New permanent home for Beccles Free School

PUBLISHED: 13:00 12 September 2014

Head teacher John Lucas and students at Beccles Free School celebrate being at their new permanent home in the town.

Head teacher John Lucas and students at Beccles Free School celebrate being at their new permanent home in the town.


Students and staff at Beccles Free School moved to their new permanent home this week.

Since it opened two years ago the school had been based at the former Carlton Colville primary school.

But on Monday, at the start of the new school year, it opened at the former Beccles Middle School at Castle Hill.

The past few weeks has seen a great deal of building work to get the school ready for its new role.

Head teacher John Lucas praised the “superb efforts” of contractors Willmott Dixon for getting the building ready for students to move into.

“We are also grateful to everyone at the Sir John Leman High lower school for leaving it in such a professional way which meant we could move in at the start of term,” he said.

The free school has grown considerably since it first opened and currently has more than 260 students.

“There is a great ethos at the school where we treat the students responsibly and they, in turn, return that trust to the staff.

“We want our students to fly and everything is geared to giving them the best education we can,” said Mr Lucas.

Some of the students have been at the school since the beginning and have studied at the free school in Carlton Colville and at Beccles.

“We enjoyed our time at Carlton Colville but everyone is delighted to be here at Beccles. This is our school and we are all proud to be here,” said student Lydia Sida-Page.

The school puts a great emphasis on providing an all-round education for its students and as well as academic studies is proud of its record in performing arts.

Nicola Best, performing arts leader at the school, said: “We have some very talented students across a whole range of performing arts including music, drama and poetry.

“It is something special to see the confidence of pupils growing as they tackle everything from playing in a band to performing in a play,” said Ms Best.

The students have already performed for patients at the Beccles War Memorial Hospital and at Carlton Court and look forward to playing an even greater role in the Beccles and district community.

“We chose to come to the free school and we are all very happy with the decision we made,” said Amy Debenham.

Deputy head boy Alex Rhodes is another student who said joining the school has made such a difference to him.

“I kept getting into trouble at my previous school but as soon as I came here and saw how all the staff and students are so friendly it has completely changed me.

“I cannot be happier at school as everyone is so friendly,” he said.

There will be a major change at the school in the New Year as head teacher Mr Lucas is all set to take up a national role with Her Majesty’s Inspectors in January.

However, the work he has begun looks sure to continue.

Rob Cawley, principal of the Seckford Foundation Free Schools Trust, which runs Beccles, Saxmundham and Ixworth free schools, said: “John has achieved a great deal in the time he has spent with the trust and has laid strong foundations for Beccles Free School.

“The appointment is credit to his work and we are all very pleased to see the recognition of his skills by a national organisation.

“We have already started a national recruitment programme to find a high calibre head teacher for the school and to drive its development and expansion in the years ahead.”

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