The government announced today (Tuesday) that Bedford is among 55 areas in the UK earmarked for levelling up funding as it is deemed an educational ‘cold spot’.
Details are currently unclear, but teachers in areas where education outcomes are weakest will be offered a “levelling-up premium” in a bid to encourage them to remain in the profession.
There is also the suggestion that specialist ‘elite’ sixth form free schools would be established in disadvantaged areas.
Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire were both on the list, as was Luton.
The Bedford Independent contacted Bedford Borough Council but they declined to comment while the details of the funding were still unclear.
Mohammad Yasin, Labour MP for Bedford & Kempston told the Bedford Independent: “The Tories have been in power for over a decade so to admit that there are 55 areas where school children are being let down is an admission of unforgivable failure.
“These half-baked plans rushed out to the media today and not put before Parliament for scrutiny as they should be, are just another attempt to bolster the Prime Minister’s reputation after all the recent scandals.
“It shouldn’t be “a new goal” to ensure 90% of children leaving primary school reach expected standards in reading, writing and maths by 2030. That’s not ambitious – it’s failing children.
“And to talk about providing children with youth clubs when they spent most of the last decade cutting funding for Sure Start centres and youth activities is shameless. Tory cuts to education have blighted a generation of children.”
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said that the soon-to-be-published White Paper was a blueprint for putting skills, schools and families “at the heart of levelling up”.
“It focuses on putting great schools in every part of the country, training that sets you up for success in a high-skilled, well-paid career and ensuring no one misses out on opportunities simply because of where they live or their family background.
Richard Fuller, Conservative MP for North East Bedfordshire did not respond in time for our deadline.