Free School plans move on a stage

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PLANS to convert a school earmarked for closure into a Free School have moved a step closer to fruition.

The SABRES Educational Trust’s application for the Breckland Middle School site to be converted has passed the Stage 2 phase.

The trust received a letter from Michael Gove, secretary of state for education, last Wednesday inviting it to submit a business case - stage 3 of the application process.

Gordon Warnes, Sabres leader, said: “SABRES are extremely proud to be able to say that the application was not bounced back to us to amend at all because of all the hours of hard work which went into making our case so strong in the first place.”

The proposal is the 39th in the country to be passed through stage 2 and the third in Suffolk.

In his letter, Mr Gove said the application was ‘sufficiently strong in all areas’.

He said: “I am very keen for the first Free Schools to be innovative and responsive to parental demand, and I believe that the new school your group is proposing can carry through this vision.”

Mr Gove also wrote to Matthew Hancock, MP for West Suffolk, who said he was delighted with the news.

“The SABRES team have worked tirelessly for a free school at Brandon and it is absolutely brilliant that the application is being taken forward,” he said.

SABRES must now meet with a Department for Education (DfE) representative to develop a business case.

The trust must also find an Education Provider to work with on the application.

Councillor Bill Bishop, a member of SABRES, said he was ‘over the moon’ with the decision.

“From a situation where we were crying at the loss of the school, things are now looking very positive,” he said.

Mr Warnes added that there is ‘a lot of hard work to be done’ before the school is approved to open in September 2012.