A controversial new free school in Waveney has opened its doors for the first time this morning.

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Beccles Free School has opened at the former Carlton Colville Primary School, after months of debate and arguments about the proposal.

The free school, opened by the Seckford Foundation Free Schools Trust, has made national headlines after securing funding from the Department for Education, despite a vocal campaign against it.

However this morning a register of 68 pupils in years 7, 8 and 9 were welcomed by their new teachers, while protestors lined up outside to hold a silent protest against the decision to approve it.

Graham Watson, director of the Seckford Foundation, said: “I am absolutely thrilled and delighted that this day has come to give young people a very good opportunity in education.”

When asked about accusations from campaigners that the school was a “waste of money”, he said: “Suffolk has been an under performing county for many years and something needed to happen to raise standards.

“We believe what we are offering will help to do that.”

He added that the vocal campaign against the school had made them “more determined to succeed.”

Headteacher John Lucas said he was proud of the vision for the school and happy with his “strong, dedicated team” of teachers.

“I was drawn by the vision and the opportunity to work from scratch with the students,” he said.

“The vision and ethos for the school is a strong academic curriculum, with excellent, enriching pastoral care.”

A vocal campaign has been run against the school, with opponents calling it a waste of public money.

Students at the school are given a free uniform, free bus journeys from Beccles to Carlton Colville, a free hand-held mobile device for homework, and free lunches until Christmas.

Frank Joyce, secretary of Lowestoft Coalition against the Cuts, said: “The funding of this school by the Department for Education is a scandal.

“It is not wanted, it is not needed and can only do permanent damage to the education of children in Beccles, Lowestoft and the surrounding areas.

“It is an outrageous waste of public money when other schools and public services are facing cuts and closures.”

Others to speak out previously against the free school have been Mark Bee, the county councillor for Beccles, and Waveney MP Peter Aldous.

This continued last week as shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg claimed that £2m has been spent on the free school for Beccles, with at least £2.3m spent on free schools which are either not opening or lacking support

However, the government refuted the accusations, calling the figures “grossly exaggerated” while a spokesman for the Department for Education said that free schools were proving “overwhelmingly popular with parents” and that Beccles Free School was offering to “drive up standards and provide greater opportunity and choice for local parents and children”.

While this week the Seckford Foundation Free Schools Trust has been told that it cannot claim to be “outstanding” before it has even opened.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has told the Trust to remove the word from its adverts, following complaints from campaigner James Hargrave.

Mr Hargrave told the ASA that by presenting itself as “outstanding”, people could interpret that the school had been given the highest Ofsted rating, even though it has yet to be inspected.

For more on the story check back on the website later and see tomorrow’s papers.

55 comments

  • "SideshowBob" I think it *very* unwise to band around this year's GCSE results due to the significant issues with English. Are you really suggesting that Bungay High, Farlingay and St Benedicts are no longer good schools as they had the same issues. I think you meant to say the campaign against the school has been embarrassingly successful...

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    onlygeek

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • I don't recognise the situation you describe at all Rob. I think you are living in a fantasy-land you have created for yourself. Fewer than 15% of Year 10 and 11 students at SJLHS follow vocational courses and these children have to prove their interest, enthusiasm and suitability through interview as these courses are always heavily oversubscribed. No-one is "shoehorned" into an inappropriate vocational course! This provision is expensive but incredibly motivating for many young people living in our region. The Seckford Free Schools threaten the existence of the North Suffolk Skills Centre Partnership and, if the Centre is forced to close, choice and opportunity will be reduced for many of our children all because of the selfish, greedy few.

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    James

    Friday, September 7, 2012

  • The Charities Commission website information about Seckford's finances and appears to show an operating loss over several years. It was wrong for anyone to hold a demonstartion outside the school as it would be targetting the pupils, who are not the one's responsible for this project. The oppostion to this all along has been principally about the diversion of funds from State Schools to pay for this whimsy of Gove's...the figure has been suggested as at least £100 million. If it was "new" money from outside education that would put a different spin on matters. Given the very expensive teacherpupil ratio of about 6 to 1 we will be expecting a very high pass rate next Summer. If this was translated into every State school what a difference it would make to standards. I do find the fact that uniforms, lunches and hand-held devices are being provided free as something morally questionable.

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    Dogberry

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • "SideshowBob" I think it *very* unwise to band around this year's GCSE results due to the significant issues with English. Are you really suggesting that Bungay High, Farlingay and St Benedicts are no longer good schools as they had the same issues. I think you meant to say the campaign against the school has been embarrassingly successful...

