The final stage of a formal process has been agreed for a new primary school in Potton, which will coincide with the closure of the town’s middle school.
Combining Potton Lower and Potton Middle from September 2023 is part of Central Bedfordshire Council’s Schools for the Future programme.
The move towards a two-tier primary and secondary model of schooling by the local authority aims to raise educational standards.
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Conservative Cranfield and Marston Moretaine councillor Sue Clark told CBC’s executive: “This is to note the outcome of the statutory notice consultation regarding the proposal to close Potton Middle School and change the age range at Potton Lower School.
“The purpose of the report is to agree these changes and seek approval for the capital funding to enable these changes and create a primary school,” she explained.
“The statutory consultation followed the earlier ‘Have your say’ engagement exercise for the Biggleswade cluster and attracted 32 responses, with nearly 70 per cent supportive.
“The reason for pushing ahead with these changes in the town before the rest of the cluster is the very low pupil numbers in years seven and eight at Potton Middle School.
“It’s not possible to support the financial viability and continue to run really good key stage two provision.
“The council and the school consider it in the interests of the children and the school to make the changes now,” added councillor Clark, who’s the executive member for families, education and children.
“The next step will be for these measures to take place ready for September 2023.”
A need to address declining numbers in the middle school provision arose as a result of schools in surrounding areas already having transitioned to a two-tier model, according to a report to the executive.
The buildings and infrastructure of both the Potton Lower and Potton Middle sites are to be used as far as required, said the report.
Independent Potton councillor Tracey Wye said: “I’m glad to see this looking like it’s about to happen now. It’s unfortunate to be part of the Biggleswade cluster because of the chaotic set of schools.
“Given where Potton Middle School is currently and the aspirations of local parents for it to be a primary feeding into the secondary schools in Bedford and Cambridgeshire, I think it’s a great move.”
Conservative Sandy councillor Tracey Stock seconded the proposal, saying: “I fully support this, as the local community does, and look forward to it happening.”
The executive unanimously agreed the formal closure of Potton Middle School.
The committee also authorised senior officers “to enter into all appropriate legal documentation to implement the schemes, including the building contract, development agreement and other terms required to secure delivery”.
The capital budget required to deliver the schemes has been approved within CBC’s medium-term financial plan, added the report.