Plans for Free School bid near completion

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PARENTS and residents have been given a glimpse of how plans to save a school are progressing.

More than 100 people filled the hall of Breckland Middle School, in Brandon, last Thursday evening to hear how a bid to open a new Free School on the site next September is only months from completion.

Sabres Educational Trust is the group behind the bid and leader Gordon Warnes said it was now choosing an education provider for the proposed school. It would be the first in the country to be run by an external provider.

Mr Warnes said: “We are doing it differently here because we want the best. This school is the centre of Brandon and we want to keep it that way.”

Suffolk County Council’s Schools Organisational Review (SOR) means that Breckland Middle School will close in September.

Sabres was formed after the closure was announced and the trust is now in a consultation period until November 3.

If the proposal is successful, the school will be opened for 500 students from 11-16 years of age.

The new Breckland Free School would open in September with Years 7, 8 and 9 before reaching full capacity in 2014.

Four education providers are competing to run the school, with tenders to be returned by October.

Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, gave his backing to the school’s plans in February.

However, concerns were raised by Graham White, Suffolk secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), who felt the relatively high level of resources given to Free Schools could leave other schools in the surrounding area struggling in comparison.