Schools for the future

Moving to two-tier education

Across Central Bedfordshire we have had consistent feedback from schools.

There is a recognition that the housing growth demands us to work together to plan for it.

There has also been feedback that we must learn from the experiences of schools who have gone through expansion or age range changes, and an acknowledgement that we will need greater coordination of any future changes.

Discussions about change has inevitably raised issues about the nature of the school models.

Across Central Bedfordshire, there is variety in the types of schools that are available with some cluster areas now being predominantly two-tier, others having retained the three-tier model and a third group having a mixture of schools.

Taking the area as a whole, the programme has established that a clear majority of schools have either already converted to primary / secondary schools, want to change their age range to this model, or are open to exploring a change to a primary / secondary or an extended secondary model.

Most of the UK is a two-tier education system. Due to the decline in the number of middle schools nationwide (from a peak of 1,400 in 1983 to just over 100 now, including 14 in Central Bedfordshire), teacher training is now focused on the primary/secondary model. In moving to this model of education, schools will be better placed to attract and retain the best teachers.

The primary/secondary model also provides simpler pathways for children as they only move once between schools. As disruption is reduced, it ensures children and young people are better placed to succeed as it allows secondary schools to have a five-year curriculum to lead up to GCSEs.

In 2018, a decision was taken by Central Bedfordshire Council to actively promote that any new schools that will be built will be primary or secondary and support schools that want to work towards a primary and secondary model of education, considering that:

  • the appropriate resources are in place to do so
  • change is coordinated, and
  • change supports improvements in educational outcomes

View the report in full (link opens in new window) (PDF, 112KB).