Kempston councillors welcome plans to save school following merger talks

Parents had previously been consulted over a possible merger of Daubeney Academy and Kempston Academy
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Bedford Borough Council has allocated money through its Capital Programme to expand and improve facilities at Kempston’s Daubeney School in Orchard Street.

Last September councillors were shocked at news Chiltern Learning Trust had begun consulting with parents over a possible merger of Daubeney Academy and Kempston Academy – with Labour councillors saying it was the main topic raised by residents during their door knocking sessions in the Kempston South ward.

Councillor Sue Oliver (Kempston North) said: “As one of the councillors who attended the public consultation meeting, the strength of feeling against closing this much-loved school soon became obvious. However, it was also very clear the current facilities were not fit for purpose as a secondary school. We promised the parents and the CEO of Chiltern Learning Trust, Adrian Rogers, that we would do what we could to intervene.

Daubeney Academy and Kempston AcademyDaubeney Academy and Kempston Academy
Daubeney Academy and Kempston Academy

"I am very pleased Bedford Borough Council’s chief education officer took our plea seriously and was able to find a means of funding the improvements necessary in order to keep Daubeney open.”

As a former middle school opened in 1972, Daubeney lacked space and facilities needed for a modern secondary school. This project, estimated to cost £7,389,645 will deliver improved sports facilities, create a performance hall, and specialist teaching spaces. The funding for this expansion and improvements will come from CiL (Community Infrastructure Levy) money from five nearby sites due for housing development in the Local Plan 2030 & 2040.

By keeping Daubeney open, the Chiltern Learning Trust, which will also contribute £2.4 million to the project, has agreed to expand Kempston Academy as it will now have room.

Councillor James Valentine said: “Daubeney is going from strength to strength under Mr Carter’s inspired leadership, but students deserve better science, performance and indoor sports facilities. This investment will make the difference and I look forward the school’s continued success.”

Councillor Carl Meader added: “Daubeney lies in the heart of the Kempston South Ward I represent and I was concerned when I heard the site was potentially being closed. I’m very pleased this funding will ensure the academy stays open with enhanced facilities that make it fit for purpose.”

Councillor Jane Walker, portfolio holder for families, education and children's services said: “We welcome the support from the Labour councillors for proposals to save Daubeney School which had been earmarked for closure under the previous mayor.

“By saving Daubeney School, the Conservative administration is committing to investing £7.390 million to modernise sport and teaching facilities at Daubeney, protecting vital school places and an important asset for the parents and children of Kempston.

“It is important that we continue to invest into schools as a robust education system is an investment into our children’s potential and their future, giving them the best possible start in life.”

A spokesman for Chiltern Learning Trust said: “Chiltern Learning Trust is committed to explore all options that could provide solutions to address accommodation issues at Daubeney Academy, which has been part of our family of schools since May 1, 2022.

“We are currently conducting a feasibility study to assess the viability and cost of potential solutions. We value our partnership with the communities of Kempston and Bedford and we continue to work closely with the local authority on this matter.”

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