Beds, Herts & Bucks

School for 'more vulnerable' pupils approved in Bedfordshire

A plan for a new free school in Bedfordshire for "more vulnerable pupils" has been given the go-ahead by the government.

Ten comprehensive upper schools in the county submitted a bid for their own school to the Department of Education.

The school will provide more vocational education and personalised support for approximately 140 pupils.

It will be on two sites, at Kingsland School in Houghton Regis and the former Roecroft Lower School in Stotfold.

Chair of the bid, Nigel Croft, head teacher at Redborne Upper School in Ampthill, said: "The new facility will give [pupils] the appropriate pathways and curriculum to succeed in either employment or further training."

The "alternative provision" free school is due to open in September 2013.

It will take pupils from the 10 upper schools in the Central Bedfordshire local authority area for whom the "mainstream curriculum is not appropriate", Mr Croft said.

He added that by working together, they are trying to avoid the potential for children being permanently excluded and simply ending up at another one of the schools.

'Intensive assessment'

Mr Croft said it was important the school was not labelled as one just for "excluded pupils".

"It is not a naughty boys' and girls' school, it is an alternative curriculum provision," he said.

"Pupils will have an intensive assessment on transfer and a curriculum will be built for them around their specific needs.

"Our aim is not to have any permanently excluded pupils in Central Bedfordshire."

He revealed that as well as a core grounding in English, Maths and Information Technology, there will also be built in vocational provision so that subjects such as mechanics, construction and hair and beauty will be offered.

"There is no point in them doing modern languages, history or geography if they are going to feel disaffected, let's give them something else, let's get them some skills and qualifications," he said.

When the plans were put forward, Central Bedfordshire councillor Mark Versallion said the proposal would mean fewer children dropping out of the education system.

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