At a cost of at least £2 million in public funds so far the Beccles Free School opened its doors in Carlton Colville today to 58 pupils - reportedly one year group having 7 children in it. With fewer pupils than even most of Suffolk’s small primary schools it manages to employ no less than 14 teachers (about one per four children) including both a Principal and a Headteacher.
A small silent protest was held by Lowestoft Against the Cuts at the opening - being careful not to disturb parents or children in anyway.
Spokeperson for the Coalition Frank Joyce told this Blog:
We held a small silent protest at the opening of the Beccles/Carlton Colville Free School today. This school is reported to have cost some £2m so far in consultants' fees, management costs, marketing and building work to convert the former Carlton Colville Primary School for use by the Seckford Foundation's Free School.
The school is claiming 58 students spread over three year groups with one class of only 7 students. At the same time nearby Pakefield High School was only able to open through a bail-out by Suffolk County Council after £7.5m for the build was cancelled by the government.
While money is being thrown at the Beccles/Carlton Free School Pakefield High School is still £1m short and Suffolk County Council is selling off its care homes in an attempt to balance the books. That is one of the costs of "choice".
It is now being reported that the Free School has applied to stay longer at the Carlton Colville site before the planned move to Beccles. This will frustrate even further local residents who had planned to use the ex-primary school for community purposes.
It seems the real reason the school opened today was to spite the protesters and Sir John Leman’s Headteacher Jeremy Rowe.
A very inauspicious start indeed for a school.