New education plan to help Central Beds cope with increased school demand

CBC have introduced their long-term education programme, 'Schools for the Future'.

CBC have introduced their long-term education programme, 'Schools for the Future'. - Credit: Archant

A new programme is being launched by Central Bedfordshire Council to develop a long-term education plan.

Schools for the Future is a strategic plan, designed to deliver the right schools and the right places to meet the future needs of children in Biggleswade, Sandy, Shefford, Stotfold and elsewhere.

With 40,000 new homes planned in Central Bedfordshire and an estimated 9,700 extra children entering the system over the next 15 to 20 years, the council is working with schools to bring the plan into action.

Councillor Steve Dixon, the executive member for families, education and children, said: “We are helping schools work together and plan together so that their ambitions to change can fit in with the rest of their community and deliver the right school places for the future.

“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.”

Historically, Central Bedfordshire has operated a three-tier model of lower, middle and upper schools.

But schools are now being given more opportunities to convert to academies – which are run by trusts instead of the local authority – or change their age ranges to become primary and secondary schools.

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The tiered system has been abandoned, leading to confusion surronding the changes. This is part of the reason for the new programme.

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

“We’ve made a commitment to support those ambitions and will continue to work with the school community to firm up more specific local plans over the coming months.”

It was agreed yesterday that Central Beds Council will support schools who want to move to a primary and secondary model. Officers have been working with school officials to share ideas and ambitions for the programme.

The council has also been working alongside schools and the Department of Education to develop an understanding of what is required up until 2035 – the timeframe of Central Bedfordshire’s Local Plan.

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