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Keep Central Beds Schools Open

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Four Year Projection In Central Beds Points To Need For Additional School Places Due To More Pupils And Planned Housing Growth

All the evidence points an increase in school age population so this is not the time to be closing Brewers Hill Community Middle School, Streetfield Community Middle School and Ashton C of E Middle School says GMB

GMB, the union for school support staff, is calling on the Executive of Central Bedfordshire Council, when it meets on 19th August, to conclude that all the evidence points an increase in school age population and that this is not the time to be closing Brewers Hill Community Middle School, Streetfield Community Middle School and Ashton C of E Middle School.

Warren Kenny GMB Regional Officer, said “The Department for Education statistics show that in Central Bedfordshire in 2012/13 there are 37,781 pupils of primary and secondary school age and this is forecasted to increase to over 44,500 by 2017/18, an increase of 6,727 pupils. These figures also show that there are currently 43,691 school places in state funded primary and secondary education with 37,719 pupils on the roll. The forecasts show that by 2017/18 there will be 44,508 pupils meaning there will be a deficit of places.

If the 1,615 capacity of the 3 schools earmarked for closure are taken into account, 42,046 school places remaining, then the deficit will occur in 2016/17 when it is forecast the school age population will be 43,164.

There is currently a surplus of school places throughout Central Bedfordshire. In the planning area of Dunstable and Houghton Regis, where these 3 schools fall, there is currently 2,213 surplus places in the Lower, Middle and Upper Schools. The forecasts within the School Organisation Plan show that by 2018 this surplus will have dropped to 739. However, this does not take into account the 1,000 pupils that currently attend these 3 schools.

Within Central Bedfordshire, between 2013 and 2018, Lower School population is predicted to increase by 2,500 pupils, Middle School Population is expected to rise by over 3,000 pupils and the Upper School population is expected to rise by over 1,000. These are the figures used in the School Organisation Plan 2013-2018 produced by Central Bedfordshire Council.

Central Bedfordshire is also a growth area in terms of housing, with an average of 1,771 new homes expected to be completed each year over the next five years. Within the Dunstable and Houghton Regis it has been forecasted that 2,061 dwellings are planned up to 2018. These changes will have a significant impact on school capacity and it is claimed that the equivalent of 4 new primary schools will need to be built as part of the North Houghton Regis Urban Extensions to meet the demand for 7,000 new dwellings expected to be built up to 2032.

All evidence points towards an increase in school age population throughout Central Bedfordshire.

Is this really the time to be closing three schools? It’s OK for the council to state that there are sufficient places across the town for the next two years. What happens in 3, 4 or 5 years down the line? The projected rise in population means that these schools must stay open”.

End

Contact: Warren Kenny, GMB Senior Organiser on 07843 632394 or GMB Beds Branch on 01234 276311 or Steve Sweeney GMB Organiser on 07703 469403 or GMB Press Office on 07974 251823 or 07921 289880

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