Stephen Twigg MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, responding to news that Beccles Free School has filled only 37 places ahead of its planned opening in September, said:
“It is clear that local support for the plans to establish Beccles Free School has been very low.
“3,000 signatures were collected opposing the proposal to set up another school in an area which already has a surplus of secondary school places.
“There is real concern that in pursuing his pet projects, the Education Secretary is wasting public money. Michael Gove should explain to Parliament how much money has already been spent on this project, and whether he will allow it to continue if all the places are not filled.
“New schools should be built in areas where there is real local demand, not because they fit with the Government’s dogmatic ideology. This case shows that Michael Gove’s claim that free schools would be set up in response to parental demand was nothing more than a smoke screen.
“Instead of pursuing pet projects, Michael Gove needs to get a grip and address the urgent crisis in primary school places. Nearly half a million new primary places are needed across the country by 2015 and an extra 3,182 in Suffolk alone.”