Is the "Beccles" Free School actually going to move to Beccles?

Former Beccles Middle School Site: currently used by
Sir John Leman High where Beccles Free School is
supposed to be moving in September 2014
This Blog covered in detail what we might call the “Battle of Beccles” the end result of which was that the Seckford Foundation opened a very small free school called Beccles Free School but actually located in Carlton Colville on the outskirts of Lowestoft.

The free school was originally planned to be located on the former Beccles Middle School site but this site was already earmarked to be used for two years to accommodate the extra children going to Sir John Leman High School as a result of the closure of the Middle School.

In the end Sir John Leman won and got to keep the Beccles Middle building for two years and “Beccles” Free School opened against near total local opposition in Carlton Colville.

Since then the school has been steadily growing leading some less informed commentators mainly based in London to suggest that the school has achieved its aims after all.

In January this year Conservative Home actually suggested that Stephen Twigg (at the time Labour Shadow Education secretary) should apologise for criticising the school:

The report goes on to make this incredible claim:
Yet increasingly parents in Beccles are deciding that the free school will offer a better education for their children than the alternatives. The school now has 102 pupils for its 108 places. Eventually it will have places for 540 and I will make a wild bet that by then it will be oversubcribed. The more parents find out about it, the better they like it.
What these commentators have missed is vital. Where these children have come from and local geography. All things our friends in London have constantly failed to understand through this whole story.

Put simply “Beccles" Free School has grown for two reasons:
  1. Two schools in Lowestoft went into special measures
  2. The school is located close enough to pick up children from these schools
What hasn’t happened is large numbers of Beccles children going to the school providing the alternative to Sir John Leman High School. Probably because so few parents wanted this choice in the first place. Sir John Leman happily continues to flourish and is now expanding on its current site to accommodate the younger year groups.

As for Beccles Free School it is due to be moving back to Beccles in September 2014 but there has been growing and well sourced speculation that it will not.

I asked Seckford’s PR company to comment on this speculation and they initially denied it point blank. However when further challenged that they are taking a further one year lease on the Carlton Colville site and that they have insufficient funds to refurbish the Middle School site they went quiet and have said nothing.

It remains to be seen what happens but the school moving lock stock and barrel to Beccles next year miles away from many of its pupils seems to be looking increasingly less likely.

My original post on the Carlton Colville plan
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