28 June 2012
Commenting on current pupil number figures for the Beccles Free School Christine Blower, General Secretary of the NUT, the largest teachers’ union, said:
“After a ‘consultation’ exercise in which 3,000 people registered their opposition and only 21 supported the bid, comes the news that the school at present only has 37 pupils.
“There was clearly no appetite for this school yet Michael Gove pressed ahead with it regardless. The number of pupils taking up places at the free school demonstrates the total lack of interest in a school which was neither wanted, nor needed in the area.
“The Seckford Foundation, the group behind the school told the Department for Education that there were ‘over 500’ people interested in the free school. The group’s preferred site for the school – Beccles Middle School – was to have 324 places, and the site the group was forced to accept on a temporary basis until it could move into the Beccles Free School site in 2014 was for a 162-place school.
“However, figures show that there will be just 37 pupils in the school in September – 10 in Year 7, 15 in Year 8 and 12 in Year 9.
“The Government’s free school policy is a dreadful waste of public money and interferes with proper school placement planning. They are being opened up at vast expense to the taxpayer to serve tiny numbers of pupils when other schools are being starved of funds. Furthermore, a veil of secrecy surrounds the rationale for these schools with the public being denied the information considered by the Secretary of State when approving these new schools to open. It is time for a Public Inquiry into the free school policy.”