    Report this comment

    onlygeek

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • I am a parent of a child who has started BFS. I must first express my dismay at the organised protest she faced on her first day at school. It has echoes of equally sick protests suffered by pupils at Holy Cross in northern Ireland. What has also struck me over the past few months is just how Miss informed people are on the state of education in and around the Lowestoft region. There is only one school that can honestly claim to deliver the goods (both academically and holistically) and that is Bungay. As Bungay was not an option, and If my daughter had not got into the Free School then I would have elected home education. Yes, that's how bad the remaining schools are. I can make this statement having worked in a number of them over the past few years. Going forward, we need the Free School to work. We need to offer a far better choice of education for our children. We need to challenge headmasters from under performing schools why their results are so bad and order them to stop using the Free School as a deflection from their own failings and blatant short comings. So God bless our Free School and all who serve and learn in it.

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    Robparent@BFS

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • Hmm, not quite sure what the head teacher's salary increase has toi do with it, but if he's overseeing excellent results, then why should that be an issue? As for two tier schools, yes many are better than the old three tier, but then many are a lot worse. In almost all league tables over the years, three tier schools, with one or two exceptions in Haverhill and Lowestoft, were bunched somewhere in the middle. As for Diss and Eye being richer, sorry I just can't go with that one. Have you seen the likes of Belllands WayOak Crescent in Eye? I doubt there's many streets in Beccles to compare less favourably. Similarly, the streets around Diss High School, such as Uplands Way are no better or worse than many of the local authority housing streets in Beccles. The new developments in Diss are similar to much of Worlingham. In fact, I'd say they're pretty much on a par with each other as far as wealth standards are concerned. No, SJL should be performing better against those schools. Not competing on a level par of course, but they shouldn't be somehere around 16% to 20% worse in terms of GCSE results.

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    SideshowBob

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • Where has this unfounded rumour about the Seckford Foundation's finances been widely reported

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    SideshowBob

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • Interesting. Robparent@BFS is basically saying that BFS is not an inclusive school as it is a "choice" for parents who feel their "children aren't vocational". Not sure children should be separated out in this way at 11 and many children like to study BOTH academic AND vocational subjects.

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    onlygeek

    Friday, September 7, 2012

  • jooz I don't think anyone plans any kind of protest now so the school will vey much be left to it. Your son has a right to go to school in peace and I am certain that will be respected. Our concern remains however that once the initial "pump" funding from the DfE dries up the school will start to run out of money. It certainly needs to attract more students to succeed. The next 2013 Y7 admissions will be crucial. It is just conjecture but if the school isn't viable before the planned move into Beccles Seckford might be forced to merge the two schools to one on the Saxmundham site. But the school is open now and I wish it and its pupils well.

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    onlygeek

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • Lazymum you speak wisely and from the heart.Sideshow Bob's comments re the questions about funding and Seckford's financial situation do sum up the woeful lack of transparency from Seckford throughout this process. They have continually refused to say how much funding they have received to set this school up...whether or not they have been funded for a full school or for the 68 pupils who are on roll;staff posts have been advertised and a reasonable estimate of all staffing costs including support staff would be about £500,000 per annum. Even if we accept the notional figure suggested of £350,000 coming into the school as suggested by SideshowBob, there is a major shortfall of income, and this will go on year after year being taken from the national education budget.There will also be annual material and maintenance costs. The set-up figure of £2 million being suggested includes converting and equipping the school, and I believe IS a realistic figure. If this Government was sincere in it's desire to drive up standards it would ensure that every child had the equivalent of a private education. Free Schools are morally wrong as they take from the many to give to the few...Reverse Robin Hood! I note that none of the supporters of the school have denied that there were very good inducements offered to them...something which the Free School has always tried to pretend wasn't going on! It would make more sense and would have been cheaper to use the "Govecash" to send these 68 pupils to one of the local successful private schools ( with transport provided) - even if the fees were £20,000 a year that would cost £1,360,000...plenty of change from two million there!

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    Dogberry

    Friday, September 7, 2012

  • Ah, I see the B&BJ is back to its normal Pravda-style service again. It seems ingo and others can post what they like in criticism of the free school, but my comments get hacked at the first line, despite providing a wealth of facts to refute the unfounded and potentially libellous insinuations in kendo's post.

