Major schools shake-up confirmed

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PLANS for a major shake-up for schools in south Bedford have been confirmed, with two middle schools set to close.

Bedford Borough Council has confirmed its decision to convert all lower schools in the Bedford Academy cluster area to primary schools.

Abbey and Harrowden Middle Schools will close at the end of the 2013-14 academic year, and students in the area will change school only once, at the age of 11..

Councillor David Sawyer, portfolio holder for education at Bedford Borough Council, said: “The new Bedford Academy will open in September 2012 as a secondary school and will be well placed to continue to improve standards and deliver the high quality education that its local communities rightly expect.

“The creation of new primary schools is an excellent example of how the borough council continues to invest in our schools and their pupils.

“The lower schools in the second phase will continue to thrive and we will ensure that additional secondary places are provided as soon as possible.”

What the change will mean:

Cauldwell, Cotton End, Elstow, Shackleton, Shortstown, and Stephenson lower schools will be converted to primary schools, and will eventually expand from taking pupils aged from five to nine, to take children aged from five to 11.

Bedford Academy will become a secondary school. Instead of taking pupils from age 13 it will start its intake at age 11.

The change will be introduced over two phases. In September 2013, Year 5 pupils (aged nine) will stay at their lower schools, and 13-year-olds in Year 9 will still go to Bedford Academy. Abbey and Harrowden Middle Schools will only retain Year 6 and Year 7 and Year 8 pupils.

In September 2014 Bedford Academy will admit pupils into Years 7, 8 and 9. Abbey and Harrowden Middle Schools will close, and the six lower schools will retain Year 5 and Year 6 pupils.

Cople, Lakeview, Willington and Wilstead will be converted to primary schools in Phase 2. Most pupils who attend these schools currently attend middle and upper schools outside the Academy cluster and this is expected to continue until places are available at a new secondary school to be built in the Wixams development.