Sponsor needed for new Houghton Regis secondary school

Why we need a sponsor for our new secondary school in Houghton Regis

Under section 6A of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 (the ‘free school presumption’) where a local authority identifies the need to establish a new school it must, in the first instance, seek proposals to establish an academy. We've identified the need to establish a new secondary school in Houghton Regis to open in September 2022.

We are therefore seeking proposals from appropriate sponsors to open this new school. This school would be deemed a free school.

How to apply to run the new school

  1. view and download application form
  2. complete the form (find out what you need to include in your application)
  3. send your completed form to school.organisation@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk

The process


A four week consultation period was undertaken between 22 January and 19 February 2020 to seek feedback on the proposal. This included copies of the preliminary consultation document being sent to the 22 multi-academy trusts that operate within Central Bedfordshire, as per the Department for Education’s database ‘Get Information About Schools’. There was an opportunity for potential sponsors to request a meeting with our officers during this initial process. Requests were received from the representatives of four multi-academy trusts and meetings were held on 10 February 2020.

At these meetings, officers gave an overview of the proposal and why it is required. Issues raised in the meetings included:

  • the current situation regarding Houghton Regis Academy, the reasons for its potential closure and what is being put in place ahead of the closure
  • the opportunity to work with the Greenwood Academy Trust, which operates Houghton Regis Academy, ahead of the opening of the new secondary school
  • the housing growth within the area
  • the primary feeders and the demographics of the pupils
  • revenue funding for the new school
  • plans for the whole of the Kingsland site
  • the proposed operation of the new joint-use leisure centre

Find out how these issues were addressed.


The school specification was issued on 31 March 2020.

Register your interest

Email school.organisation@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk to register your interest in this school, so that we can keep you updated with any new information, including responses to clarification questions.

Information and clarification session for potential sponsors

A virtual meeting was held on 20 April 2020 for potential sponsors. 

Academy trusts that have registered their interest, or are interested in learning more about the new school, should contact school.organisation@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk to arrange a meeting.

Deadline for clarification questions

5pm on Friday 15 May 2020.

Clarification questions will be collated and the full set of questions and answers will be circulated two weeks before the submission deadline to all potential sponsors who have registered their interest, by that date.

Deadline for submission of proposals

Submissions must be received by midday on Wednesday 10 June 2020.

  • proposals must be submitted by email (no other format is acceptable) to school.organisation@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk
  • all submissions will be acknowledged – if you do not receive an acknowledgement within 24 hours of the submission deadline please contact school.organisation@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk
  • submissions must be in the formats specified and your submission must include no individual attachment of larger than 5MB and the total size of the email and attachments must be below 10MB


We expect to complete the evaluation by Friday 17 July 2020. The evaluation will be co-ordinated by our Head of School Organisation, involving colleagues from our other services to assess different aspects of the submission.

Evaluation will be undertaken in accordance with the criteria provided with this specification.

Potential sponsors will be invited for interview as part of the evaluation process.

These interviews are expected to be held during week commencing 13 July 2020.

Potential sponsors will be notified by 10 July 2020 if they are required to attend an interview.

Anticipated Department for Education (DfE) decision

We anticipate that the DfE will make its decision at the meeting of the Head Teacher Board, either in September 2020. This is subject to DfE processes, which we are not in control of.

The Regional School Commissioner (RSC) for South Central England and North West London on behalf of the Secretary of State for Education, will consider our assessments and recommendations before deciding which proposer is in the best position to take forward the new school. The RSC will inform us and the successful proposer of its decision, and we will inform any unsuccessful proposers.

Please note: the local authority-led free school presumption is a different route to the DfE’s free school programme. Find out how to establish a new school via the DfE’s free school programme route.