Heads say future for schools is ‘unstable’

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Two Leighton lower schools will be expanded – despite fears that the £3.7m scheme is a waste of taxpayer funds.

A number of works will take place at both Leedon and Clipstone Brook lower schools after Central Beds Council’s executive agreed to plans for expansion.

Once the work is complete Leedon’s capacity will go from 300 to 450 places, while Clipstone Brook’s will also have the room to accommodate an additional 150 pupils.

The scheme has been heralded as the solution to rapid population growth in the town– though it has also met the ire of two other lower schools which claim they already have the space to deal with more pupils.

Both St George’s and Beaudesert lower schools also argue that the plan will place their future into doubt.

St George’s headteacher Marea Rawlings and the school’s head of governors Stephen Titken called the expansions “destabilising”.

In a joint letter they wrote: “The proposed very significant increase in the size of two lower schools within close proximity of each other very near to our catchment area cannot help but have a destabilising influence on St George’s Lower School... we fear it could suffer a reduction in numbers.

“The Local Authority has identified it as a very underutilised local school in the area which could absorb much of the anticipated growth in pupil numbers immediately with minimal investment.”

The letter added that the school had been making efforts to increase its numbers, but the plan would “place our efforts at risk and place further pressure on the school budget.”

Beaudesert added that the scheme is an “inefficient use of public funds”.

The work at Leedon Lower will see a new classroom block created, the school’s hall and entrance lobby extended and disabled access improved.

At Clipstone Brook the existing building will be expanded to provide new classrooms, cloakrooms, toilets and a library area.

A new staffroom and drama room will also be provided with more play space outside and changes to access and parking at the school.

Both expansion schemes will be phased with one new reception class created at each school for the new academic year in September.

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