Suffolk: New Beccles Free School rapped for using ‘outstanding’ in advertising material

THE organisation behind a new Suffolk free school has been rapped on the knuckles and told it cannot claim to be “outstanding” before it has even opened.

The Seckford Foundation Free Schools Trust has been contacted by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after it released promotional material in which new Beccles Free School head John Lucas claimed it was an “outstanding school” at the heart of the community.

The ASA was contacted by campaigner and political blogger James Hargrave about the adverts and has now written to the trust telling it not to use the term.

Mr Hargrave told the ASA that by presenting itself as “outstanding”, people could interpret that the school had been given the highest Ofsted rating.

However, with the school only opening its doors to students today, there is no way it could have been given any sort of verdict by inspectors.


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In a letter, the ASA said: “With a view to acting quickly, we have instructed the advertisers to change the ad. We have asked them to remove the word ‘outstanding’ from the ad.”

A spokesman for the ASA confirmed the case was ongoing and the adverts were being assessed.

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Last night the Seckford Foundation Free Schools Trust, supported by the Seckford Foundation, which runs the prestigious Woodbridge School, declined to comment.

Both the Beccles and Saxmundham Free Schools are opening this week and have been given significant amounts of funding from the Department for Education.

The Beccles site has 68 pupils registered and the Saxmundham school has 104 - both well below the initial targets.

Graham White, branch secretary of the Suffolk NUT, said it was “disgusting” that tax-payers’ money had been wasted on funding the projects and the adverts.

He said: “I’m quite disgusted by the Seckford Foundation Free Schools Trust, to put out information like that. They are very well aware what ‘outstanding’ means. It’s yet another example of wasting tax-payers’ money.

“If the Seckford Foundation wants to set up another independent school then they are quite free to do that - there’s nothing wrong with competition. But they should be funding it, not using tax-payers’ money.”

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