Revealed: Beccles Free School Consultation failed to record public views and was paid for by DfE

More information has emerged about the Beccles Free School consultation conduced by Cambridge Education. After a considerable amount of prompting Cambridge Education have admitted that they failed to make notes of verbal comments at their consultation meetings. In an email exchange sent to this Blog they state:
I can confirm that the team did not make contemporaneous notes of verbal contributions. They have provided an overall summary of the views from the drop-in events within a separate section of the report to the Secretary of State.
And in a further twist it emerged that the consultation and recruitment exercises are being paid for not by the Seckford Foundation who are proposing the schools but out of public funds provided direct by the DfE:
Cambridge Education has no business relationship with the Seckford Foundation. We are engaged by the DfE to provide additional capacity and support during the feasibility study. In this particular case that has also included supporting the administration of the Principal recruitment process.
So the consultation exercise that so many have been unhappy with failed to even note down the views of the people actually paying for it.

Cambridge Education have a clear interest in the Beccles Free School proposal going ahead as are likely to continue to get more work as project managers. They can hardly be relied upon to create an impartial "summary" of public views.

So far this does not appear to have cost the Seckford Foundation anything other than some of their time and at this stage it would not amaze me if they attempted to claim money for that from the DfE. Public money has paid for the consultation, the recruitment of a Principal and two Heads and will pay for their salaries.

But despite being funded by the public neither Seckford nor Cambridge Education have responded in any kind of an accountable way to legitimate questions and requests for information. Extracting the information above was like getting blood out of a stone and required local residents to keep going despite having their emails ignored or one line answers provided.

Once the school is setup it will have to respond to freedom of information requests like any public body but during this start up phase despite the public funding it does not.

Indeed the actual consultation report itself does not have to be made public and so far the Seckford Foundation have failed to answer emails asking if they will publish the document. This report is what the DfE will use to make the decision and unless it is made public a decision could easily be made using flawed information.
Seckford Foundation 2390654905471155382

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