retain the current school structure would result in no changes to schools. I doubt that this will be the case.

Within Bedfordshire we have a high proportion of surplus (that is empty) places in both our lower and middle schools.

Although development in the growth area will reduce the surplus in some schools, the issue will need to be addressed. Steps will need to be taken to rationalise accommodation. These are likely to include alterations to catchment areas and the closure or amalgamation of some schools. As with any change of structure, proposals for individual schools would need to be the subject of local consultation. However, I am not sure that they would be any more palatable for the opponents of change than the proposals which might come from a change in structure.

I believe that the proposal to establish primary schools in Bedfordshire provides a much brighter and more secure future for smaller (particularly rural) lower schools than trying to patch up the current structure with local closures, mergers and catchment area changes.

What the county council is proposing would strengthen lower schools and give primary education in their local schools to all children up to the age of 11. It would also support upper schools in retaining their sixth forms and giving access to their facilities for children from the age of 11 onwards. Children would only need to change school once. I know that these proposals are supported by many lower school and upper school head teachers. They are saying that they can help children to achieve more if they are in their schools longer.

Do we want to retain a system of schooling which has been identified both in Bedfordshire and elsewhere as not delivering the goods, in the knowledge that some local schools may still have to close or reorganise, or do they want to change to a system which is working well across the rest of the country and which is based around strong local primary and secondary schools?

RICHARD STAY, County Councillor for South East Bedfordshire


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