It was a bit like watching the Murdochs before the Select Committee and Watson seemed to adopt the same “plausible deniability” strategy claiming to be unable to answer almost all of the difficult questions asked.
- He didn’t know how much it was costing to convert Carlton Coalville Primary School because the DfE dealt with that but it was just new toilets and “knocking a few walls down”.
- He didn’t know how many teachers they had appointed despite the fact that down the road in Beccles 14 of them were being paraded in front of a parents meeting literally as he spoke.
- The Finances of the Seckford Foundation were “complicated” and they had made a “book loss”. Woodbridge School was “thriving" (despite the “complicated” accounts revealing that numbers had dropped year on year and staff were made redundant to balance the books).
- He did not have the impact assessment on other schools because the DfE did that.
- He did however confirm the earlier news that only 37 children had accepted places at the school. 37 across Years 7, 8 and 9
- When questioned on the “inducements” he claimed the free uniforms, iPod and lunches were not inducements as you did not get them before agreement to send your children there. This definition of inducement seems to be unique to Seckford.
The manner of Watson’s departure says it all though. Leaving by a back exit to the Town Hall he was whisked into a waiting Mercedes that then sped off.
They could even try again for a free school once the Middle School site was free in 2014.
Wise words from Goldson who later said free schools did not work in rural areas and that Seckford were clearly in this to make money.
Watson should take his advice. A High School with 37 children is not viable and the whole project is going to collapse at some point. After betting the Seckford farm on the project the next thing Watson would be planning is his own exit strategy. Out of the Seckford Foundation.