Becket Keys Consultation Report – “Exact version” or brief summary?

On the 15th May all those who responded to the proposed Becket Keys Church of England School funding agreement consultation were sent a two-page report that was also posted on their website. It was a surprisingly brief document given the importance of the decision that it was supposed to inform but I read it and commented that day in the post “Becket Keys consultation report does not accurately reflect responses received”:  http://wp.me/p2dr6s-8crief  

We had of course been informed by Richard Elms of the Russell Education Trust (RET) in correspondence on 21st March, that “the report published on our website will be the exact version communicated to the DfE.”

Taking that at face value, I wrote to the Brentwood Gazette highlighting my concerns about the incomplete nature of the document and illustrating that my own response had not been reflected in it. The letter was published in the May 23rd edition and a copy can be found here:

Gazette_letter_about_the_RET[1]

In common with all others on the Becket Keys mailing list, I received a mail on the 28th May that seems to contradict Mr Elms’ statement. To clarify matters I wrote to Becket Keys on 10th June:

“Subject: Consultation submission to the DfE
Date: Sun, 10 Jun 2012 11:32:15 +0100

In previous correspondence with us you committed that the version of the funding agreement consultation report that you published on your website would be an exact match of that provided to the Department for Education.
 
On the 28th May your mailing list update stated:
 
“We have completed our consultation. The submission to the Secretary of
State, in preparation for the Funding Agreement, is being prepared by
our lead civil servant.”
 
This seems to suggest that a different report is being sent to the DfE than the one that is on your site currently. Please can you send us a copy of your actual submission to the DfE so we can be clear?
 
Many thanks
 
Educating Brentwood”

A curious statement certainly as I am not sure that private companies can employ civil servants, “lead” or otherwise.

In common with all e-mails sent to Becket Keys since March 30th, I have yet to receive a reply.

The Secretary of State has a statutory obligation to assess whether a free school proposer has met their “duty to consult”. The local community should have full transparency on how the proposers have presented this case to the Department for Education to allow us to decide whether he has met his obligation based on what was sent and that public money is being properly granted to the proposers.

As Becket Keys won’t clarify this, I have submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the DfE. I will share its contents when I receive them.

This was a course of action that those opposing the establishment of “Beccles Free School” had to resort to earlier this year. This has been comprehensively covered by local blogger James Hargrave and it may interest those reading this to contrast the 13 page document that the proposers of that school provided with the Becket Keys equivalent. This can be accessed via the following post:

http://blog.hargrave.org.uk/2012/05/beccles-free-school-consultation-report.html

You may be surprised to know that in this case the funding agreement was passed despite a clear majority of respondents opposing the establishment of the school, including the local Conservative MP.

This may go some way to explain the half-hearted attempt to consult the community but at least we will all be clear on the basis that these decisions were made and can in future hold those making those decisions to account for them. 

Stephen Mayo

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