‘Save Our Sandye school’

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More than 816 people have signed a petiton in a bid to save a Sandy school they claim is threatened with closure.

Parents say Sandye Place Academy (SPA) has been struggling after attempts to move schools in the town to the two-tier system were put on hold last year.

And a damning Ofsted report which concluded the school was ‘inadequate’ has only exacerbated the situation.

Sandy schools have been debating turning to the two-tier system since 2014 with fears over falling student numbers as parents chose to send their children to Bedford or Cambridge schools.

In December 2016 governors at SPA announced the school would become a primary after carrying out a consulation on the two-tier system with parents.

But the move was then blocked by Central Bedfordshire Council.

Sue Harrison, Director of Children’s Services at CBC wrote to parents in November 2017 saying she had requested a temporary hold on future plans for age changes at SPA and Maple Tree Lower School in Sandy saying the local authority was looking at a new approach.

“As part of a school organisational plan for the whole of Central Bedfordshire, we will be working with all local headteachers and chairs of geovernots to produce specific plans for Sandy.

“These plans will be influenced not only by the needs of our existing communities, but will also take into account how future generations of Sandy children will be able to be sure of securing good quality and local school places,” she wrote.

She said a draft plan should be available in the spring of 2018 which would then go out for consulation.

But parents say prospective parents are now being told SPA could close.

One parent said the uncertainty was causing a strain among parents.

“There has been no consultation and no discussion,” she said.

A CBC spokesman said: “As an academy school, Sandye Place is independent of the Central Bedfordshire Council, and there is certainly no “bid by the council to close the school down”.

“Any decision on closure would be made by the Department for Education rather than the local authority.

“However, following the recent Ofsted report, which concluded the school was inadequate and in need of special measures, the DfE will be following its usual process which includes consideration of closure. Additionally, there are challenges to the future viability of the school due to falling pupil numbers.

“The council has a legal responsibility for managing school admissions and in that role we have provided information to the DfE about projected admissions to Sandye Place. We have also advised those parents who had applied for places at the school that closure is a possibility, in order that they can make informed choices for their children.

“In all our communications we have emphasised that no decisions have been taken about the future of the school at this point.

“Across Sandy we are developing a plan for the future of local schools in partnership with Headteachers. This will allow us to work together in co-ordinating any future changes that the schools and community wish to pursue.

“In the meantime, we have offered school improvement support to Sandye Place and continue to be actively engaged with the Head and Governors”.