Stories + Views
What do they know that we don’t?
Here in Suffolk we have been anxiously awaiting news on three free school proposals by The Seckford Foundation. Beccles and Saxmundham are in pre-opening, scheduled to open this September if approved, but still waiting funding agreements. For Stoke by Nayland we are waiting to hear if they are to be interviewed following submission of their business case.
There are no recent updates on any of the websites dedicated to these three proposals, and nothing new on the Seckford Foundation’s website or that I can find on the DfE.
However the Seckford Foundation, despite the significant opposition demonstrated locally and nationally to the Beccles proposal in particular, have clearly felt for a while that they have grounds for optimism. They have already appointed a free schools principal-designate (a subject of controversy in itself), are currently appointing heads, and have advertised for teaching staff. But today they have produced a letter for parents in Ixworth regarding their fourth free school proposal, in which they state that Beccles and Saxmundham are to open in September and that their interview for Stoke by Nayland will be in May. The expression they use: “successfully applied to run two free schools”, is the same phrase they have used since the bids for Beccles and Saxmundham got through to pre-opening, and we do of course hope that this means they still have no actual funding agreement to announce, but here in Suffolk we have already grown cynical because of the DfE’s apparent willingness to spend millions replicating school places in an area with an ageing population.
The Seckford Foundation have already consistently demonstrated their inability to engage in open debate about the merits or otherwise of their proposed schools, and have run shy of any real debate. But they appear to be more keen to elicit parents’ support for their fourth free school venture than to communicate any news about their existing proposals to those of us who live here!