Please welcome with a guest blog Mr Jeremy Rowe, headteacher of Sir John Leman High School in Beccles, Suffolk, who is seeing very close up the effect of Michael Gove’s potty ideology, and is therefore able to spell out a recipe for disaster

Sir John Leman High School was established in 1632.  The school, which currently has 1300 students on roll, is in the small market town of Beccles, Suffolk (population 9,000).  The opening of a brand new secondary school next to its catchment area has created a large amount of surplus secondary school places.

The proposal to open a free school in Beccles, adding to the high number of surplus places, will make it certain that Sir John Leman High School, or the free school, or both, will fail.

How to create an unwanted and unneeded free school

Before starting, ensure you have a range of sharp knives: this recipe involves plenty of cutting

Serves:                         not many

Preparation time:         years in Opposition


1300 children who need a good range of curriculum choices

1 successful Academy

1 small market town, not big enough to support two secondary schools

6 other local schools, including two rated as outstanding, within a seven mile radius: all with surplus places

1 loss-making public school

1 tbsp of disgruntled parents

Millions of pounds of taxpayers money


1. Create legislation to allow any group, in particular faith and public school groups, the opportunity and money to operate a state school.

2. Take a successful partnership of secondary schools and divide them up.

3. Mix a tiny amount of disgruntled parents with a local public school which has recorded losses for six consecutive years.  Allow to simmer.

4. Weigh public opinion: don’t worry about this being accurate.

5. Use the consultation process to cook people’s views, and stew.  Do not allow to boil over.

6. Prepare a series of attacks on the teaching profession. Toss.

7. To remove impurities, allow the new school to decide its own catchment area.

8. Marinade in millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.

9. Apply a thin coating of moral outrage.

10. Lightly dust with appearances by beaming cabinet ministers.

11. Pickle the 1904 curriculum for future use.