"Hand of Hancock" as Seckford gets Third free school at Ixworth

If the lack of a transparent process at the DfE wasn't enough on its own to raise an eyebrow about the award today of the Ixworth Middle school site to the Seckford Foundation then local MP now Education Minister Matthew Hancock's comments in the EADT strongly suggested his influence was at least in part behind today's decision.

Hancock boasted in the EADT article that:
“I have always pushed to replace the closing middle school in the village and as well as campaigning for a replacement locally I have raised the issue with the education secretary Michael Gove. 
“My focus has always been on ensuring that the best possible education is available for children without having to travel long distances. 
“The new school will ensure this is available for local families and I can’t wait to see it up and running. 
“Rob Cawley will have my full support as he puts in the hard work getting the site ready to open its doors to students.”
Raising the issue with Gove certainly won't have been hard for Matthew Hancock as he was appointed a Junior Education Minister in the last reshuffle.

An alternative bid for a free school called Ixworth St Mary's was submitted by the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich that would have used the same site.

The process of awarding the school to Seckford is not open to public scrutiny of any kind whatsoever with the Secretary of State not even required to provide any reason for the decision.

Of course it might well have been the case that the Seckford bid was objectively the best but we will never know certainly whilst this Government is in power. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the outcome today at Ixworth shows the "hand of Hancock" in action. That and perhaps a desire to salvage the Seckford chain which now stands a much better chance of succeeding with a school at Ixworth that at last will deliver them the key ingredient for success of any school. Children!

A much more popular choice for parents in an area with a good deal more children than their previous two schools at Beccles and Saxmundham the Seckford Foundation must be celebrating the return of normal service in Suffolk politics that tends to deliver success to those who have the "right" friends as the seal is finally put on the "done deal".
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