Published: 15/03/2009 00:00 - Updated: 22/03/2009 00:00

Bunyan Academy set for next year

Written byBY GARRICK ALDER

An upper school will close in August 2010 and reopen as an academy in September.

John Bunyan Upper SchoolThe Bedfordshire County Council executive meeting of March 10 agreed that notices should be published for the closure of John Bunyan Upper School with effect from August 31, 2010.

It will reopen as Bedford Academy the next day.

This comes after extensive public consultation which took place recently, among parents of children and staff at the school and its feeder schools, with neighbouring schools and with other interested parties.

A large majority of the respondents to the consultation supported the closure of John Bunyan Upper School and the establishment of an Academy in its place.

Academies are state-maintained independent schools set up with outside sponsorship.

The concept was created by then-Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2000, aiming to improve standards.

Statutory notices are to be published concerning proposals to turn Bedford's John Bunyan school in to an academy.

The sponsors of the Academy, the Bedford Charity (Harpur Trust) and Bedford College, feel that it is important to build on the improvements which have taken place at the school and to consolidate them.

They say that although John Bunyan is improving, it is important that this improvement remains robust and existing progress is enhanced through the unique contribution of academy status.

The Academy would have the same admissions policy and catchment area as John Bunyan. The Academy's catchment area covers the southern part of Bedford plus surrounding villages.

The main feeder schools are Abbey and Harrowden Middle Schools. It is planned to open the Academy with 240 students.

The Academy would open in the existing buildings and it is expected that new buildings will be constructed on the John Bunyan site, ready within three years.

The new buildings would be constructed with state of the art facilities.

Plans to turn a technology college into an academy sponsored by the Church of England are also going ahead after objections were received about possible religious influences on education.

Northfields Technology College, near Dunstable, will pass into the hands of the Church in September, the county council decided this week.

The council's education member, Cllr Rita Drinkwater, said: "Sponsorship by the Church of England has been generally welcomed locally and considered to be a positive contribution to a school's make-up.

"The Church has made it clear that while the academy would have a Christian ethos it would be inclusive and multi-cultural, recognising the contribution of all faiths and welcoming students from all faiths or none.

"The Church has also made it quite clear they will not be looking to exert a religious influence over the curriculum.

"Queensbury Upper School remains an option in the town for those parents who do not want their children to attend a school linked to the Church of England."
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