Update: Approval for Brandon free school

An application for a free school in a Suffolk town which facing a future with no secondary education has been given the go-ahead by the government.

Breckland Free School, now to be called IES Breckland, will replace Breckland Middle School when it closes in July this year following approval from the Department for Education.

Earlier this year, a �21m contract was awarded to a private Swedish company, Internationella Engelska Skolan (IES) UK, to provide education at the school, which will now open in September.

The news comes following a three-year struggle by SABRES (Save Breckland School), which later became an educational trust, to keep the site open, initially protesting against the closure of the middle school.

When this was lost the team turned their hand at producing an application to open a free school in the middle school buildings.

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Spokesman for the group, Alicia Rickards-Ottevanger, said she was 'elated' at the news.

She added: 'There's loads and loads more work to do and we've been listening to what the parents are saying they want from the school so the hard work starts now. It's something we know is going to happen now though rather than something we've been dreaming about.'

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The school will eventually accommodate 500 pupils aged 11 to 16 but will initially open with years seven, eight and nine, reaching its full capacity in 2014.

Sherry Zand was recently appointed as principal designate.

'Our vision for IES Breckland is for it to be a stimulating, secure and inclusive centre of both academic and vocational excellence in which students from all backgrounds and faiths in Brandon and its surrounding area are equally valued,' she said. 'We will together create a school that has as its core focus the delivery of high quality secondary education for the children of Brandon and its surrounding area.

'We want IES Breckland to be a school that supports each child to achieve better than they first thought possible.

'Our school will equip our students with the skills they need for a successful transition to either further education or future meaningful employment.

'IES Breckland will teach our students to be reflective, resourceful and resilient individuals who have high aspirations and self-esteem for themselves.'

MP for West Suffolk, Matthew Hancock, said the school would be a 'huge boost' to parents and pupils and added: 'For too long Brandon has felt let down, and this decision is a moment when the town can look forward to the future with confidence.

'Brandon has much going for it, and after today's decision, thanks to Michael Gove's new Free School policy, the town can be confident of the future of its school.'

Parents with children currently in years six, seven and eight who previously expressed an interest in the free school will now receive a letter and an application form from Suffolk County Council.

Application forms for both Norfolk and Suffolk families are also available to download from www.sabreseducationaltrust.com or collected from the reception desk at the current Breckland Middle School.

This can then be returned either to Breckland Middle School in the drop box or posted 7 Woodlands Rise, Brandon, Suffolk, IP27 0NU.

Confirmation of placement letters will be sent to all parents after March 1. Once all 100 places per year group are filled in, all further applications will be dealt with according to the school's admissions policy - a copy of which is also available on its website.

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