Beccles Free School
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The school opened in September 2012, the first free school to open in the Waveney district. The school was first located at the site of the former Carlton Colville Primary School in Carlton Colville, however in 2014 it relocated to the former lower school site of Sir John Leman High School (formerly Beccles Middle School) in Beccles. The school is operated by the Seckford Foundation Free Schools Trust, an educational charity based in Woodbridge. The headteacher is Nigel Youngman.
There was considerable opposition to the opening of Beccles Free School from local campaigners, head teachers and senior politicians, including the local Conservative Member of Parliament Peter Aldous. The school attracted further controversy when it was revealed that only 68 pupils had enrolled at the school when it opened in September 2012, leading to accusations that the school was a waste of taxpayers money. The school opened with 12 teachers employed and had attempted to attract pupils with offers of free uniforms, school meals and iPod Touch devices. As of January 2013 an additional 34 pupils had joined the school.
In 2013 the Advertising Standards Authority upheld two complaints about the way in which the school had misrepresented the former roles of its then head teacher, John Lucas, and the results of an Ofsted health and safety check. The school amended some literature as a result.
In August 2015 the school received its first set of GCSE results. Just 39% of pupils achieved the government benchmark 5 A*-C grades including English and Maths. These results were below the government "floor" standard for schools and resulted in an external enquiry being launched by the Seckford Foundation. The school described itself as "disappointed" by the results which compared with 67% of pupils achieving the same results at the Sir John Leman High School, the main competitor for Beccles Free School.
The 2016 GCSE results were again below the national average, with a Progress 8 score of -0.37. 47% of pupils earned grades A*-C in GCSE English and Maths.
- New permanent home for Beccles Free School, Beccles and Bungay Journal, 2014-09-12. Retrieved 2015-09-30.
- Overall rise in GCSE results in Norfolk and Suffolk masks day of wide disparities between schools and districts, Beccles and Bungay journal, 2015-08-20. Retrieved 2015-09-30.
- New headteacher for Beccles school, Beccles and Bungay Journal, 2015-04-17. Retrieved 2015-09-30.
- Beccles Free School gets 37 applications for next year, BBC news website, 2012-06-28. Retrieved 2015-09-30.
- The expensive free schools no one needs, The Guardian, 2012-07-09. Retrieved 2015-09-30.
- Beccles and Saxmundham free schools to open half-empty, BBC news website, 2012-08-30. Retrieved 2015-09-30.
- New chapter in Beccles Free School row, Eastern Daily Press, 2013-01-04. Retrieved 2013-04-03.
- Beccles Free School attracts 34 more students, BBC news website, 2013-01-08. Retrieved 2013-04-03.
- Advertising Standards Authority upholds complaint against free school trust, Eastern Daily Press, 2013-01-12. Retrieved 2015-09-30.
- GCSE results joy for Waveney Valley pupils, Beccles and Bungay Journal, 2015-08-20. Retrieved 2015-09-30.
- Free school disappoints with 28% GCSE rate Schoolsweek, 2015-08-20. Retrieved 2015-09-30.
- GCSE results round up: Grades up in Norfolk and Suffolk; record success for some schools; other schools fall below minimum standard, Eastern Daily Press, 2015-08-21. Retrieved 2015-09-30.