Brandon free school still on track for opening

The team behind an application to create a so-called 'free-school' in Brandon have reassured parents and pupils everything is still on track to open in September 2012.

Breckland Middle School school is set to close in July 2012 following a move by Suffolk County Council from three-tier to two-tier schooling. But members of the Save Breckland School (SABRES) group, which campaigned for several years to keep the school open, submitted an application to turn the building into a free school.

In a letter received from education minister Michael Gove last month, permission was granted to proceed to the last stage of application and put forward a business case on which a final decision will be made. This is expected in a few months. The group is also focusing on securing an 'education provider' which will help deliver the school alongside SABRES.

Publicity officer Alicia Rickards-Ottevanger said a 'staggering' amount of reading, researching, summarising and writing of formal documents was going on behind the scenes.

She added: 'We're still on schedule. What we're trying to do now is procure an education provider to put a stage three business plan to the government. If they say yes then we can go through admissions. The EU procurement process is lengthy and could take us into early 2012 but it is completely necessary.'

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If given the go-ahead, the school would open with years seven, eight and nine in 2012 and add a year group until the full capacity of 500 students in 2014. Some 1,400 people expressed their approval at the idea of a free school in Brandon at a meeting last year.

Mrs Rickards-Ottevanger added: 'It's fantastic to be working with all sorts of different people in all sorts of different walks of life. The whole process has been a learning curve and we're all enjoying it. We're feeling very positive about it all.'

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Leader of SABRES, Gordon Warnes, said: 'Our trust will be spending public money and so we must make sure that we dot every 'i' and cross every 't' legally and without impunity when procuring our education provider. Only then can we submit the next form in conjunction with the education provider.'

Parents are still able to fill an Information Request form in which can be found on the SABRES' website

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