‘Frustrating’ delays for two-tier education change in Central Bedfordshire

Schools in Central Bedfordshire are to be given more time to consider potential impacts from a shake-up of the local education system.

Tuesday, 10th November 2020, 4:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 10th November 2020, 4:04 pm

The pandemic has meant the focus of head teachers and governors has been on the health and safety of staff and pupils, rather than the next phases of the local authority’s School for the Future programme.

Some of the proposed changes to schooling are being deferred for a few more weeks across the area, an extraordinary meeting of Central Bedfordshire Council’s executive heard last week.

The different CBC school clusters are part of a process to switch from a three-tier to a two-tier primary and secondary education system.

Central Beds Council

Conservative Cranfield and Marston Moretaine councillor Sue Clark updated the executive during an extraordinary meeting called to begin a consultation over improvements to Sandy Secondary School.

“Engagement work to refine and develop proposals with each of the school clusters has continued to take place,” she explained.

“But this work has been impacted in recent months by the Covid pandemic, which continues to present challenges for us all.

“We recognise that with schools opening fully in September head teachers and governing bodies have needed time to settle into the new arrangements. The pandemic continues to bring extra pressures to all school leaders.

“We had planned to bring forward a number of reports to the December executive meeting, as well as the November overview and scrutiny meetings, concerning our Schools for the Future plans.

“We’ve decided to defer these to allow further time which is needed to complete the work,” said councillor Clark, who’s the executive member for families, education and children.

She told the executive what stage the delayed proposals have reached.

On the Leighton Linslade phase two ‘Have your say’ consultation, she said: “In the context of Covid-19, a decision was made in the summer with the schools in this cluster to delay the launch of this consultation.

“One-to one meetings have continued throughout October and carry on now, with further work still needed to finalise the proposal based on those talks.

“It’s proposed to delay the launch of the consultation by a few weeks to early 2021,” according to councillor Clark.

“This is still well within the timescales required to meet the demand of population growth.”

On the Leighton Linslade phase one (b) for the Woburn Sands and surrounding area proposals, she added: “We had hoped to bring this to scrutiny in November with further information relating to a new primary school site in the Woburn area.

“We’re continuing to work with stakeholders to determine a suitable site for the primary school, but this work is yet to be completed.

“I do appreciate that these delays are frustrating,” she added. “But please be assured we’re working as hard, as quickly and as efficiently as possible, as the circumstances allow.

“This council remains committed to working with our schools to deliver the coordinated change and the new school places that we need in line with our population growth.”