Beccles Free School
, which has been given approval by the Department for Education (DfE) to open in 2012, is already causing problems for a nearby academy – the only other secondary school in the area. Sir John Leman High
, in the small market town of Beccles, Suffolk, has been planning for scheduled expansion for years. It was expecting to take over a soon-to-be-vacant middle school to house its larger number of pupils.
But the building is likely to be allocated to the free school. Mr Rowe, the head of Sir John Leman High, was reported in the TES
as saying, “I have nowhere to put my new intake without that building. I may as well drop them off at the DfE and let them deal with it.”
The free school has the potential to cause even graver problems for Sir John Leman High – it could threaten its existence. The newly-converted academy is a successful school with a good reputation. It offers a wide curriculum and a sixth-form. But the projected number of pupils in the area is falling. There is no need for two secondary schools.
Mr Rowe told the TES that the reduction in pupil numbers will affect both schools. Either both will be half empty, with a knock-on effect on the range of subjects offered, or one would have such a small intake it would become unviable. The local authority has no power to close either school – only the Secretary of State could do that. But which one would face the axe?