Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 16°C

min temp: 12°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Beccles: Aide raps free school cynics

08:00 03 January 2013

Beccles Free School

Beccles Free School

(C) James Bass 2012

A GOVERNMENT adviser has launched a broadside against free school protesters, claiming local opposition campaigns had an adverse affect on admission numbers.

shares

Henry de Zoete, special adviser to the education secretary, said enrolment had increased at Beccles Free School in spite of local scepticism surrounding its opening in September.

He also called for the shadow education secretary to “come clean” and say whether the opposition would now support free schools.

But Graham White, Suffolk’s secretary for the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and an outspoken critic of free schools, maintained that admission remained inadequate and labelled the entire system “unnecessary”.

The debate resurfaced following news that Beccles Free School now has 102 pupils on the register - a near threefold increase from the 37 applications made following the school’s approval, and a 50% rise in the number of pupils that started term in September.

Mr de Zoete said Labour had attacked the government for investing in free schools. He added: “Stephen Twigg and Labour now have to come clean with the parents and children at Beccles Free School and say whether they will shut the school down or not.”

But NUT secretary Mr White pointing out that the school is still short of filling its 162 pupil capacity. He added: “I’m no statistician but I see that figure as fairly appalling.

“We are absolutely diametrically opposed to free schools and see no reason for them to exist.

“There is no need to turn existing sites into free schools or to build new ones. Local authority schools are being closed down and given away. We would hope they are closed down.

“If people want to set up and independent school, they should find the money and run it as a business.”

Under-Secretary of State for Schools, Lord Hill of Oareford, said numbers had climbed steadily at the school, which will be based in Carton Colville for two years before moving to the former Beccles Middle School next September.

Graham Watson, director of The Seckford Foundation, which backed the establishment of the school, said: “Beccles Free School was certainly subject to a great deal of negative publicity, but we were determined to open the school as we knew from talking to parents in the area they were looking for opportunity and choice for their children.

Mr Watson added that large numbers of prospective pupils and parents attended a recent open evening to find out about places at the school for September this year.

shares

0 comments

Motorists experienced delays on the A14 (file pic).

Traffic on the A14 near Ipswich has returned to normal following a two-vehicle crash earlier this morning.

Suffolk County Council headquarters; Endeavour House, Ipswich.

How Suffolk schools are rated by local education chiefs is being kept secret – because they say releasing the information is “not in the public interest”.

David Lloyd Leisure Ltd, Ipswich

A court has heard how a noxious substance released into a swimming pool happened while staff were trying to restart its pumps.

Some of the floral tributes left by the community

A Suffolk businessman who murdered his estranged wife with an axe before jumping to his death from a town centre car park was treated at a mental health unit the week before the tragedy, an inquest has heard.

Kitchen fire is extinguished in Lowestoft.

Fire crews from Lowestoft have extinguished a kitchen blaze.

Arrests made over shop ram raid.

Two men have been arrested in connection with a ram raid at a convenience store in Ipswich last Thursday.

Two men arrested over filling station burglary in Ipswich.

Two men have been arrested in connection with the burglary of a petrol station on the Chantry estate in Ipswich.

A 24-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the stabbing of two people in Leiston earleir this year.

A fifth person has been arrested in connection with the stabbing of a man and a teenage boy in Leiston in April.

Police are investigating the incident

Police are investigating a burglary at a garden centre in Sturmer, Essex.

Robbie Warner

A day held in memory of a 19-year-old from Suffolk who died while at university has raised more than £5,000.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages