Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 13°C

min temp: 8°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Suffolk: Controversy as new Beccles and Saxmundham free schools set to be half full

09:00 01 August 2012

Rob Cawley, principal of the Seckford Foundation Trust

Rob Cawley, principal of the Seckford Foundation Trust


ONLY 168 pupils have so far signed up for two new Suffolk free schools set to open in a few weeks time - a little more than half the capacity for the sites.

The controversial schools in Beccles and Saxmundham are set to open with vast sums of money being provided by the government - between £4 and £5million.

Last month the Beccles Free School, which will be based in the short-term at the now closed Carlton Colville Primary School, hit the national headlines when it emerged that only 37 pupils had applied for places.

The Seckford Foundation Free Schools Trust, which runs the prestigious and private Woodbridge School and is behind both new projects, says that number is now up to 64.

The Saxmundham Free School has 104 pupils but both are currently well below the initial 300 projection and even the scaled-back student target of 162 set out in the application forms approved by the Department for Education last month, a figure used to calculate start-up costs.

Beccles Free School currently has 16 students signed-up for year seven, 24 students on the roll for year eight and 24 students enrolled for year nine, giving it a total of 64.

It is opening at the same time that Sir John Leman school in Lowestoft takes on 11 and 12-year-old pupils for the first time as part of Suffolk County Council’s school organisation review, which is seeing Suffolk shift to a completely two-tier education system.

Campaigners say it will have a negative impact on education in the area and divert much-needed funding away from Sir John Leman at a time of transition for the academy.

The free school will eventually be based at Beccles Middle School, which will be closed and the site redeveloped by 2014.

Saxmundham Free School currently has 26 students signed-up for year seven, 27 students enrolled for year eight and 51 students ready for year nine. This amounts to 104 overall.

Rob Cawley, principal of the Seckford Foundation Free Schools Trust, said both Beccles and Saxmundham sites had seen a “steady increase” in student numbers since being given the go-ahead and continued to accept applications.

Mr Cawley said: “Preparations for the start of term are well under way for both Saxmundham and Beccles Free Schools. The foundation is pleased with the continued rise in student numbers for both schools and is confident that more and more people will take up the freedom of choice in their child’s future education over the coming weeks.”

Suffolk already has one free school - the Stour valley Community School in Clare - and like Beccles and Saxmundham, the Breckland Free School at Brandon will open in September.

The Seckford Foundation’s plans for another free school in Stoke-by-Nayland were rejected, while a scheme for a free school based around the teachings of the Maharishi in Woodbridge were also refused funding by the government.

Graham White, county secretary of the Suffolk branch of the National Union of Teachers, said: “The idea of free schools sounds like a good idea - the problem is they are funded by the government at huge expense and they provide a narrow curriculum. They are essentially divisive because they take money and pupils away from the local schools.

“You look at the amount of money that was spent on the Stour Valley Community School - that was £5.3million and that was the set-up cost and free schools are funded on potential roll, rather than the actual roll.

“The government is not putting any money into education but it’s putting it into free schools and academies, which are for such a small minority of pupils.

“There is no shortage of places and there is no need for a free school. There is no need in Suffolk.”

Related articles

1 comment

  • You really are so predictable ! You will never print anything which slags off the Tories !! You really are just a Tory 'controlled' rag !!

    Report this comment


    Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Suffolk Lowland Search and Rescue team search for Corrie McKeague just outside Troston Slades Covert. Photo Mark Westley

Suffolk police officers are attempting to trace a group seen talking to Corrie McKeague at a pizza takeaway on the night of his disappearance.

Archie Joe Darby and Daniel-Jay Darby. Archie, four months, was killed and Daniel-Jay was seriously injured after being bitten by a dog at their Colchester home.

A four-month-old baby was snatched from his mother’s arms by the family dog and mauled to death, an inquest has heard.

Police were called to the crash

A man in his 30s is in hospital with serious injuries after a crash Stowmarket last night.

Ron Harris outside the first home he shared with his wife, Nina, at Shingle Street before the Second World War. Photo supplied for Life on the Edge by the Harris family.

It’s a place with tragedy and mystery in its past – but as many stories of resilient determination to build a community amid its wild and isolated environment.

Corrie McKeague's last ever sighting at 3.24am September 24 2016. CCTV still from Brentgovel Street, Bury St Edmunds. The building in the background is the edge of Cornhill Walk Shopping Centre

A video of the last ever sighting of Corrie McKeague has been released, as four weeks pass with no new leads.

Police are investigating the incident. Stock photo

Police are investigating a fight outside a licensed store in Lowestoft in which a member of the public was injured.

The incident happened near the Orwell Bridge. File photo

Traffic delays on the A14 near the Orwell Bridge in Ipswich have been caused by a crash involving a lorry and a car.

Most read

Great Days Out


Click here to view
the Great Days Out


Most commented


Show Job Lists

Don't miss


Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

MyDate24 MyPhotos24