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    SideshowBob

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • I have taken time to understand the views of local parents and by a huge margin they have supported Sir John Leman High School. I have visited SJLHS myself several times and I would not hesitate to send my own children there it is a good local school. Sure it isn't perfect and could be even better. And school's do NOT fail children who don't get 5 GCSE A-Cs (inc Maths and English). All schools (unless they are selective) will have children that just aren't going to achieve this however brilliant they are. Even the top schools in Suffolk have 30% leaving without. Are they "failing" them? What does concern me though is what such children will do in a Seckford school. With its "unashamedly academic" curriculum and no vocational subjects it runs the risk of failing such children by providing no suitable alternative. That or such children might just not attend at all. Maybe this is the plan. Such a school would get great headline A-C passes but would in a very real sense be failing children.

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    onlygeek

    Friday, September 7, 2012

  • Well I wasn't there. I saw some pictures of protesters (some labour and union types and a UKIP councillor) and I saw some stage-managed pictures of children used to promote the school. You could, I guess, criticise both. I have no idea why you imagine SJLHS has been in receipt of "thousands of pounds" of extra funding as an academy. It is a complete myth that Academies are funded any better than other schools - other than the lucky few like Hartismere that did get extra funds. If they got extra a year or so ago it has dried up now. If SJLHS did need a school to "kick its backside" what on earth makes you think the tiny BFS is going to do this? A school run by someone with a track record of success like ARK, Ormiston etc But your problem isn't that you didn't convince it's that you didn't convince the overwhelming majority of Beccles parents. Democracy can be a real pain at times....

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    onlygeek

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • Dogberry wrote: ' I note that none of those comenting on here with children at the school have denied that they were bribed with Freebies'. Ok ok ok, you're right Dog, our game is up - it was actually the free 2000 Nectar points we got for every child that swayed me. Obviously the quality of the teaching staff or wanting the best for my child had nothing to do with it. Sorry Dog, please try harder if you wish to insult informed, caring parents. Thankyou.

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    Robparent@BFS

    Tuesday, September 11, 2012

  • By the way, I'm still waiting for Graham White to substantiate his rumour (aka scaremongering) of unqualified teachers being employed by the Saxmundham and Beccles Free Schools, and which Kendo was also quick to repeat in the deleted post. Mr. White, the schools are now open, so it should be very easy to find out which teachers are qualified (they're the ones listed on the Seckford Foundation's free schools website) and which are not. So, I expect we'll be supplied with a list of the unqualified teachers fairly soon? I can hardly wait. :)

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    SideshowBob

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • Lazymum you speak wisely and from the heart.Sideshow Bob's comments re the questions about funding and Seckford's financial situation do sum up the woeful lack of transparency from Seckford throughout this process. They have continually refused to say how much funding they have received to set this school up...whether or not they have been funded for a full school or for the 68 pupils who are on roll;staff posts have been advertised and a reasonable estimate of all staffing costs including support staff would be about £500,000 per annum. Even if we accept the notional figure suggested of £350,000 coming into the school as suggested by SideshowBob, there is a major shortfall of income, and this will go on year after year being taken from the national education budget.There will also be annual material and maintenance costs. The set-up figure of £2 million being suggested includes converting and equipping the school, and I believe IS a realistic figure. If this Government was sincere in it's desire to drive up standards it would ensure that every child had the equivalent of a private education. Free Schools are morally wrong as they take from the many to give to the few...Reverse Robin Hood! I note that none of the supporters of the school have denied that there were very good inducements offered to them...something which the Free School has always tried to pretend wasn't going on! It would make more sense and would have been cheaper to use the "Govecash" to send these 68 pupils to one of the local successful private schools ( with transport provided) - even if the fees were £20,000 a year that would cost £1,360,000...plenty of change from two million there!

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    Dogberry

    Friday, September 7, 2012

  • Good luck and best wishes to the new Beccles Free School. The campaign against its opening has been embarrassingly hysterical at times, but its here to stay. Lets just hope the same fervour can be put into the existing local schools in an attempt to drive up the standards as Michael Gove and the DfE have stated. A-C grade pass rates of 50% are way behind the likes of Diss and Hartismere. This what really needs to be addressed.

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    SideshowBob

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • what good could those 2 million have done for the already capable and adequate schools that existed in Beccles?

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • Side show Bob I am afraid finding free school supporters in Beccles was a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack and strangely nobody wanted to talk.... As for your comments about Stradbroke High School it recruited 66 children this year into just Year 7 many more than Beccles Free School. It's always been a small well liked rural school. It could discontinue its excellent work with children with special educational needs and boost its statistics.. Thankfully most parents don't base decisions on league tables alone.

