Tiers to be shed in school restructure?

Chronicle Country middle school faces the axe

Massive disruption could be on the cards if controversial plans to switch to a two-tier schooling system are approved.

A report to Bedford Borough Council – which covers the Great Barford area – has recommended the move despite huge opposition.

If it is given the go ahead, Alban Middle School, one of the top performing schools in the area, will be forced to close. And the knock-on effect could see Sandy Upper School losing around a third of its intake.

Central Beds Council said it was too early to say how big the impact would be on Chronicle Country schools.

Lorraine Dougall, headteacher of Alban Middle School, said she was disappointed and surprised by the recommendation.

She said: "The loss of this hugely popular and successful school from our community would be a devastating loss to the community and highly disruptive and detrimental to children's education in this area."

Two thirds of parents consulted said they were in favour of retaining the current system, while an online petition showed that 1,229 people wanted the system to stay as it was, with only 161 people supporting two-tier.

And 83 per cent of middle school students and 72 per cent of upper school students quizzed also agreed that they did not want things to change.

The plans will be discussed at a Bedford Borough cabinet meeting next Wednesday.

If the cabinet agrees that the change is the best option the decision will go before a special meeting of the full council on Monday, November 16, for a final decision.

If the scheme is approved the changes will be phased over a two year period from 2013 to 2015

Councillor Anita Lewis, portfolio holder for children's services, said: "In due course Central Bedfordshire Council expects to respond to any statutory consultation and as lead member I will be keeping in close touch with political colleagues in Bedford Borough.

"We have been discussing our current thinking and progress with representatives from lower, middle and upper schools on a regular basis and this process will continue."

For the full story see the November 6 edition of the Biggleswade Chronicle.

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