Gazette paints inaccurate picture on Becket Keys

Once again the proposed Becket Keys Church of England PR machine has provided the Brentwood Gazette with good copy this week (22nd February edition). Richard Elms has even found time in his busy diary to reiterate the messages that were already available via the Becket Keys website.

Most of today’s article “Parents will have chance to make views known on free school” is a reproduction of the statements available on the site but contains a glaring inaccuracy.

Unless Essex CC and Becket Keys have misinformed us, the following statement is not correct:

“It is possible they will not know the full details of the funding agreement by March 15th, which is when the window closes for a decision about which LEA schools they might choose.”

To remind previous visitors to this site, both parties provided statements only last week that stated that the decision had not been made and was still under consideration in order to ensure a fair process for parents and other schools. (See previous post “Concentrate on Brentwood Mr Elms”)

This stance has to be correct. It would be outrageous if parents had to decide the future of their children without full knowledge of the funding and governance of the proposed free school.

It parents were forced to choose by March 15th it would also devalue the consultation. Although the Gazette reports that Becket Keys appear to be trying to do that themselves with the following statement:

“The team behind Becket Keys say the consultation will not stop the school opening in September at the site of the existing Sawyers Hall College, which is closing in July”.

This is an unwelcome and frankly arrogant approach that undermines the stated commitment to the consultation. Unless the proposed school can open without signing the funding agreement then this cannot be correct. If it is true, why should public money be taken from existing schools to fund this one?

Of course all of Brentwood, not just parents, have a right to understand the governance and funding model behind a state funded establishment in the town. It is a discourtesy to Brentwood residents and the process itself to pre-judge its outcome in this way. Furthermore a commitment should be made now that, until the consultation is concluded and the response from the DfE known, no parent should have to choose a school for their child for September 2012.

Brentwood deserves to be properly consulted.

On use of the site, the Gazette does provide some useful factual clarification for Brentwood residents. The University Techical College (UTC) bid has been resubmitted and has been tailored to occupy the site that Becket Keys does not envisage using.

Council leader Louise McKinlay is reported as supporting the bid which will be finally assessed in May.

Educating Brentwood intends to provide further information regarding this period in the near future.

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