22nd January 2020
Now we have settled back into the new term I wanted to update you on some items that have been progressing over the last term.
Stratton School Farm – Alternative Provider Viability Assessment
You’ll be aware that last April we made the difficult decision to close the Stratton School Farm due to continued cuts in education funding, making the cost of running the farm too high to sustain with the school’s limited budget and resources. We have since explored ways that alternative providers could run the farm instead.
Unfortunately a third-party viability report that was commissioned by Central Bedfordshire Council concluded “the current state of repair and condition is at the level that it makes it cost prohibitive to return it to a safe and operational farm holding”. While this conclusion confirms our trustees made the right but difficult decision earlier this year, it sadly means that it is highly unlikely that the farm will return to operation with an alternative provider as well.
The report highlighted several items that would require considerable investment to fix, including issues with mains water, electricity, building safety and the suitability of several animal habitats, if it were to continue as an operational farm and educational facility. Instead the report suggested alternative options would be more appropriate, such as transporting students to other nearby farms with existing educational facilities. This is something we had already explored and I’d like to thank Shuttleworth College, who are supporting our Year 11 students to complete their practical agriculture experience and assessments this year so they can finish their courses.
Joining a Multi-Academy Trust
You will be aware that we voted in favour of joining a new multi-academy trust last academic year and had expected to transfer into Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust at the start of January 2020.
We are still working very closely with the Trust and benefitting from the wide range of support their leaders are offering to the school and staff. However, largely due to the unexpected General Election, formal decisions from the Department for Education have been delayed and we now expect the transfer to take place later this year. We will write separately when we have further developments to announce.
I would like to celebrate again the hard work of our sixth form, who hosted a brilliant hustings event attended by all the prospective parliamentary candidates from the North East Bedfordshire constituency. Students heard presentations from each of the candidates and were then able to prepare questions to challenge and debate with the panel. Students voted for their preferred candidate before the event and then again at the end of the debate which did result in some significant changes in percentage of vote for each party. In the week leading up to the election sixth form students took on the role of candidates and presented the policies for their chosen party parties in assemblies to Years 9-11. This culminated in the whole school voting in a mock election on General Election day.
Over the Christmas holidays three of our media and film students completed a work experience placement at ITV studios headquarters in London. The intention was for ITV to take one student on a placement but after interviewing the candidates the interviewer placed a special request to take all three because the calibre of the candidates was so high. This was an incredible experience for our students who gained insightful knowledge into the media production industry.
I would like to thank you all for your support of the school and look forward to updating you further as the term progresses.
If you have any questions in the meantime, please get in touch with the school office who will pass on your query.
Ms Roz Hodges