Beccles Free School: Just who is making "misleading" claims?

In a letter sent to parents in the Beccles area -  a full copy can be seen on Wikisuffolk - Rob Cawley the Principal of the Seckford Free Schools Trust says:
Unfortunately there has been a great deal of misinformation put into the public domain
Cawley goes even further in an email message:
During this meeting however, I was dismayed to hear of the level of misinformation there is the community about the Free School. As a Trust, we have deliberately avoided getting involved in any direct discussions with those who are distributing this propaganda as we believe our educational message stands strongly on its own merits
This seems a clear reference to information produced by the successful campaign against the school. Cawley does not say what this misinformation is but does enclose a leaflet with information about the school.

Unfortunately the attached information itself actually very misleading. But don’t just take my word for it here is some evidence!

Claim 1: “Refurbishment at Carlton Colville is well underway with new science laboratories, additional classrooms, books and materials."

This claim isn’t so much misleading as completely untrue. You can see below some photographs taken today at the school that show no apparent work at all has happened. Apparently someone has stolen lead from the roof of the school and there has been a small fire but no renovations.

Full Size Images and a few more photos at Wikisuffolk

Interestingly Graham Watson told Waveney District Council’s Scrutiny Committee that very little work needed to be done. New toilets and “knocking a few walls down” was what he said as he tried to convince the Committee it would not be a large expense.

Claim 2: “As a former inspector and Director of Learning for Cambridgeshire the Headteacher appointed to lead Beccles Free School is highly experienced and qualified"

In fact the new Head was Director of Learning at a single school in Cambridgeshire. This is the worst performing school in the whole County where only 19% of children achieve 5 Grade A-Cs at GCSE including Maths and English.

The constant attacks by Seckford on Sir John Leman and Leiston Schools suggesting their results are unacceptable and below the national average seem incredibly ironic given this fact that Seckford have kept very quiet indeed.

Claim 3: “A huge range of sporting, musical, enterprise and artistic opportunities will be available for children" 

With no sports field other than a tiny outdoor play area and hardly any children these claims appear very unlikely and Cawley himself has admitted previously that the same range of exra-curricular activities that are available elsewhere cannot be expected at such a small school.

Claim 4: “The Seckford Foundation have a long track record of providing excellent education"

The Seckford Foundation have only ever run a single school. They have never run a state school. never run a non-selective all ability school. At their last inspection Woodbridge did not have a single child with a statement of special educational needs.

So whilst the Seckford Foundation do indeed have a long record it is not a relevant track record and it only relates to one school.

Claim 5: “Students will study qualifications that are preferred by employers and Universities"

About 60% of pupils will not go to University or other tertiary education. Universities are mainly concerned in any case with A Level Results not GCSEs.

It is impossible to make a statement about what “employers” prefer as it depends completely on the employer and the job.

When I visited the Ormiston Victory Academy recently I was shown round the beauty salon. The students there studied for vocational qualifications that had actually already meant they had found employment. For that work this was the qualification needed and getting it meant they had a job to go to.

This statement is an attempt to sell a disadvantage (not offering any vocational qualifications) as if it was an advantage.


I must say I am extremely unhappy that local schools have distributed this material from Seckford. As you can see above it is misleading. It is also wrong in my view for schools to circulate claims from Seckford accusing other people of circulating “misleading” information when there is not a shred of evidence for this claim.

How convenient that Cawley has "deliberately avoided getting involved in any direct discussions with those who are distributing this propaganda”. He has avoided it because he knows that he’s wrong.

If Seckford think that others are making misleading claims they need to prove it. So far they had not even said what claims they allege to be misleading.

As things stand it appears that it is true that misleading propaganda has been put into the public domain. By the Seckford Foundation Free Schools Trust.
Seckford Foundation 3902480593404163327

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