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    onlygeek

    Friday, September 7, 2012

  • SideshowBob. Eye is a really small town with only 1,700 population only a small minority of the children at Hartismere live in the town. You have probably identified the poorest place in the whole of the area and these are a handful of streets. Most of the children live in really leafy and affluent villages around the area. Beccles is a real town and is much more a mixed area in terms of socio-economic composition. To be honest SJLHS is not that disimilar from Hartismere and BFS is nothing like either of them! Hartismere's results have been on the up for longer than SJLHS and they also take children in Y7 not Y9. Encourage rather than berated SJLHS could and should perform better. The danger is BFS undermines that improvement.

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    onlygeek

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • I am a parent of a child who has started BFS. I must first express my dismay at the organised protest she faced on her first day at school. It has echoes of equally sick protests suffered by pupils at Holy Cross in northern Ireland. What has also struck me over the past few months is just how Miss informed people are on the state of education in and around the Lowestoft region. There is only one school that can honestly claim to deliver the goods (both academically and holistically) and that is Bungay. As Bungay was not an option, and If my daughter had not got into the Free School then I would have elected home education. Yes, that's how bad the remaining schools are. I can make this statement having worked in a number of them over the past few years. Going forward, we need the Free School to work. We need to offer a far better choice of education for our children. We need to challenge headmasters from under performing schools why their results are so bad and order them to stop using the Free School as a deflection from their own failings and blatant short comings. So God bless our Free School and all who serve and learn in it.

    Report this comment

    Robparent@BFS

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • I think enough is enough now and they should just let the school get on with it. My son had an excellent first day at Beccles Free School.

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    jooz0301

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • I do find it sad that people don't feel they can support their local good schools, I find this attitude really disrespectful to all the hard work that goes on by staff and pupils. The whole undercurrent around the setting up of Beccles free school has been a nasty drip, drip of misinformation of what goes on at local schools. The whole initial selling point of BFS as being "unashamedly academic" as if the other local schools aren't. This whole project from the start has set out to undermine our local schools. This school has gone ahead to please a tiny minority of parents against the wishes of the local community-of course people are annoyed. You can't expect any less. Your choice has a direct impact on the amount of money available to other local children some of whom need it more. If you weren't happy with local schools then go private- but don't expect other people to pay for your own sorry prejudices.

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    lazymum

    Friday, September 7, 2012

  • Were those "opponents" Mark Bee and Peter Aldous there joining the silent demonstration?

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    Dogberry

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • The point is that children at SJLHS have a lot of choice and can take (a) all academic subjects, (b) mainly academic with some vocational subjects or (c) mainly vocational with some academic subjects. Forcing children to decide at 11 (rather than 14) which route to go down is way too soon in my view. It is also unfair on SJLHS that it ends up with a disproportionate number of students studying vocational subjects - as BFS cannot take them - and not making the 5 A-C targets. Isn't choice a good thing?

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    onlygeek

    Friday, September 7, 2012

  • I am a parent of a child who has started BFS. I must first express my dismay at the organised protest she faced on her first day at school. It has echoes of equally sick protests suffered by pupils at Holy Cross in northern Ireland. What has also struck me over the past few months is just how Miss informed people are on the state of education in and around the Lowestoft region. There is only one school that can honestly claim to deliver the goods (both academically and holistically) and that is Bungay. As Bungay was not an option, and If my daughter had not got into the Free School then I would have elected home education. Yes, that's how bad the remaining schools are. I can make this statement having worked in a number of them over the past few years. Going forward, we need the Free School to work. We need to offer a far better choice of education for our children. We need to challenge headmasters from under performing schools why their results are so bad and order them to stop using the Free School as a deflection from their own failings and blatant short comings. So God bless our Free School and all who serve and learn in it.

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    Robparent@BFS

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • Regardless of the academic points for and against Free Schools, funding them is stealing from other schools.Are those a who support them in favour of taking this idea elswehere...how about a "Free" Hospital in Waveney with funds coming from the JPH budget, but only treating the first 68 people to "register" as patients? Or "Free" Emergency Services which only cover 68 homes? You'd get great service...well, the selfish one would...and that is what this is about...selfish greed of a minority who think they deserve better than the rest of us. Thatcherism is well and truly alive in Waveney...get what you can and sod everyone else!

