U-turn on Kempston schools merger following public consultation

Daubeney Academy. Image: Chiltern Learning Trust
Daubeney Academy. Image: Chiltern Learning Trust

The trust that runs Daubeney Academy and Kempston Academy has confirmed that both will remain open following a public consultation into a merger – and a nearly £5m investment from Bedford Borough Council.

Chiltern Learning Trust said it is “committed to meeting the demand for secondary places by withdrawing its proposal to merge two of its academies in Kempston”.

The merger was proposed due to the constraints of the Daubeney Academy site and the school’s facilities.

However, following the consultation, there was a clear consensus among respondents to retain both schools. In addition, Bedford Borough Council offered a £4.99m capital investment in the Daubeney Academy site.

Daubeney Academy
Image: Daubeney Academy/X (Twitter)

The news has been welcomed by Kempston councillors including Labour Group Leader, Cllr Carl Meader (Kempson South) and Cllr James Valentine, Chair of the Children’s Services Overview & Scrutiny Committee and councillor for Kempston West.

“Kempston Labour Councillors were dismayed and shocked at the initial proposal of Daubeney closing,” said Cllr Meader.

“We’re very pleased that Chiltern Learning Trust has confirmed today that both Daubeney Academy and Kempston Academy will remain open. We worked hard with our excellent council officers to find money that would enable the Trust to expand and improve the Daubeney site.”

Cllr James Valentine told the Bedford Independent: “Chiltern Learning Trust has shown real commitment to Kempston and we are determined to work with them to maintain high standards for all our young people.

“Kempston residents deserve excellent education locally and we are dedicated to meeting the high aspirations of students at both Daubeney and Kempston Academy.”

Adrian Rogers, CEO of Chiltern Learning Trust, said that the outcome of the consuulation reflected a need within the community to retain a secondary school presence in Kempston.

“After careful consideration of all factors, including site limitations and student population forecasts, we’ve determined that focusing on retaining Daubeney Academy will best serve the needs of Kempston,” he said.

“We are working alongside the Bedford Borough Council to create a proposal that utilises their investment and benefits local students.”

Both Daubeney Academy (for pupils aged 11 to 16) and Kempston Academy (for pupils aged 11 to 18) joined Chiltern Learning Trust (CLT) in May 2022.

The trust has invested over £1.5 million across both schools since 2022, with an additional £1.1m forecast in 2024.

“We are pleased with this outcome and understand the strong sense of community within each school,” said Adrian.

“Through the new investment into Daubeney Academy, we aim to address accommodation issues, improve facilities, and create an environment that encourages academic excellence and personal development.

“The council’s investment combined with our funding will ensure that the academy continues to provide a high-quality learning experience for generations of students to come.”

Daubeney Academy. Image: Chiltern Learning Trust
Daubeney Academy. Image: Chiltern Learning Trust

A Bedford Borough Spokesperson told the Bedford Independent: “We welcome this decision by Chiltern Learning Trust, and the fact that they have listened to the community.

“Bedford Borough Council continues to be the largest single investor in education in the Borough, and we are delighted that staff and pupils at Daubeney Academy are to benefit from improved facilities in the future due to the investment being put in by both Bedford Borough Council and Chiltern Learning Trust.

“We look forward to continuing to work closely with the Trust moving forward, and remain committed to helping schools provide the best possible education for children in Kempston and across Bedford Borough.”

Daubeney Academy will be holding a special event for prospective parents who would like to send their child to the school in September 2024, where they will have the chance to explore the school and meet its dedicated staff.

Chris Carter, Headteacher at Daubeney Academy said: “This is fantastic news for Daubeney Academy’s community. We are delighted that the school will remain open and continue to provide outstanding education to local students.

“We are hosting an Open Event on Tuesday, 23 April, where prospective students and their families can learn more about the exciting opportunities we offer. We encourage everyone to come along and see our brilliant school for themselves.”

Prospective parents can register the open event here.

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