'Fantastically exciting' £14.1m plans for new school in Shefford

Campton Academy, Bedfordshire

Campton Academy, Bedfordshire - Credit: Google

A “fantastically exciting” £14.1m new school in Shefford is set to replace nearby Campton Academy, which will relocate there.

The proposals are part of Central Bedfordshire Council’s Schools for the Future programme, switching from a three-tier to two-tier education system.

The school would expand to 60 pupils per year group to meet CBC’s statutory duty to provide sufficient places, according to a report to its children’s services overview and scrutiny committee

Campton Academy principal Sarah Fraher said: “Our current site has many challenges for us. It impacts on what we can offer our pupils and our local community.

“We’ve three mobile classrooms, which don’t enable us to offer the curriculum we want to provide our young people.

“One of the constraints is we share a field and recreation ground. If a member of the public is using it, then we can’t.

“Many benefits will be gained by moving to a new site. We’re supporting children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) who need quiet, calm space.

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“It would enable us to have designated rooms for SEND support. The outside space will allow us to develop our PE activities and provide forest school opportunities.

“We can also extend the age range, so parents can enrol their child for nursery provision.”

CBC’s head of school organisation and capital planning Victor Wan said: “We’ve secured a parcel of land on Hitchin Road in Shefford, which has 150 homes attached to it and these are being built currently.

“With all new schools we’re providing in the authority we’ll be providing a nursery on site.

“The school is popular. We’re forecast to have a deficit by 2025, so these extra places will be available ahead of that.”

There were 25 responses to a consultation, with 15 per cent supportive, 60 per cent opposed and the remainder unsure.

CBC’s executive needs to approve the capital expenditure, while the full business case is being submitted to the schools regional director for the east of England.

There are risks, with the market conditions for construction at a 40-year high, so "we’re monitoring the £14.1m building forecast,” added Mr Wan.

“The land has still to be received by CBC, so we haven’t transferred it to the school or the academy trust yet.”

Cranfield and Marston Moretaine councillor Sue Clark described it as “fantastically exciting”, saying: “Children who attend from Campton will no longer walk to a school in their village.

“The benefits outweigh the fact their school is changing location. We’ll consider catchments across the locality to see if changes should be made, once the new school is in place.”

The committee agreed the report goes to the executive in October for approval of the forecast £14.1m capital expenditure.