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    Dogberry

    Friday, September 7, 2012

  • onlygeek - "I have taken time to understand the views of local parents and by a huge margin they have supported Sir John Leman High School." So, I hope your time was spent constructively by talking and understanding the needs and wishes of all sections of the community, although for some reason, I get the feeling that your 'community' only extends as far as those opposed to free schools. Of course your community is largely in favour of SJLHS, because that's your agenda and those are the members of the community you associate with. How many parents who decided to send their children to a free school have you encountered and listened to in that journey of understanding? Looking at your vehemently anti-free school blog, and its obvious lack of understanding regarding the operation of free schools and why some parents want to send their kids to them, I'd suggest it's somewhere beteween zero and 0.001. Robparent, you are absolutely spot on with your last couple of posts. Perfect responses from a parent who has taken the brave step of sending their child to a new, untried and untested school in the face of so much hysterical opposition. Of course, your observations will be completely disregarded by the 'anti' brigade as they don't match their own views, so it's not quite the 'understanding' they wish to learn from a member of the local commmunity. Oh well, I hope your child enjoys their experience at BFS, and excels at their studies. onlygeek, if you have so much time on your hands, and so much passion for local education, how about looking closer to home and start focusing more about the poor 50% A*-C pass rates and dwindling levels of school roll at Stradbroke High School. It seems they can do with someone with your drive to channel their efforts into a much more worthwhile direction to halt the slide in results and pupil numbers.

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    SideshowBob

    Friday, September 7, 2012

  • Excellent, ingo. A great commentary, which would be perfect if it didn't ignore just one basic fact. Kendo's insinuation over the Seckford Foundation's financial motives for involvement with free scholls were libellous, given that their latest accounts showed an improvement in net worth on the previous year. If heshe couldn't bother researching the relevant information before putting such unfounded speculation onto a web page, then the comment deserved to be deleted. Would you not agree?

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    SideshowBob

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • As for the Seckford Accounts yes they returned to profit last year after around 5 years making a loss mainly due to declining numbers at Woodbridge School. They did this by firing several teachers at Woodbridge. This also allowed them to put up the Headteachers salary by about 70K so he now earns £220K a year....

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    onlygeek

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • Side show Bob I am afraid finding free school supporters in Beccles was a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack and strangely nobody wanted to talk.... As for your comments about Stradbroke High School it recruited 66 children this year into just Year 7 many more than Beccles Free School. It's always been a small well liked rural school. It could discontinue its excellent work with children with special educational needs and boost its statistics.. Thankfully most parents don't base decisions on league tables alone.

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    onlygeek

    Friday, September 7, 2012

  • This plan is the pipe dream of less than the required 100 so it seems from the pupil numbers, an unwanted school with the same stigma attached to its pupils. This moral dogma led decision, imposed on Beccles, will not make for positive community relations at all.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • I would also like to say how disgusted I am that children should be subject to protestors outside their school. Intimidation of children, how low are these people going to stoop?

    Report this comment

    cat

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • Comic book characters, commenting on some perceived altruistic achievement which has yet to materialise, can come here and post accusations of libel, to shut people up and to make out that this school has widespread support. I think the ASA ruling speaks for itself; my best wishes to kendo- vs.- sideshowbob, do let us know if there'll be any tickets available.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • right, have kept quiet too long. I support BFS because I found the alternative ( existing) high school a disappointment. I am appalled at why SCC stand by and allow one of its own headteachers to post derogatory and defamatory remarks about other educational establishments on twitter etc. I am sorely tempted to stand outside SJLHS with my own placard- but recognise the need to put the young people first.

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    julie

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • As for the Seckford Accounts yes they returned to profit last year after around 5 years making a loss mainly due to declining numbers at Woodbridge School. They did this by firing several teachers at Woodbridge. This also allowed them to put up the Headteachers salary by about 70K so he now earns £220K a year....

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    onlygeek

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • Only geek writes: . 'Our concern remains however that once the initial "pump" funding from the DfE dries up the school will start to run out of money.' thank you for your concern but it's more doom and gloom scaremongering on a fantastic day for Suffolk education. Asides, I genuinely suggest you consider following The financial benefits SJLHS gained from academy status indeed, find out for us all why they became one in the first place. I also strongly suggest you make time to better understand the issues our local secondary schools are facing which made 68 brave parents decide enough is enough and support the Free School. In the meantime I welcome your comments that the BFS will be left alone now and hope that also includes your own efforts you appear to have pursued across other social media. I also hope to see a more balanced and constructively critical approach from you with our areas' secondary schools that are identified as failing up to 50% of their learners with GCSE targets. Fair's fair.

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    Robparent@BFS

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • I think the answer to your point lies in your use of the word 'essential' I believe the free school is being funded for 162 places for 62 children. How is that a sensible use of resources? A state of the art sixth form? you can't really be arguing against that in an area where we need to get more students going to university.

