1. ITV Report

Council to press ahead with Dunstable school closure plans

Central Bedfordshire Council is pressing ahead with plans to close three middle schools in Dunstable. Photo:

Councillors in Bedfordshire have decided to press ahead with the closure of three middle schools in the county - and rejected a proposal for one of them to become a high school.

Statutory notices will now be issued outlining the plans to shut Ashton, Brewers Hill and Streetfield middle schools in Dunstable.

Central Bedfordshire Council officials had recommended the three sites close because they believe current and future pupil numbers make them unviable.

It follows a shift in the county from a three-tier school system to a two-tier one after a number of first and high schools made use of extended their age ranges.

Ashton Middle School had submitted a proposal to change its age range to become a secondary school catering for youngsters aged 11 to 16.

But at a meeting this week, councillors rejected that suggestion, insisting "the school had been unable to clearly articulate that the proposal was viable, either on financial or education grounds".

Cllr Mark Versallion, Central Bedfordshire's member for children's services, said: "These were not easy decisions to come to but, having considered all the evidence, we have to act and move to the next stage of the process.

"As we have said throughout, the issue here is not about whether middle schools or any of these three schools are good or bad - it is about whether they are financially viable going forward."

Statutory notices will be available to view until June 9 and a formal consultation on the closure plans will run until July 7.

The schools will now have the opportunity to prepare business cases to argue for their site to remain open.

Central Bedfordshire Council's executive will consider them at a meeting in August ahead of a final decision being made.