Opening Delay for Houstone School

By Cllr Toni Ryan, CBC ward councillor for Parkside, Houghton Regis

HOUSTONE SCHOOL DELAYS TO OPENING 

Unfortunately, I was told today that Houstone School, the new secondary school being built on the Kingsland Campus in Houghton Regis, scheduled to open in September will see delays on completion. Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) has confirmed the children will be asked to continue to use the UTC until September 2023.

I raised a few months ago whether CBC was on track and was promised there were no delays and that the build will be serving our community by this coming September.  

I can imagine this is very upsetting for a lot of parents and children. I will continue to keep my dialogue with parents and CBC. If you have any concerns please let me know. 

Statement from CBC
"Regrettably, this completion date is now not possible, for reasons I will outline, but I am pleased to inform you that we have been able to secure from the Department for Education temporary use of the vacant University Technical College (UTC) building, also on the Kingsland Campus, in the meantime.  
 
"This means that over 200 pupils enrolled at Houstone School can be educated on the same site from September until spring 2023, when the new secondary school building is expected to be ready for its first classes. Parents and carers of those children who have already been offered a place at Houstone School do not need to do anything further.  
 
"The college was closed in 2016 so is still in good condition and was already designed as an educational facility. However, we’re taking the opportunity to refurbish parts of it, in order that children can receive the best possible education in the most suitable environment possible.  
 
"There are a number of factors behind this change to the build programme, including materials delays and shortages affecting the construction industry across the UK, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, plus some now resolved drainage issues near the boundary of the school. 
 
"Another reason for the delay was that standard archaeological investigations, which are required at construction projects such as Houstone School, uncovered Roman, Neolithic and Bronze Age remains, some dating back to around 4,500 years ago. 
 
"This includes an ancient burial site where human remains were found, plus a significant amount of pottery, other fascinating artefacts and settlement activity. These discoveries mark the site as one of historical significance, far older than the Domesday Book, which records the historical name for the Houghton Regis as Houstone, from which the school takes its name.  
 
"Indeed, they add to artefacts uncovered in recent years at the nearby Linmere housing development, also known as HRN1, which gives an insight to 8,000 years of human life in Houghton Regis, which I hope you’ll agree are fascinating discoveries from a historical and educational perspective. 
 
"Unfortunately, Houstone School will not be ready to accommodate pupils from September, while further delays are expected before the sports field can be used, as archaeological investigations are continuing. 
 
"We are working closely with Advantage Schools – the multi-academy trust that will run the school – about arrangements for attending classes temporarily at the UTC building and we will continue to offer support through our School Improvement team. 
 
"This evening and tomorrow evening, Advantage Schools are also holding some webinars with parents whose children are joining Houstone School in September, and this update will be included in that presentation. We will also ensure that this update and any further new information is communicated with parents, residents and the wider community.

"If you have any further questions, please do get in touch with our School Organisation team by emailing:  School.Organisation@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk.

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