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    lazymum

    Saturday, September 8, 2012

  • Kendo, thatns for your reply. For what its worth,while I am a supporter of free schools, and in fact a parent who initially helped to establish such a school which has just opened, I actually share your concerns over the Seckford 'dynasty' in the local area. There are many education providers out there who could provide the expertise required to establish these schools (we met with a few, so I know they exist) yet every school in this area seems to have Seckford backing. In terms of economy of scale it will certainly prove to be a good thing for running costs, but like you, I'd be happier if just one or two of the schools in the area were backed by other trusts.

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    SideshowBob

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • Lazymum writes:’’ what does this mean-all local high schools offer a full range of academic and vocation courses-just because a school puts on classes to suit a whole range of children does not mean it isn't academic it means it is inclusive’’. If only this were true. Vocational subjects delivered off school premises (admittedly not just in Suffolk) are too frequently deemed only appropriate for learners with classroom issues. Fact. I would genuinely welcome unbiased research to show how many children ‘guided’ onto a vocational curriculum actually gain employment in their subject at 16. Those that are then able to enter Further Education College in 99100 cases then have to study Functional Skills to make up their horrendous shortfall in maths and English. I personally think this is majorly unfair on the colleges expecting them to address secondary school failings. The tax payer is essentially paying twice for the same subjects! Lazymum writes: ‘’ finally I'm not really sure what your final point is-are you glad that less able children will not attend BFS.’’ I am not familiar with the term ‘less-able’. I am also not aware of any reason why BFS (or any other school in our country) is allowed or unable to accept any child, irrespective of their learning needs. I also think to allude that the school is discriminating is inappropriate as you don’t know what statements or learning needs some of their children might already have. As for the financial argument against Free Schools, it is already accounted for in the public domain where it comes from! Although I appreciate conspiracy theories make better headlines. Onlygeek writes:’’ It is also unfair on SJLHS that it ends up with a disproportionate number of students studying vocational subjects - as BFS cannot take them’’. I cannot subscribe to this. SJLHS has practiced vocational curriculum for years, long before any FS. Maybe the BFS is a vote of no confidence in the continuation of this system. So yes, choice is a good thing in as much parents, who know their children best, can now elect to commit their child to a school which suits them best.

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    Robparent@BFS

    Friday, September 7, 2012

  • lazymum "ask Graham Newman portfolio holder for education in SCC he'll put you straight they had to bail out Pakefield high because Michael Gove gave the money to free school projects". Complete and utter rubbish, although it would suit Graham Newman's case if that's what he said. Pakefield High School was supposed to be funded by the Building Schools For The Future lunacy which Gordon Brown was overseeing with yet more billions and billions of pounds of borrowed money. The whole scheme was cancelled because it was an enormous borrowing exercise we simply couldn't afford. I wonder if Mr. Newman would give you a straight answer to the question of how much extra money Sufolk received from the Government this year to pay for capital projects. Don't bother asking him, because I'll tell you it was £33m. This was the money he used to 'bail out' the funding of the final stages of Pakefield, yep extra Goverment money, but Mr. Newman decided to throw his toys out the pram when he didn't get this additional money, plus the £12m from the Building Schools programme. The whole BSF programme was cancelled, so no money could have been diverted from it as (a) it no longer existed, and (b) we never had the money to fund the Building Scools programme in the first place.

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    SideshowBob

    Saturday, September 8, 2012

  • Only geek writes: . 'Our concern remains however that once the initial "pump" funding from the DfE dries up the school will start to run out of money.' thank you for your concern but it's more doom and gloom scaremongering on a fantastic day for Suffolk education. Asides, I genuinely suggest you consider following The financial benefits SJLHS gained from academy status indeed, find out for us all why they became one in the first place. I also strongly suggest you make time to better understand the issues our local secondary schools are facing which made 68 brave parents decide enough is enough and support the Free School. In the meantime I welcome your comments that the BFS will be left alone now and hope that also includes your own efforts you appear to have pursued across other social media. I also hope to see a more balanced and constructively critical approach from you with our areas' secondary schools that are identified as failing up to 50% of their learners with GCSE targets. Fair's fair.

