Exclusive: Plans in place for new Luton secondary school

Students at Denbigh High, which is run by the Chiltern Learning Trust
Students at Denbigh High, which is run by the Chiltern Learning Trust

The learning trust behind Denbigh and Challney high schools will apply to set up a new secondary school in Luton, we can exclusively reveal.

The Chiltern Learning Trust is planning to build a mixed-sex school for 1,200 students between the ages of 11 and 16, by applying through the government’s free school process.

The proposed academy's logo

The proposed academy's logo

If the bid is accepted the school, which would be named Chiltern Academy, would take in 240 students each year with eight forms of entry.

Chiltern Learning Trust has told the Luton News that the preferred location for the school would be in the ‘south/central’ part of the town, as it is the area of Luton that has the biggest shortage of secondary school places.

The academy would specialise in sport, engineering and business.

Chiltern Learning Trust currently runs Denbigh High School, Challney High School for Boys and Dallow Primary School.

Trust spokesman Chris Wright told the Luton News: “Luton Borough Council approached the trust to lead the project and it is a good time for us to be doing this as we have a new chief executive and just had our best ever year for results.

“Dallow Primary had a huge leap in its SATs results and Denbigh is in the top 100 in the country for progress.

“It makes sense and is very exciting as the school can be shaped from the foundations up.”

Mr Wright added: “We will look to replicate the success our schools have had and we’ll make sure things that work well are in place.”

The proposal is likely to get the full weight of Luton Borough Council behind it, as in recent weeks the authority has registered its concerns about the prospect of single sex secondary schools in the town.

Earlier this month the Department for Education approved a bid for a new all-girls school, which will be named Saint Anne’s High School for Girls.

Shortly before the approval LBC received a petition signed by 230 residents, which called for the council to give the ‘utmost attention’ to demand for an all-girls school to replace the failed Luton Girls’ Academy project.

Responding to the petition, LBC’s school admissions and planning manager Debbie Craig said that the town has a dire shortage of school places for both sexes.

In a report she wrote: “An additional girls’ school will exacerbate the current mismatch in capacity between single gender schools.

“It would also skew the gender balance in other Luton schools, presenting these schools with a greater challenge in terms of behaviour management and attainment.

“The provision of a new co-educational secondary school would be the most appropriate option to addressing the projected shortage of school places.”

> The Chiltern Learning Trust has opened a consultation on its plans and those who wish to register their support can do so here