‘Highest achieving school in Bedford’ to open second town centre site

Bedford Free School pupils celebrate their 'outstanding' Ofsted rating. Image: BFS
Bedford Free School pupils celebrate their 'outstanding' Ofsted rating. Image: BFS

Advantage Schools – the academy trust that runs Bedford Free School – has confirmed it has the backing from the Department for Education to open a new secondary school in the town.

The location has yet to be agreed upon, but the trust is working with the government and local council to move the free school project forward.

Bedford Free School is the highest-achieving school in Bedford Borough and also the highest-achieving school for disadvantaged pupils in the East of England region.*

Baroness Barran, Minister for the School System, said she was delighted at the news.

“I am delighted to see plans for a new free school in Bedford which should provide vital places for pupils in the local area and build on the success of the first Bedford Free School,” she said.

“Delivering good quality school places is a top priority and almost 1.2 million additional pupil places have been created since 2010, with many more in the pipeline.”

Chief Executive of Advantage Schools, Stuart Lock, said: “The huge demand for places at the superb Bedford Free School means that families have had to live increasingly close to be allocated a place – more recently within half a mile.

This will allow us to bring our high-expectations, highly-disciplined form of education to more families in Bedford. I am delighted and look forward to working with the Local Authority and the Department for Education to open another excellent free school for the benefit of families in our town.

The decision, communicated in a letter from Regional Director Jonathan Duff, is dependent on the successful identification of a suitable location.

A spokesperson for the council told the Bedford Independent: “Bedford Borough Council is working closely with the Department for Education (DfE) and Advantage Schools on plans for a new 4FE Secondary School.

“Once a suitable and viable site is identified a provisional timescale for the opening of the new school will be announced.

“This new school will provide some much-needed capacity for places, and the intention is for it to be located accordingly.

“We are continuing to keep school leaders informed about the scheme.”

*In the school’s latest set of performance data, Bedford Free School had the highest Progress 8 score (+0.99) in Bedford, and the highest Progress 8 score for disadvantaged pupils (+0.93) in the East of England. This means that pupils achieved an average of very close to one grade higher in each subject at BFS than average for pupils in England of the same attainment on entry.