Schools blow for Bedford Borough Council

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Bedford Borough Council is set to lose control of more schools as the Sharnbrook Academy Federation (SAF) swells to become super-sized.

The four-school federation is set to more than double in size - and is even opening a brand new free school in the north of town.

SAF announced this week it will be taking over Harrold Lower School and Oakley Lower School.

It is also in “formal discussions” with the Wootton Academy Trust, which runs Wootton Upper School and Kimberly 16-19 STEM College, about a merger to become a large Multi Academy Trust.

And it is even spreading its wings to Northamptonshire, where talks are taking place about SAF running Alfred Street Junior School.

Meanwhile SAT has been selected by the Department of Education to open a new free school, to be known as Great Ouse Primary. The aim is to have the first admissions by September 2017.

Funded directly by the government, free schools can shun the national curriculum, set their own pay and conditions for staff and change the length of terms and school days.

SAF currently runs Sharnbrook Upper School, Harrold Priory Middle School, Lincroft Middle School and Margaret Beaufort Middle School.

The new plans will bring its total tally up to ten schools.

Federation head Ian Denning wrote in a letter to parents: “Directors believe that the future sharing of ideas, resources and best practice among a greater body of schools within SAF will drive up standards further for all the children within our care.”

When Bedford borough became a unitary authority in 2009 it had 79 maintained schools under its control.

Today that number has reduced to 50.