National Union of Teachers single out Beccles Free School bid

A bid to create a free school for Beccles has been singled out by the National Union of Teachers as an example of how the government's educational plan will negatively impact on existing schools.

A report by the NUT, entitled Free Schools: A Cause for Concern, said that many proposed free schools will hit good or outstanding local schools, highlighting headteacher Jeremy Rowe's claim that the Beccles Free School would cost the Sir John Leman High School in Beccles �1 million.

It came as the NUT revealed that is could take legal action against education secretary Michael Gove's refusal to release information on the impact free schools will have on other nearby schools.

The union said it was in the public interest for this information to be in the public domain.

NUT deputy general secretary Kevin Courtney said: 'What we are talking about is the impact that free schools have on other schools, that we think are damaging to education for children in the system.'

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The union said it had requested, under the Freedom of Information Act, copies of 'impact assessments' that the minister is required to make when considering an application for a new free school, but that the bid had been declined.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: 'Many of the first free schools were set up by talented heads and teachers with years of experience in state schools. These professionals listened to what parents had to say and responded with more local choice for children. As a result, the vast majority of Free Schools are oversubscribed. It is disappointing that the work of these teachers is being overlooked by the NUT.'

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A final decision from the government on plans by the Seckford Foundation to establish a Beccles Free School is expected soon.

The Woodbridge-based charity insists its proposals were drawn up in response to a genuine demand from parents in the Beccles area and says its new school would increase choice for pupils.

If approved, the high school would open in September on the site of Carlton Colville Primary School before moving to the site of Beccles Middle School in 2014.

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