Beccles Free School rapped over ‘outstanding’ claim in advert

THE organisation behind the new Beccles Free School has been rapped over the knuckles and told it cannot claim to be 'outstanding' before it has even opened.

The Seckford Foundation Free Schools Trust has been contacted by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after it released promotional material in which new Beccles Free School head John Lucas claimed it was an 'outstanding school' at the heart of the community.

The ASA was contacted by campaigner and political blogger James Hargrave about the adverts and has now written to the trust telling it not to use the term.

Mr Hargrave told the ASA that by presenting itself as 'outstanding', people could interpret that the school had been given the highest Ofsted rating. However, with the school only opening its doors to students today, there is no way it could have been given any verdict by inspectors.

In a letter, the ASA said: 'With a view to acting quickly, we have instructed the advertisers to change the ad. We have asked them to remove the word 'outstanding' from the ad.'

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A spokesman for the ASA confirmed the case was ongoing and the adverts were being assessed.

Last night, the Seckford Foundation Free Schools Trust, supported by the Seckford Foundation, which runs the prestigious Woodbridge School, declined to comment.

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The Beccles Free School – which will be based at Carlton Colville until 2014 – and its sister school at Saxmundham are both opening this week after receiving significant amounts of funding from the Department for Education.

The Beccles school has 68 pupils registered and the Saxmundham school has 104 – both well below their initial targets.

Graham White, branch secretary of the Suffolk NUT, said it was 'disgusting' that taxpayers' money had been wasted on funding the projects and the adverts.

He said: 'I'm quite disgusted by the Seckford Foundation Free Schools Trust, to put out information like that. They are very well aware what 'outstanding' means. It's yet another example of wasting taxpayers' money.

'If the Seckford Foundation wants to set up another independent school then they are quite free to do that – there's nothing wrong with competition. But they should be funding it, not using taxpayers' money.'

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