Anger as current Breckland Middle School teachers miss out on jobs at new free school

Angry parents have voiced their shock after it emerged none of their children's existing teachers had got jobs at the new successor free school.

The National Union of Teachers, which had opposed plans for the forthcoming Breckland Free School in Brandon, last night told how its previous warnings over mass staff redundancies had gone unheeded by the wider community there.

The new free school will open in September on the soon to be closed Breckland Middle School site and run by incoming principal Sherry Zand.

Founded by the SABRES Educational Trust, the new school will be run on the trust's behalf by the British arm of the Swedish firm Internationella Engelska Skolan (IES) , under a 10-year deal worth �21million.

SABRES confirmed none of the 13 staff appointed so far were from the existing middle school but said that reflected a rigorous recruitment drive and a determination to select 'only the very best' for the new school.

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But one parent, who did not want to be named, said: 'We expected some degree of change, but this is wholesale, absolute change. We feel lost.'

Another said: 'I wonder how many parents knew that when they signed up to support the new free school they were signing up to a headteacher without experience of actually running a school (her previous role was as a deputy headteacher), signing up to importing teachers from abroad, and signing up to a school without most if not all of the existing teachers being made redundant and new staff being brought in?

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'Interviews for positions have apparently just taken place and it would appear that few, if any, of the current staff have been successful in their applications.

'If it is because they are employing better teachers then of course that is wonderful and to be praised. If it is to do with cost cutting then I fear for the future of the children in Brandon.

'What are we getting?'

Gordon Warnes, chairman of SABRES, said: 'IES Breckland is now well underway with its staffing recruitment programme and we are excited to have already made 13 offers to outstanding individuals who share our commitment to delivering excellent teaching and significantly raising educational standards.

'The majority of the offers we have made are to local people although we would like to hire one or two international staff at some point in the future to enhance our staffing team – particularly with high quality maths and science teachers from Canada and the US.

'Sherry Zand, the principal of IES Breckland, is rigorous in her efforts to find the very best, mission led teachers and is keen to appoint them on a competitive salary, in line with union agreed pay scales.

'Our newly appointed team of staff are keen to play a huge role in the community and look forward to getting to know students and parents very well over the course of their child's education at IES Breckland.'

Graham White, Suffolk secretary of the NUT, echoed parents' concerns but added he had warned them about the implications last year at a public meeting about the free school. He said he was criticised at the time by parents for not supporting the idea.

'I was critical,' he said. 'I have tried to get some reassurances on a number of issues, but we have got absolutely no guranatee whatsoever that the free school will only employ qualified teachers.'

SABRES has said it would only employ qualified teachers.

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