Sandy Secondary School: £20m transformation will address shortcomings

Sandy Upper School converted to a secondary in 2018

By Euan Duncan, Local Democracy Reporter
Tuesday, 27th April 2021, 9:47 am
Updated Tuesday, 27th April 2021, 9:48 am

An overall funding package of nearly £20m to revive a dilapidated Bedfordshire school has been hailed as “just fantastic” by a local councillor.

The project to transform Sandy Secondary School includes £16m capital funding from Central Bedfordshire Council its executive was told.

Sandy Upper School converted to a secondary in September 2018, along with the lower schools in the cluster, which became primaries, according to Conservative Cranfield and Marston Moretaine councillor Sue Clark.

An artist's impression of the school

There was no funding made available to make that change, she said.

“The school was built in 1975 for three year groups with 22 students in each class, so much smaller than the current requirements.

“The school is recognised as a nine-form of entry by the Department for Education (DfE), but the current premises struggles to accommodate six forms of entry.

“It has increased in size and popularity from 500 students in 2015 to 1,000 now.

“The improvements will increase capacity to 1,200 and a further 200 students in the sixth form.”

Cllr Clark, who’s CBC’s deputy leader and executive member for families, education and children referred to a pressing need “to address the shortcomings of the school estate”, and renovate the teaching spaces.

“This will include building a new classroom block and some special educational and disability (SEND) provision, which the school successfully applied for and was awarded a grant from the DfE,” she explained.

“It will enable the sports facilities run by Stevenage Leisure to come under school control, while remaining available for community use.

“The gym and an exercise studio will need to be updated for the community as a result of this process.

“There is an allocation of funding of £3.85m in the capital budget to allow for this and I understand the project is being progressed.

“This is really positive for Sandy and we’ve addressed a number of concerns particularly around maintaining the leisure facilities.”

There were 131 responses to the consultation and 88 per cent agreed or strongly agreed with the improvement plans, said a report to the committee.

Conservative Sandy councillor Caroline Maudlin described the town as “landlocked by river, the A1 and the train line, so for us development is very limited.

“To get this investment from CBC in Sandy to improve the school is just fantastic. Thank you for seeing it wasn’t just a quick fix and it really did need this reinvestment of £16m.

“It’s fabulous to have the extra £3,85m and the town council is meeting the leisure team people to see how plans will progress on that.

“It’s very exciting and I can’t wait for it all to be in place.”

Council leader and Conservative Arlesey councillor Richard Wenham said: “It’s a really important project as part of the work ongoing in Sandy, and will help the transformation of secondary education in the town.”

The committee unanimously approved the transformation plans over the next two years, along with the £16m funding.

Executive member and Conservative Sandy councillor Tracey Stock took no part in the agenda item.