‘Arrogant’ Academy Trust accused of carving up Leighton Buzzard and Linslade

Cedars Upper School
Cedars Upper School

An Academy Trust has been accused of “arrogance” over proposed admission changes that would see its catchment areas replaced with “feeder” schools.

Currently, Leighton Buzzard and Linslade has a catchment system based on geography, with parental choice coming first unless a school is oversubscribed.

Now, the Chiltern Learning Trust – which acquired Cedars Upper School and Linslade Academy in June – wishes to make changes to their admissions criteria by replacing catchment areas with priority by feeder schools.

Under the proposal, Linslade Academy and Leighton Middle School would serve as feeder schools to Cedars Upper School, replacing its current catchment system.

Meanwhile, Greenleas Derwent Road, Linslade Lower and Southcott Lower Schools would serve as feeder schools to Linslade Academy.

And other headteachers aren’t happy about it.

Tim Carroll, headteacher at Vandyke Upper School, said: “What is disappointing is that for years the schools in the town have sought to work together as partners in the interests of all children...

“The Chiltern Trust is proposing to make these significant changes without any attempt to engage meaningfully with other schools.

“They have launched a formal consultation as the law decrees, but they will be able to make the changes irrespective of the feedback they receive if they so choose.”

Mr Carroll claimed the admission changes would impact across Leighton Buzzard and Linslade’s 28 schools if they are introduced in September 2020 as scheduled, with some groups of children favoured over others.

He added: “Why such a rush to see these changes put in place? Why not discuss the proposals with colleague headteachers across the town and come to a collective view?

“The Chiltern Trust only took over at Cedars and Linslade Academy a few months ago. Other schools remain ready to work in partnership in the best interests of all children. If this is the future of collaboration between schools, then it is a bleak outlook for parents.”

A spokesman for the Chiltern Learning Trust said: “We will be consulting on our September 2020 admissions arrangements for both Cedars Upper School and Linslade Academy for the next six weeks. The proposed changes will only be used in the event of either school becoming oversubscribed.

“We are proposing to construct a policy which serves the schools’ local communities more effectively. This includes a reduction in the number of directly named feeder schools to the ones closest to them and revising the catchment criteria to give preference to children living closest to the school measured in a straight line.

“This approach will give greater clarity and emphasis to families of children who attend schools and live closest to these schools as the areas continue to grow. It will also bring the admissions arrangements in line with the other schools in our Trust.

“We look forward to hearing the views of local people over the coming weeks.”

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