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Manshead School Caddington

Manshead Upper School March 2007
Manshead Upper School March 2007

Manshead School is always considered a Dunstable school but it lies, in fact, just over the boundary in the civil parish of Caddington. The site, together with the sites for Saint Mary’s Catholic Lower and Streetfield Middle Schools was conveyed by Joan Crawley Ross Skinner and her trustees to Bedfordshire County Council in July 1965 for £135,000 [CCE2070/2].

The school opened as an upper school in 1971 by receiving pupils from the newly closed Dunstable (Ashton) Grammar School – a selective boys’ school. At first the governors of the grammar school served as the governors to the new school, then simply known as Dunstable South Campus Upper School [SGM13]. The name Manshead was adopted in 1972. At this stage the Ashton School Foundation expressed a wish not to be involved with the new school, which was co-educational from the time it opened. As an upper school for children aged thirteen plus pupils went to Manshead from a number of middle schools for pupils aged nine to thirteen years.

The school was a voluntary controlled school, that is to say a school which owned its own buildings whilst the staff were employed directly by the governors who were able to decide their own admission policy. As the new school was in part administered by the Diocese of Saint Albans it took on the character of a Church of England school. In 1977 the Ashton Foundation, reversing its original decision, took over the school site which the county council conveyed for no fee [CCE2070/8]. Even as late as 1979-1980 there were disagreements over admission policy with the Local Education Authority [E/SA2/3/2], though not on the subjects of co-education or selection by ability, but on the school’s view that they should be free to take children from anywhere in the Dunstable area and the LEA view that they should have a much more narrowly defined catchment area.

The school’s history perhaps added to voices wanting more independence from LEA control. This took place in 1992 when the school took grant-maintained status [CCE2070/9] whereby it became directly funded by the Department for Education and Science.

Grant maintained schools were abolished by the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 and the school returned to being under some degree of Local Education Authority control. At the time of writing [2012] the school remains a Church of England school. It is now voluntary aided – that is it is funded by the Local Education Authority but the governing body is independent. On 1st April 2009 the Local Education Authority, Bedfordshire County Council, was abolished. It was replaced by two new unitary councils, that covering Caddington being Central Bedfordshire Council, a melange of two former district councils, Mid and South Beds.