Breckland Free School to be run for profit by Swedish company

Matthew Hancock MP with the SABRES Mascot
SABRES education trust (which stands for Save Breckland School) announced yesterday that "International English Schools" had won the contract to run Breckland Free School. The BBC report that IES UK is owned by a profit making Swedish company.

The contract is worth £21m over the next 10 years. Of that money clearly some of it will be taken in both profits and overheads (such as executive salaries) for the Swedish company rather than being spent on the education of Brandon's children.

This is the largest so far of such contracts which appear to be the DfE's preferred way of running schools. It appears to leave the trustees and Governors of the school more as contract managers than actually directly involved in the management of the school. I have visions from my experiences of other outsourced services of high extra charges. Who knows maybe for extra chalk needed in a particular lesson...

What is strange is this is the outcome of the clear desire of local parents to "save" Breckland Middle School which is a community school run in the usual way.

I can understand the desire of parents to do this (although I do not personally support the retention of middle schools). But the question is have they done this at all? The Breckland Free School will take a completely different age group 11-16 rather than 9-13 and only two school years (Year 7 and 8) will be retained.

And for all the school is pitched as a parent and community-led venture it remains to be seen what role parents actually have in running the school. My strong feeling is they will have less say than they currently do in the running of Breckland Middle School.

I don't live in Brandon so this is maybe easy to say but I would rather my children got on a bus to school each day than send them to a school run to make a profit by a Swedish company. It just doesn't seem right. But as parent and proposer Alicia Rickards-Ottevanger says:
"It was this route or nothing,"
But what this really shows is that concerns expressed by a number of people, myself included, that free schools are leading to a "marketisation" of education are real. For those of us that think that education is something special and opening a school is not the same as a supermarket yesterday was a sad day.
IES Breckland 927534191051027473

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