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    Robparent@BFS

    Friday, September 7, 2012

  • Onlygeek:''I have campaigned against this free school but did not attend the silent protest''. Having spoken to my daughter, I can confirm the protester's actions were intimidatory with her experiencing brave protestors shoving their placards in her face. I wish I had forseen the possibility of the protesting heroes and been there to proudly walk into the school with her :) Your next quote:''Encourage rather than berated SJLHS could and should perform better. The danger is BFS undermines that improvement' candidly underlines the general ignorance on the state of education in Suffolk. How many more years must we give SJLHS? Indeed, it already has Academy status so has received enormous (AND I DO MEAN ENORMOUS) lumps of funding in the process. The central point to the BFS is schools that aren't good are now in danger of looking even worse as discerning parents realise there is a viable alternative and don't have to settle for second best. Incidently, it is interesting nobody challenges the Academy Golden Goodbyes they all get. Especially when one considers Kirkley is now run by a 'trust' with its hands on over 40, yes 40 schools. Finally, my daughter has loved her first day. The teachers, staff and general atmosphere have been great. And the protestors have already made her more determined to show them up for what they are: ill informed and rather pathetic . Roll on tomorrow!

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    Robparent@BFS

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • "classroom issues" ? what does this mean-all local high schools offer a full range of academic and vocation courses-just because a school puts on classes to suit a whole range of children does not mean it isn't academic it means it is inclusive. Funding impact -ask Graham Newman portfolio holder for education in SCC he'll put you straight they had to bail out Pakefield high because Michael Gove gave the money to free school projects. This means they had less money to spend on other services. Why is it that my son's special school only a mile away has a leaky roof when BFS gets 2 million pounds? Finally I'm not really sure what your final point is-are you glad that less able children will not attend BFS? As for choices I would choose for my son not to have his respite care cut, his speech therapy reduced and his access to vital equipment denied-all this has happened over the last few weeks because of budget cuts in the Health service and SCC-we obviously live in very different worlds

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    lazymum

    Friday, September 7, 2012

  • Lazymum writes:’’ The whole initial selling point of BFS as being "unashamedly academic" as if the other local schools aren't.’’ I do not know your experience and knowledge of education but you would undoubtedly discover many parents electing to send their children to the BFS didn’t want their children shoe horned into becoming vehicle mechanicshairdressersconstruction learners at 1314 years of age due to classroom issues. In other words, the teachers at BFS are committed to toughing it out in the academic arena in order to support the child having a wider range of options at 16. When you write: ‘’your choice has a direct impact on the amount of money available to other local children some of whom need it more.’’ Unfortunately there is no evidence to confirm your statement. Secondly, you are assuming that all the children attending the Free Schools don’t equally ‘need it.’ Thirdly, if a child is identified as SEN, statemented, etc, ANY school will be in receipt of additional funding to support them. Sadly, this doesn’t always happen detriment to reviews going back to the 1981 Warnock Report. Examples of this ongoing faux pas I have personally observed include numerous children entering GCSE years with undiagnosed dyslexia and dyscalculia. Finally, when you write:’’ don't expect other people to pay for your own sorry prejudices.’’ I am saddened by this reproach as I am unsure choosing to send my child to a school I believe meets their learning needs is prejudice. Also, I am a UK tax payer, many years at the highest rate so feel I have an entitlement and equal right to make choices as you also have. When onlygeek writes: ‘’With its "unashamedly academic" curriculum and no vocational subjects it runs the risk of failing such children by providing no suitable alternative. That or such children might just not attend at all. Maybe this is the plan. Such a school would get great headline A-C passes but would in a very real sense be failing children’’. Now a choice exists for those parents who feel their children aren’t ‘vocational’. Now they won’t be failing them. Inclusivity is celebrated, equality is finally in evidence and diversity of education exists. (ps apols for post repeated below!)

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    Robparent@BFS

    Friday, September 7, 2012

  • You are missing the point - the BSF funding commitment was withdrawn so that the central pot could pay out for Free Schools. I note that none of those comenting on here with children at the school have denied that they were bribed with Freebies...but then, it's a Free School! SideshowBob shows a very naive understanding of the way in which ALL governments have operated their finances since the National Debt was first introduced...they all borrow against future income...it's just a shame that successive governments have failed to recover the billions in avoided and evaded taxes over the years...now that really is theft!

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    Dogberry

    Saturday, September 8, 2012

  • So now the school is open I think it about time people found something else to slate and let the children enjoy being children and go to school without having to go through a line of protestors to get in.

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    cat

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • Cat, I'm very pleased to hear this reassurance.

