Councillors at Waveney District Council agreed last night to stop scrutinising the controversial Beccles Free School which opened its doors in September at its temporary home for two years in Carlton Colville.

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Waveney District Council’s overview and scrutiny committee voted that after exhausting all key lines of inquiry and influence into the free school decision process that no further action be taken.

The committee had started to fully scrutinise the free school bid by the Seckford Foundation in June amid fears of the school’s impact on the region.

As part of the scrutiny process the committee had asked Michael Gove, the secretary of state for education who has the power to set up free schools, to appear before it but he declined the offer by committee chairman Tod Sullivan.

However, after enlisting the support of Waveney MP Peter Aldous the committee did score a victory of sorts.

Last night’s meeting heard the chairman of the parliamentary education select committee Graham Stuart say Mr Aldous had made a “compelling case about the concerns the community” had about the Beccles Free School.

In a letter to Mr Aldous, Mr Stuart went on to say he would “add the process and criteria for approving free schools to the list of items that the select committee may consider in future”.

Mr Sullivan told the committee: “We have probably taken this as far as we can as a committee, but we can be proud of the work that we did.”

However Graham Elliott, of the Beccles North Ward, did say that the council should have explored the free school bid earlier when it was first brought to its attention in February.

At the time a full council meeting voted not to discuss the matter which had been raised by councillor Peter Byatt, and decided to have an extraordinary overview and scrutiny meeting in June.

Mr Elliott said: “We were far too late. It was very disappointing we had that delay.”

The Beccles Free School has been set up on the site of the former Carlton Colville Primary School for two years.

It will then move to the site of Beccles Middle School in 2014.

During its scrutiny process the committee quizzed the director of the Seckford Foundation Graham Watson and also questioned Suffolk County Council leader Mark Bee about his views on the school bid process.

Last night’s committee also agreed to request Mr Aldous to keep Mr Sullivan updated as to whether the process and criteria and applying for free schools has been included on the parliamentary education select committee’s work programme.

4 comments

  • Dogberry. ACADEMY DEFINITION: Academies are publicly funded schools which operate outside of local authority control. The government describes them as independent state-funded schools. Essentially, academies have more freedom than other state schools over their finances, the curriculum, and teachers' pay and conditions. A key difference is that they are funded directly by central government, instead of receiving their funds via a local authority. In addition, they receive money which would previously have been held back by the local authority to provide extra services across all schools. FREE SCHOOL DEFINITION:Free schools are schools which will be set up by groups of parents, teachers, charities, trusts, religious and voluntary groups. They will be set up as academies and will be funded in the same way - directly from central government. So Dogberry, I would welcome watching you on your soap box protesting at the demise of Kirkley being swallowed by AET, and re-emerging as an academy or, Sir John Leman or Denes..oh the list is endless. Infact Dog, here's the link for you to read: www.bbc.co.uknews10161371. I also advise Peter Aldous and various members of WDC consider reading the same article!

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    damon7

    Saturday, November 24, 2012

  • I agree WDC should have totally investiaged how tax payers money was being spent, but they didnt. A last hour attempt at an investigation ended up as a token jesture with no weight behind it and they gave it up because they knew they had no influence over the decision. Too little, too late. I believe the school has a lot of young people enrolled there now and doing well. Water under the bridge, move on and let the school do their job.

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    CAT66

    Monday, November 26, 2012

  • Some common sense at last. I should hope the District Council would stop this waste of time and money. The school is open and educationg local children, so what exactly does this committee expect they could have achieved at this stage? They may feel proud of 'their efforts', but I personally resent any part of my taxes being wasted on what appears to be no more than petty vindictiveness. Just let Beccles Free School get on with its role. There must be more important things to concern Waveney councillors. If not, what have they been elected for?

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    SideshowBob

    Friday, November 23, 2012

  • Having viewed this with interest from the outset this was never about the getting at the Free School per se, but was about the several millions of funding diverted form our local state schools to set this up. There was a promise some months ago that the real cost of setting this school up would be revealed, but Gove & Co have failed to provide the figure.In defence of WDC Councillors, it was perfectly right and proper that this matter was scrutinised as it was the only opportunity for this to be looked at in detail and for very pertinent questions to be asked - after all it is our money that the Government has spent to set up the school - Councillors represent us locally and are trying to ensure that decisions taken have been fair to all, hence the need for scrutiny. The school will, doubtless, succeed - but then why can't ALL our kids have the same amount per head spent on them, not just the Flagship Few?

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    Dogberry

    Friday, November 23, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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