Along with providing more choice, the department believes that this school will offer a strong and inclusive secondary education – in a county where education standards have generally been below the national average for a number of years.Whilst this statement about educational attainment is “true” there are two significant issues with this. Firstly a County average is completely irrelevant in a decision about a local school. What matters is the local situation. These aren’t London Boroughs. Suffolk is a large county where it can take an hour and a half to get from one place to another! So the performance of a school in say Felixstowe is meaningless to Beccles.
This graph shows the results of Sir John Leman:
As you can see the school is broadly inline with the national average and this is despite the fact that it is in a three tier area with Middle Schools where result is Suffolk are generally worse.
Which brings us to the second major issue. The School reorganisation review in Sufffolk is designed to improve attainment and is taking place in Beccles this year. This is not mentioned and it does not appear the DfE considered this. I actually wonder if they even know...
Bob Blizzard, prospective Labour Waveney candidate and former Waveney MP has spoken out against the free school saying it was:
a scandalous waste of public moneyIf the DfE and Seckford Foundation thought that this issue was now going to quietly go away they could not be more wrong. Local campaigners have vowed to continue the fight and there is increasing national interest in the decision since the publication of the consultation report that showed feeble demand for the school.
In 20 years of public life I have never seen millions spent on such a fragile and feeble project.They had only 21 parents express an interest, but there was a petition with thousands of names presented by the head of Sir John Leman that did not figure at all.
It’s clear to me this was a decision made for national political reasons rather than to meet any kind of local demand or need.