Please note we have two sections to our Frequently Asked Questions
The first section is from the Parents’ Meeting Thursday 19th January 2012.
Our Second Section list questions from previously asked questions.
Our FAQs will be reviewed and updated on a regular basis.
Questions arising from the Parents’ Meeting Thursday 19th January 2012
If your question has not been answered then please feel free to get in touch.
How long will lunch be?
The final time will be decided following further consultation with local parents/carers but we anticipate it will be between 30 and 40 minutes long for each year group – staggered so that all students eat with their form tutor. In secondary schools, lunchtimes are shorter than in middle and primary schools – this can be to confront head-on problems such as bullying or smoking caused by students perhaps having too much time on their hands. Instead, we have built time into the school day for extra-curricular activities to take place after school with an earlier finish.
How will clubs at lunchtime take place when only half an hour for lunch is allowed?
All form tutors will sit and eat with their class each and every day, therefore providing vital social and pastoral contact with the students in their care.
There will be brief read-along clubs and some mentoring meetings occurring during that time too. We will be flexible on this and, if parents and pupils voice their opinions to us, we will consider increasing the lunch break to 40 minutes, as at other local secondary schools, and extend the school day by 10 minutes.
What food will be served?
Healthy food – hot and cold – with a vegetarian option. We have a firm commitment to providing an affordable and high quality lunch to as many students as possible during the school day. Ideally we would like to provide free food to all students but under current budgetary restraints this is not possible. We feel that through excellent leadership and promotion it is possible to encourage students to have school dinners and make healthy choices. Students will be able to serve themselves as well as clear up after themselves. Kitchen staff will be on hand to monitor food levels, portion control as well as to communicate freely with the students.
If not attending breakfast club, what time should pupils arrive at school?
If students have a mentoring appointment, then they will need to arrive between 7.45-8.15am for their allocated slot as agreed with their mentor. If not, then 8.30am for lesson 1. Mentors will be prepared to be flexible for the small numbers of students legitimately unable to attend before-school appointments.
If IES are interested in international staff, what opportunities will there be for staff in this area?
Free Schools can employ Unqualified Teachers – what is IES’s view on that?
All schools can and do employ unqualified staff – local schools already do. IES will expect talented and naturally gifted yet unqualified staff to achieve Qualified Teacher Status within a year and will of course be assessed under the same rigorous performance management as any qualified teacher.
What is the Principal’s vision for the school?
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. 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 by creating them a tailor made timetable to meet their needs and support them individually. 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.
Will there be more sports?
Clearly sport is very important and popular so we will hope to develop the legacy of Breckland Middle School.
Will the gym be extended?
As a secondary school, the area set aside for sports will have to be extended to meet the needs of the size of children as they reach upper years. We will certainly be looking into this in conjunction with Partnership for Schools who are responsible for ensuring that adequate building facilities are in place for the new school.
Will there be a dedicated sports department?
How many hours of sport will there be during the week?
Two timetabled hours plus extra-curricular sport. In addition, we hope to offer GCSE PE as we have listened to parents and pupils regarding the popularity and high achievements of local students.
What time will outlying village pupils pick up a bus and what happens if they have to attend breakfast club/mentoring group?
Pupils in outlying villages will pick up buses in time to arrive at school for 8.30am. Mentors will be prepared to be flexible for those legitimately unable to attend before-school appointments.
Are pupils who attend Breckland at the moment guaranteed a place at IES Breckland?
Priority goes to students with closest proximity to the school once the school becomes over-subscribed. Until the school becomes full (100 per year group) any child who applies will be given a place.
What funding is in place for September?
Part of the pre-opening phase of the school is to ensure all funding is in place for both the day to day running of the school as well funds for all structural building changes to the school. Capital Funding is also provided to pay for IT and other items such as chairs, desks and other items used in the school. Although funding will be confirmed well in advance of the school opening in September 2012, there is likely to be a phased approach to some of the building work to ensure the school is the right size for the number of pupils in the school. Funding is provided by the Department for Education for paying for the running of the school on an ongoing basis, and a Funding Agreement is expected to be signed in the next few weeks giving plenty of time for arranging items required before the school opens.
Will an SEN Coordinator be in place?
Yes – we will have a Head of Inclusion who will also be a member of the leadership team to demonstrate their strategic role in ensuring all students with SEN make the progress expected of them. The Inclusion Team will be responsible for identifying needs, designing support plans and making provision of resources or referrals as appropriate. Individual education plans will be drawn up for students with Statements, at School Action and School Action Plus, in conjunction with mentors. These plans will show how each student with special educational needs is expected to progress, with emphasis on increasing access to mainstream lessons, and will be discussed with students and their parents on a weekly and fortnightly basis respectively.
The Head of Inclusion will enlist the support of external agencies for students at School Action Plus. Additional funding for students with statements will be spent on additional staff for students with a statement of special educational needs, and resources as required, who will lead one-to-one or small group classes designed to increase access to the mainstream curriculum. They will also ensure that special educational needs are in no way a barrier to joining in with community events and activities.
How many teachers will be employed?
What will be the size of classes?
No more than 25.
Will community groups continue and can a meeting take place?
Yes – and we look forward to meeting with the groups currently using Breckland as their venue.
You mention an ICT qualification at the end of Year 8? What opportunity will there be for students in Year 9 to catch up?
We will roll the programme out to ensure that students in affected year groups will have the same amount of time to take the qualification as others.
Will IES build on the field?
