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Bedford previously operated a three-tier education system, which was arranged into lower, middle and upper schools, as recommended in the Plowden Report of 1967. The arrangement was put to the vote in 2006 with a view to moving to the two-tier model, but was rejected. On 17 November 2009, borough councillors voted 19 to 17 in favour of a two tier system, which would then be phased in. However, following the defeat of the Labour Government in 2010, the new coalition government announced that the funding necessary for the switch to a two-tier system would no longer be available. As a result, the switch proceeded on a school by school basis as national funding was due to cover most of the cost. However, in July 2015, the Council announced the intention to support the transition to a system of two tier education across the whole Borough in a coordinated way. At the time, only the Wootton cluster of schools chose to not to transition. As of September 2018 all of the towns schools have converted to two-tier. The secondary schools currently operating in the town are Bedford Academy, Bedford Free School, Biddenham International School, Castle Newnham School, Goldington Academy, Mark Rutherford School and St Thomas More Catholic School.

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