IES Breckland: Staff "best of the best" or cheap and easy to manage?

IES trying to drum up trade for more new schools
I reported earlier on the “backlash” in Brandon against the new IES managed free school taking place on the Brandonsuffolk forums.

Many posters are suggesting that the free school that is emerging is nothing like the promises made during the campaign for a new school.

In particular none of the existing middle school staff have been hired. Many apparently being rejected for a lack of Key Stage 4 experience.

Last weekend a “meet the teachers” event was held in Brandon but this appears to have set even more “alarm bells” ringing. Whilst many report meeting extremely enthusiastic staff many appear to have little if any real teaching experience.

This post from someone who attended the event is typical:
The ICT and drama subject leader was a most charming and enthusiastic chap. I was however somewhat suprised that he was still at University and had no actual class-room experience of teaching, let alone as a subject leader with strategic input into the development of a core part of the curriculm.
The school is apparently only having 2 or 3 Teaching assistants. I believe the current school has 7? I wonder how with mixed ability groups and statemented pupils this works? Again the TA I spoke with had no practical experience of working in a school.
In January when the final announcement was made it was heavily suggested that there would be a range of modern languages available to pupils. The range would appear to be French, French or French?? so much for more choice.
I was also disappointed to note that science would not be taught as separate subjects (Physics, chemistry and biology). I don't see how this best serves the interests of our children at GCSE.
I really hope I am wrong about this. Somebody prove me wrong please???
Note these posts are from Brandon parents who supported the free school and actually want to send their children there.

Worryingly I also understand that practical teaching assessments i.e. going to watch the staff actually teaching have not been conducted. As someone who has appointed a number of teachers this really concerns me. I would not hire teachers that had not been observed teaching.

Newly qualified teachers (NQTs) can of course be excellent. Frequently enthusiastic and eager to please they also have another quality schools like. They are cheap. Much cheaper than experienced teachers.

I am a big fan of employing NQTs but I do think this needs to be as part of a team consisting of more experienced staff. Particularly in a secondary school where there is a need to teach GCSE courses. I would expect the subject leaders to have some considerable experience which does not appear to be the case.

When it was revealed that they had employed no middle school staff the claim was that this was because they had employed the “best of the best” but now the staff have been revealed many are questioning this.

Middle school staff were rejected because they “had no Key Stage 4 experience” but it seems that many of the new IES staff do indeed have recent Key Stage 4 experience. As pupils and not that long ago.

Hopefully the grey cloud overhead the IES Staff is not a sign of trouble ahead
On the forums people are speculating that IES (and the SABRES trust that is supposed to be governing the school) have had a deliberate strategy to hire younger and cheaper staff and to make a clean sweep of getting rid of the existing middle school staff:
How can anyone connected with this selection process come out of it with some pride? Surely they have discriminated against all those staff who have more than two years experience! 
Their job selection criteria must have been anti experienced staff and anti Breckland Middle Staff from the start because they cost too much! As for the selection of an ICT teacher who then takes over History teaching because they 'have done a bit of it in a secondary school'.
If this is true there could be two reasons for this. Firstly to maximise profit by paying lower salaries. Secondly to make the staff “easier to manage”. Younger less experienced staff tend to do what they are told rather than challenging the management but a more experienced teacher might be a bit more of a challenge. Particularly if like incoming Principal Sherry Zand you have not actually run a school yourself before.

But if you take a look at this promotional video that IES have put up to try and drum up more trade for new school ventures you can see that the SABRES Trust who ran a hard campaign to open a school in Brandon seem happy to completely outsource all aspects of running the school to IES even though the UK branch of IES does not have any experience at all or running a school.

I don’t think this is what parents and teachers in Brandon had in mind when they campaigned for a free school. They were led to believe it would be like the much loved Middle School where they had a say in how it was run. Indeed as a “free school” I think many expected more parental involvement than the schools controlled by the local authority.

The penny is now dropping that this was just spin and some are now beginning to ask questions of local MP Matthew Hancock and Councillor Bill Bishop but the silence from SABRES is a worrying sign. The politicians have “got their school” now and it will be interesting to see if they are interested in “listening to parents” now the need to get their support has passed.
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