Waveney District Council has no direct responsibility for education but the Council and the Overview & Scrutiny Committee can concern itself with matters which affect the overall wellbeing of the area and, following a motion put to Full Council on February 29, an extraordinary meeting of the committee was convened to discuss this issue.
The Seckford Foundation will oversee the establishment of the Beccles Free School, which has now received approval from the Secretary of State for Education, and Graham Watson, a Director of the foundation, accepted an invitation to answer questions from the all-party committee. The meeting was also attended by around 20 members of public.
At the end of a two-hour meeting, the Committee agreed that the process undertaken by the Department of Education to approve the new school required further scrutiny and, led by Chairman Cllr Tod Sullivan, it resolved to do the following:
1. That a representative from the Department of Education be invited to attend a future meeting of this Committee to address its concerns particularly with regard to the criteria for applying for a free school, the scope of the consultation required and undertaken, the provision of evidence for and against the opening of the Beccles Free School, the provision of a copy of the Impact Assessment for assessing the potential impact of the Beccles Free School on other schools within the Waveney area and details of the funding provision for the Beccles Free School and interim arrangements for the use of the former Carlton Colville Primary School on a temporary basis.
2. That the Leader of Suffolk County Council (Cllr Mark Bee) and Member of Parliament for the Waveney area (Peter Aldous) be requested to supply details of the submissions they have made in writing to the Department of Education and be given an opportunity to attend the proposed meeting with the Department of Education, if they wish to do so.
3. That the Chairman of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee be delegated authority to oversee all the necessary arrangements for the above meeting.