Update: Beccles Free School proposes opening in Carlton Colville

The foundation behind a move to create a free school in Beccles has announced that it now plans to open in Carlton Colville for its first two years.

The surprise proposal was posted on Beccles Free School's website as a public consultation meeting on the issue was announced.

The Seckford Foundation, the group behind the bid, is proposing that the new high school initially welcomes Years 7, 8 and 9 on the site of the current Carlton Colville Primary School in September. Students would then move to the site of Beccles Middle School in September 2014, with the admissions rising from up to 54 students per year group to up to 108.

Graham Watson, director of the Seckford Foundation, which runs Woodbridge School, called it a big step forward.

He said: 'We have an opportunity to provide an exciting new type of school for the young people of Beccles...and our parental support surveys have indicated there is a clear demand.'

However, the announcement led Sir John Leman High School headteacher Jeremy Rowe to say that the level of interest showed that the town had said 'no' to the free school. 'I am relieved and have pride in the community that they had the confidence and courage and foresight to say 'no thanks'...' he added.

Waveney MP Peter Aldous said the potential impact of the free school on existing schools had to be carefully assessed and he encouraged people to make their views clear.

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Bob Blizzard, Labour prospective parliamentary candidate for Waveney, branded the proposed temporary move to Carlton Colville as a 'scandalous waste of money'. He said: 'I've said before that Beccles Free School is not wanted and not needed.'

The proposal will open the way for Sir John Leman High School to use the current site of Beccles Middle School to accommodate a forthcoming increase in pupils until September 2014. The middle school is due to close in the summer while Carlton Colville Primary School is moving to the site of Gisleham Middle School as part of Suffolk County Council's reorganisation of schools. A council spokesman said the decision on whether the primary school could be used was in the hands of the secretary of state.

A public meeting will take place at Hungate Church Hall, in Beccles, on Tuesday, January 24, at 7pm.

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