Seckford admit financial advantage from free schools to Woodbridge School

Graham Watson
Graham Watson, Director of the Seckford Foundation gave a presentation at a meeting in London last month hosted by education consultants MTM Consulting and solicitors Veale Wasbrough Vizards. Readers of this Blog may remember that MTM Consulting is an outfit run from Southwold by Melanie Tucker  who was one of the four original proposers of the Beccles Free School.

Melanie Tucker
During this conference entitled practical strategies for recovery Watson was one of four people to give a presentation called Strength in Numbers about groups of schools. This is reported on the Veale Wizards website where Watson is quoted as saying:
For Woodbridge School there will be medium and long term financial advantages that flow from the economies of scale of the Foundation operating three schools instead of one
This is the first admission I have seen that as many suspected Seckford received a financial advantage from operating the free schools.

The possible advantages are explained in more detail:
for example there will be joint purchasing which they hope will drive down costs. There is also the opportunity to bring in expertise which the schools could not bring in on their own. For example there are already plans to recruit a Director of Strategic IT. It is anticipated that staff will benefit from opportunities to bring teachers together.  
It is worth remembering which way round this benefit is being described. Watson describes advantages to Woodbridge not to the free schools. When the Government announced that it wanted to encourage independent schools to operate free schools and academies one of the reasons was supposed to be so the free schools could benefit from the expertise of the independent school.

What appears to have happened is that it is the private school that benefits as I predicted in my February post Free School Project to “rescue" private education?

Seckford have consistently denied a financial benefit when questioned claiming the venture is “charitable” and that they are motivated by a desire to improve education in Suffolk but when Watson has an audience of fellow independent school leaders he seems to be telling them quite a different tale...
Woodbridge School 6197092251843171972

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