Village school in battle with council bosses to gain secondary school status

Fulbrook School
Fulbrook School

A county-line school is tussling with Milton Keynes and Central Bedfordshire Council to expand to secondary school status.

Fulbrook Middle School, in Woburn Sands, is planning to expand school places for the local area by moving to a two-tier system.

And the village community voted overwhelming in favour of the move.

However, Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) objected the consultation, citing no ‘geographical’ demand for it, while Milton Keynes Council refuse to fund the expansion.

Parent Elisabeth Neal said: “The school held a public consultation which was 98 per cent in favour – the community really want this to happen.

"However, we need the support of the two local authorities for the submission to the Regional Schools Commissioner to stand a chance.”

Schools under MK Council use the two-tier system, while Central Bedforshire has a three-tier system, which includes middle schools.

Fulbrook Middle School governors said: “We can plan sensibly for the future now by allowing this popular and oversubscribed school to become an up to 16 years school.

“The alternative is a scramble for places in Milton Keynes and Leighton Buzzard which doesn’t make sense for anyone.”

Fulbrook School headteacher Samantha Clancy said: "The Governors and Senior Leadership Team are currently working on the business case for our proposal, to be submitted to the Regional Schools' Commissioner. We have been overwhelmed by the positive response to our consultation and thank all who took the time to participate.

"We need to evidence the support from the Local Authority for the proposed change, for the RSC to consider it for authorisation.

"We look forward to further discussions with both Central Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes Local Authority Officers, Councillors and MPs to seek the support we require, in order to progress with our plans."

Milton Keynes Council says that while it has a statutory duty to ensure there are sufficient school places for children, it will not fund an expansion at Fulbrook School.

A spokesman said: "We plan to fulfil this duty by our ability to offer primary school places at Wavendon CE Primary School and then, at the end of year 6, the ability for children to access places at Walton High.

"We have no objection to this proposal, but would wish to confirm that it would not be appropriate for us to invest capital received to support Basic Need in Milton Keynes, when we have no insufficiency of provision for our residents in this area.

A CBC spokesman said: “We recognise the schools in this area are both popular and successful but additional secondary school places at Fulbrook are not required to meet local demographic demand.

“We do not forecast a need for additional places in this area that would not be accommodated in Milton Keynes.”