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    Kendo

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • Dogberry, I don't know what figures are reported on the Charity Commision's website, but according to Experian, last year's accounts for The Seckford Foundation showed pre-tax profits of £800k, and a total net worth of £19.1m, up 4% on the previous year. These figures are in the public domain and can be verified. Yes, schools cost money to start up, but lets be honest here. Even if the cost of the start up was £2m, which has been bandied around, but it clearly wasn't, this money hasn't been diverted from Sir John Leman, as one of those protest placards suggests. Each pupil carries a premium which goes with them at whatever school they attend. So, 68 kids who, let's assume would have gone to SJL, but in reality may be a mix with those who would have gone to Pakefield, are worth around £350k to the existing schools. But then, if they'd gone to those existing schools, extra money would need to be spent to accommodate them. So, the notion that the free school has cost existing schools in the area £2m in revenue is just plain wrong.

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    SideshowBob

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • Don't shoot the messenger - I'm just passing on information that I have heard. Sideshow (and other readers) - I've just had a look at the Seckford accounts online - and must apologise to you, as their accounts do show a modest increase to year ending August 2011. On other aspects as to the rights or wrongs of this school, yes I agree that the education standards do need to be greatly improved in Suffolk (I didn't much like the way the recent SOR review was bulldozered though by the local authority) - though we will always, I suspect, disagree as to whether this is the right way to do it, as it is clear that you are a fervent supporter. I am uneasy with the diversion of much needed funds from other schools that are striving for improvement in our local area - effectively diverting funds for the many to pander to the few. The other questions in my original post do still need to be answered though - such as costs, and quality and experience of teaching staff. And... why Seckford wanted to open so many schools so quickly (I know some of them have been turned down), plus the their apparent arrogant attitude, as well as being rather economical with the truth at various public meetings! I have lived in Lowestoft all my life, and with the vast majority of decisions thrust upon us, you must understand my cynicism! Sideshow - on the issues of teacher quality, I hope for the sake of the children that they are of a decent standard.

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    Kendo

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • I have campaigned against this free school but did not attend the silent protest. For one thing I had to drop my own children off at school and for another I was concerned it would be hyped up as some kind of attack on children. Had the protestors intimidated or obstructed children or their parents I would be the first to condem them but they did not! I know something about the DissEte area as I actually live there. One of my children attends Hartismere and it is certainly a good school. One thing that helps it is that we have a two tier education system with no middle schools in this part of Suffolk with many high performing primary schools. The other reason is blindingly obvious. Eye and surrounding area is richer than Beccles. Yes I want to see Suffolk schools performing better but a tiny irrelevant free school that only opened due to Michael Gove's personal patronage is hardly going to help. For one thing it isn't exactly much "competition" to SJHS is it!

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    onlygeek

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • I wonder if the new head of Beccles Free School will be just as ready to give words of support and comfort to striking teachers as Jeremy Rowe of the Sir John Leman High School in on 30th June last year, or will he keep a proper professional distance by not sounding like just another Teaching Union Rep.

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    Rhombus

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • Lazymum - "Why is it that my son's special school only a mile away has a leaky roof when BFS gets 2 million pounds?" Well imagine what your son's special school could have done with a share of the 25million pounds spent in Lowestoft on a new sixth form college. Graham Newman and SCC could have built an adequate facilty for £5million but chose to seek funding from the government for a state of the art facility. So there are decisions being made all the time, both by government and local council that divert funds away from essential public services but I don't think you can single out the cost of Beccles Free School, that's a drop in the ocean compared to some of the other spending that's been agreed. 70 million pounds and counting for a suffolk school restructure that parent's didn't want seems a woeful allocation of resources, but if they didn't keep wasting our money they'd be out of a job, so don't expect them to stop anytime soon.

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    Moo Davis

    Friday, September 7, 2012

  • I know three of the teachers at Beccles Free School and I can assure you they are not only qualified but highly respected for their inspirational teaching methods.

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    cat

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • Robparent, I share your dismay at the thoughtless protesters who turned up at the school gates this morning. Do they really feel good about intimidating 11 to 13 year old kids going about their normal school day? Have a look at the picture of the protesters on the photo gallery attached to this report, and look at that placard. "Good Schools Guide...Sir John Leman, Bungay High, Pakefield High". Now look at their latest GCSE results. SJL, head triumphs 50% A-C pass rate as a major achievement. Bungay High, a drop of 13% in A-C pass grades since last year, down to just 52%. Pakefield, too new to have any GCSE results. So, the 'good schools' in the area will almost certainly fail to muster a top half placing in the Suffolk Schools league table between them this year. If anyone wants to know why we need the Free Schools, and the competition which will hopefully drive up the current woeful local standards, that placard says it all.

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    SideshowBob

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

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