Updated: Anger as former independent adjudicator appointed by group behind Beccles Free School bid

The independent adjudicator who led a public consultation meeting into a bid for a free school in Beccles has been hired by the foundation behind it.

Rob Cawley led a meeting in January into the bid and yesterday The Seckford Foundation announced his appointment as principal designate for their Free Schools Trust.

The move has led campaigners against the bid to say the appointment had made a mockery of the whole consultation process.

Ian Goodyer, from Worlingham, said: 'I find it quite shocking that someone at a public meeting who is presented as an independent adjudicator is now being given a very senior position at the Seckford Foundation.'

Mr Cawley was appointed as an independent adjudicator for the consultation meeting by Cambridge Education, the team employed by the Department for Education to analyse if the bid was viable. He also led a meeting about the foundation's proposed free school bid for Saxmundham.

Now, less than three months later, he has been appointed to oversee The Seckford Foundation's free school bids in Beccles and Saxmundham.

A spokesman for Cambridge Education said that they were not aware of his intention to apply for the job until after he had chaired the two public meetings.

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Mr Cawley was previously the executive head teacher of Deben and Orwell High Schools, including Felixstowe Sixth Form, in Suffolk, until August last year.

He said: 'I am delighted to take on this new role with the Seckford Foundation Free Schools Trust which is working on proposals to provide a number of Free Schools in the Eastern region.

'The Trust has an inspirational vision for Free Schools at the heart of communities increasing choice for parents and raising the aspirations and achievements of students.'

Graham Watson, director of the Seckford Foundation said: 'If the funding agreements for Beccles and Saxmundham schools are signed, then he would be dealing with the set up and delivery of both new schools for the local communities.'

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

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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