The Seckford "Chain": Saxmundham Free School

The Saxmundham Free School was the first school to get the backing of the Seckford Foundation when they took over the bid started by the "Fromus Valley Educational Trust". I didn't think much of the bid at the time. Saxmundham is actually not far from Woodbridge and it did not seem that strange that Seckford were involved. The bid clearly has local support from a good number of people in Saxmundham itself although it was competing for the (you guessed it) former Middle School site with the Saxmundham and District Community Interest Company who had plans to create quite an innovative Community Enterprise Centre complete with Library, Cafe, a small Theatre, offices and a community radio station, you can see a proposed plan below:
Click to enlarge
But Leiston High School will see the biggest impact from any new secondary school in Saxmundham. Leiston High who are changing their name to "Alde Valley Community School". This prompted Leiston's Chair of Governors to tell the EADT:
There is simply no need for additional school places in the area. An extra school would create a further surplus of school places. That would be wasteful and extravagant, particularly at a time of public expenditure cuts undermining existing provision for other local students. 
Our school and the other existing secondary schools in the area already have more than enough capacity for all students from Saxmundham.
But some supporters of the school from Saxmundham don't welcome the intervention of people in Leiston.  Before the group was deleted (see below) one parent wrote on the free school's unofficial Facebook page :

This poster seems to be unable to appreciate that her "gain" might be someone in Leiston's "loss" and the "Ebacc" was not even dreamed up when last year's student chose their GCSE options. At Lesiton only 19% of children took all of the EBacc subjects which might explain an 8% pass rate.

Again we are seeing a tendency for a divisive even in this case a "beggar thy neighbour" approach where some people just don't seem to care about the impact of a decision on others so long as they do well from it.

Not everyone is convinced though and one poster took exception to the two high salary posts that of Principal and Headteacher that Seckford have recently advertised:

Simon Eyre one of the "unofficial" parents group members is, I think, mistaken as the money to pay the Principal is coming from all of the schools revenue budgets as I understand it. So to start with Saxmundham will pay at least half and that is only if Beccles goes ahead. Ford seems to imply that loss making Seckford will pay for the Principal from its own funds. The application pack makes it clear the posts are conditional on the DfE signing the funding agreements for the schools. It would seem to be this paying for the senior staff.

When I pressed this point in discussion on the Facebook Group Simon Eyre deleted one of my posts and then told me to ask Seckford. He suggested it was inappropriate to discuss the funding of the school in public despite the fact that this is a publically funded school!

I sent this letter that you can see on Wikisuffolk and within a few hours the Facebook group was removed completely!
This kind of closing down of all debate seems to be typical across all of the free school parent groups. They do not appear to think they need to engage with the wider community and have any concept that they are accountable to anyone.

There is one difference to Beccles here. Like Ixworth and Stoke by Nayland there is an active parent group but there appears to be a lack of any co-ordinated opposition in Saxmundham unlike the other areas.

This is my view of the relative support and opposition to the Seckford bids:

Seems small. Parent group not very active. One member of original four disowned by Seckford
Sir John Leman High School and its Headteacher
Lots of local parents and others in Beccles, large petition and letters to papers
Some in Carlton Coleville
Peter Aldous MP is “sat on fence” but Cllr Mark Bee has signed petition against
Strong support in Ixworth from parents,  majority in Stanton. Strongest support current middle school parents, less strong from current primary parents.
Active Parent Group.
Ixworth Middle School and its Headteacher and Governors.
Matthew Hancock MP and Cllr Joanna Spicer
Opposition in Beyton from parents as free school might close proposed Beyton Annexe of Thurston Community College
Thurston Partnership are formally neutral but some involved are not convinced by Free School
Seckford involvement new and unclear on impact
Active local parent group with parental support
Therese Coffey MP
Leiston High School
Some local parents
Stoke by Nayland
Active local parent group with parental support, some evidence more support since Seckford involvement
Active local parent group with parental support, successfully opposed previous bid

Stoke by Nayland Free School 4141376916911159032

Home item

New Blog

This is my old blog, new posts can be found at

Blog Archive