Consultation that could see a Bedford school close to start this month

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Marston Vale School
Marston Vale School. Image: Marston Vale School/Facebook

A six-week consultation on changes to the schools in the Wootton/Stewartby cluster has been agreed by councillors.

The non-statutory consultation on the proposed changes to move the schools in this cluster from a three- to a two-tier education system is set to begin 31 October.

A report presented to Bedford Borough Council’s Executive yesterday (19 October) said the results from the consultation will be analysed to enable any revisions to the proposed model ahead of a statutory consultation.

The portfolio holder for education and children’s services, cllr James Valentine (Labour, Kempston West) said: “The original three-tier model of lower, middle and upper schools was created before the National Curriculum came into being.

Read: Bedford school could close if two-tier move goes ahead

“And because of this, it doesn’t correspond to the key stages against which assessments take place.

“Since the vast majority of local authorities are now two-tier, teacher training and school inspection is, of course, oriented towards this system.”

The Executive heard that the rest of the borough changed to two-tier between 2015 and 2019.

The Wootton/Stewartby cluster remained as three-tier schools due to the cross-border relationship with schools in Central Bedfordshire.

Cllr Valentine added: “A linked consultation is taking place in Central Bedfordshire in relation to the Cranfield area.

“Many children attending lower and middle schools in Cranfield progress to Wootton Academy.

“Some Bedford Borough children attend lower and middle schools in Central Bedfordshire.

“By working together across local authorities and schools, we hope to support the creation of a consistent two-tier system across both local authority areas,” he said.

If agreed upon, the changes will be made in phases, starting in September 2025. The proposed changes include the closure of Marston Vale Middle School.

By John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter