Advertising Standards Authority upholds complaint against free school trust

PUBLISHED: 10:03 12 January 2013 | UPDATED: 11:13 15 January 2013

Beccles Free School at Carlton Colville.

Beccles Free School at Carlton Colville.

(C) James Bass 2012

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint against the organisation behind Beccles Free School.

A complaint against The Seckford Foundation Free Schools Trust has been upheld and they have been warned not to make exaggerated claims as to the extent of their headteacher’s previous roles and the outcome of an Ofsted pre-registration inspection.

The Trust, which runs the school in Carlton Colville, has previously been told it could not claim to be “outstanding” by the ASA before it had even opened.

The complaint, from Suffolk Coalition Opposing Free Schools, relates to a leaflet for Beccles Free School which said heateacher John Lucas was “a former inspector and director of learning for Cambridgeshire”, and said “our Ofsted pre-opening inspection has taken place and we passed with flying colours”.

Mr Lucas had been a director of learning for 14- to 19-year-olds at a school in Cambridgeshire and spent three years as a general inspector with the Cambridgeshire Standards and Effectiveness team, and the Trust said the wording had intended to indicate the breadth of his experience.

However, the ASA considered it was an exaggerated claim and therefore misleading.

The complaint regarding the Ofsted claim was upheld as the inspection did not include checks on the proposed curriculum or expected educational standards of the school, and “passed with flying colours” exaggerated the judging which was either “likely to meet” or “not likely to meet” a variety of criteria.

The ASA ruled that the advert must not appear again in that form.

A spokesman for the Seckford Foundation Free Schools Trust said: “We have received the response from the ASA and will make the necessary changes to our literature.

“We are pleased that despite the long programme of opposition to the Beccles Free School the numbers continue to grow and this term we have 111 on our school roll.”

The school opened in September, despite a campaign against it, with a register of 68 pupils in years 7, 8 and 9.

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