Becket Keys – when do parents decline other offers?

This morning, March 1st  parents of Year 6 pupils across the country will have checked their mailboxes, virtual and actual, to find out which school has offered their child a place for September 2012 entry.

For those applying to the proposed Becket Keys Church of England School the process in Brentwood is different this year. Today they will have found out which existing school has offered a place and also whether the “free school” will accommodate them. As clarified to us by Essex CC earlier this week, at a date still to be decided, the offer from the existing school will have to be rejected in order to take up the offer from Becket Keys. (See “2012 Admissions – Essex CC confirm the definitive position”)

Educating Brentwood has been consistent in calling for this date to be set when parents have access to the DfE response to the required public consultation into the proposed funding agreement. In addition, a full understanding of how the Sawyers Hall College site will be used from September 2012 should also be public knowledge.

We were made aware by Essex CC that, in essence, this decision would be decided by the local authority and Becket Keys and we called on both parties to play fair by parents and existing local schools by using this as their benchmark.

However, a correspondent on the Becket Keys Facebook page seems to indicate that the position is still far from clear. Mr Ian Unwins states:

I’m confused. The information in today’s email regarding acceptance, but more importantly when to decline the Essex Authority place, is at total variance to the information (absolutely clarified by questions) given by RET rep at last Saturday’s meeting. ‘Legal’ reasons were given for not declining any place until after the funding consultation process was complete – some 8-9 weeks.”

The period mentioned in this comment fits with the reported consultation period of six weeks that Becket Keys have stated should begin in early March. This would appear to be a welcome nod to our view on this issue but the mention of “legal reasons” may in fact be a recognition that some other “free school” proposals at a similar stage are currently subject to challenges on the basis of inadequate or invalid consultation.

Worryingly however, the correspondent seems to indicate that this date is now to be brought forward. This would be unacceptable for the reasons already stated. The Becket Keys website has been updated today and provides no further clues with the following statement:

“Parents of applicants for places at Becket Keys for September 2012 have been contacted with offers of places by email and letter. Parents have been advised how to respond both to our letters and the places they have been offered by Essex.”

We will monitor the page to see if Mr Unwins is provided with a response later today. Should that not be forthcoming, we will also make enquiries of affected parents and, ultimately, Becket Keys to see if we can gain clarity for the wider Brentwood public.

If anyone can shed further light on this mystery in the meantime we, and the rest of Brentwood would be grateful!

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