CBC seeks to reassure anxious pupils and parents over 'likely' closure of Houghton Regis Academy
Central Beds Council and ward councillors have been attempting to reassure anxious pupils and parents as Houghton Regis Academy faces an unlikely future.
Last week, it was revealed the academy's operator Greenwood Academies Trust had sought permission to close the school from the Department for Education, as previously reported here.
News of the school's possible closure comes as Central Beds Council's executive prepares to discuss plans for a new school to be built in the town at its meeting on October 8.
Cllr Susan Goodchild, who represent Houghton Hall on the council, described the "anxiety" caused to school staff, pupils, parents and the wider community.
Cllr Goodchild said: "Members asked a number of questions at Thursday's council meeting in relation to the fact that the school is currently under consideration for closure. I feel much more reassured for the future of secondary provision in Houghton Regis.
"The Council has recognised the need to provide the new 10 form entry school to address the demographic growth forecast and the need to meet a forecast deficit in secondary school places.
"In terms of the financial deficit we have to be clear that the housing growth north of Houghton Regis has not progressed as fast as planned and therefore the provision for a new school has not been needed. The low pupil numbers impacts on the Trust's funding. As identified the school is in debt and has challenges with it's financial liability."
Cllr Sue Clark, executive member for families and education, added: “The Greenwood Academies Trust have announced their decision to apply to close Houghton Regis Academy and the Secretary of State has agreed to a listening period, or consultation, on this.
“The likelihood of closure of the academy has accelerated the need to bring forward building a new school and we will be seeking authority to progress with this on the Kingsland campus at Executive next month.
“Previously we have been unable to progress the new school as there were already sufficient school places for our children in existing local schools.
“Of course, potential closure is unsettling for everyone affected by it. As a Council we are doing everything we can to help.
"Our aim is to support Houghton Regis community by advising the DfE that Houghton Regis Academy should not close until we can lead on building a new school, thus keeping the children together until their new school is built.”