There are no plans to do so.
Will the swimming pool be kept?
Yes – we would love to. Covering the pool could be one of our first community projects together We are fully aware that the swimming pool exists because of an earlier impressive community project.
Will after school clubs continue?
Yes – we will have a full and extensive range on offer: a homework club, subject catch-up, sports, drama, music, art, Duke of Edinburgh and Youth Community Leadership Awards to name only some.
Will a 6th form be in place?
At present we must focus on providing the best 11-16 education possible for the community. We would love in the future to investigate a sixth form option on site.
Is there a charge for breakfast/after school clubs?
Mostly no charge – there may be some exceptions however.
How often will mentoring groups occur?
Fortnightly meetings with mentors and those mentors will contact home fortnightly also.
Who will mentors be?
Mainly teachers although some non-teaching staff may be used in certain circumstances. Mentors will be responsible for no more than 16 students and have web-based software at their fingertips to record and track the progress and welfare of their mentees. Parents will also have access to the same software which includes annual reports, individual educational plans, timetables, homework and assessment schedules as well as levels of attendance and punctuality.
When will the uniform be chosen and will parents have a say?
Consultation has already begun. If you have any ideas, then please do get in touch. We hope to have affordable, durable and smart uniform available to purchase from Easter.
Will after school clubs be for all ages?
The following is a list of the previous frequently asked questions.
FAQ 1 - What is a Free School?
It simply means that our school would be 'free' from Local Authority control. The money for the school is released directly from the Government and comes straight to the school to be spent as the Trustees and the Education Providers see fit. We feel it is a brilliant strategy because the money gets spent where our community's children need it.
FAQ 2 - What is the structure of a Free School?
We have set up a Limited Company with a board of Trustees. These Trustees and the SABRES group make an initial application to Government for permission to set up a Free School on the current Breckland Middle site. After that we start work on the lengthier application form. Free Schools need four things:
- A Site
- Community Support
- A Business Plan
- An Education Plan
Both the Business Plan and the Education plan are worked out between the Education Provider we choose, the team of consultants we choose and the Trustees after our initial application.
FAQ 3 - What is an Education Provider?
Although we are a committed group of parents, local community members and educationalists. We recognise that as a group we do not have the time, skills or resources to run a school. For this reason we have elected to appoint an education provider (EP) to run the school under the trusts direction. The Education Provider we have identified is a privately owned company specialising in education provision who will be employed by the Trustees for the school. We are only interested in those companies who demonstrate willingness and enthusiasm for working with the community, coupled with the appropriate skills and experience to run our school. We are in the process of running a rigorous procurement exercise, as stipulated by European law. When talking to people we have noted that some community members are concerned that all education providers are interested in our school purely for its potential for profit. We have been very careful to understand the motivations behind each provider shortlisted; it is important to us that those companies involved in the process do not wish to ‘line their pockets with gold’ but reinvest their profits for the good of educating students.
FAQ 4 - How do Free Schools make money?
It is important to understand that the purpose of this free school is not to make profit but to provide high quality education for children in Brandon and surrounding communities. However it is also pertinent that the Education Provider charge a management fee. Below we have attempted to outline the basic economic premise of this free school.
There are two parts to this:
The Trustees will be a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee and, later, with charitable status.
The Trustees will appoint an Education Provider who manage its money well by building up economies of scale over time. For example, it has one computer supplier or one furniture provider for all the schools it provides education to and these contracts are constantly monitored to ensure value for money and competitive rates.
Keep in mind that, when money comes from Government per head of child, county councils keep approx 15% before it is passed onto schools - this will no longer be the case. The management fee will certainly be much less than 10%.
FAQ 5 - The Free Schools idea is criticised nationally as being 'privatisation by the back door' and that they will be selective of students based on high academic results. How do SABRES view this?
We agree that this is a topic for debate nationally but wish to state that OUR community group is ONLY interested in Education Providers who would be non-selective. The Trustees (from our community) appoint the Education Provider and, therefore, the majority vote about the admissions policy etc. would always rest with members of our community. It will not be possible for the Education Provider to 'railroad the Trustees into doing their bidding' but, again, the Trustees won't be appointing an Education Provider who has anything less than our vision at their heart too.
FAQ 6 - What do SABRES find most impressive about IES?
Their professionalism, their sincere dedication to education and their genuine commitment to our community. We feel that they match exactly with our ethos, values and philosophies for our school. Their bid for the contract was outstanding – including efficient budgeting, innovative, fresh and realistic ideas for our school and even plans to invest their own capital (which I think is an incredibly salient point given the direction the press have taken with regard to ‘profit’).
Above all, we believe that IES will deliver our vision of an all-inclusive community school with enthusiasm, dynamism and passion for the task in hand. They will raise educational aspirations and academic attainment of all students regardless of wealth or social background; they will focus on Literacy and Numeracy within a diverse community, bring a strong but fair disciplined approach and a commitment to high quality pastoral care, continuing the excellent legacy of the closing Breckland Middle School. They plan to provide extensive opportunities for our young people who wish to take a vocational route and will maintain the site for use as a community hub outside of school hours.
IES are open, honest and transparent as is IES UK’s Manager, Jodie King, who has a long history of education in the UK and who has demonstrated to us that she is devoted to this project, determined to move things forward swiftly as soon as we have our answer from the DfE and who shares our common sense approach towards education.
IES represent the very last hope our community has of retaining secondary education in Brandon which is what Sabres have fought for 3 years to keep.
FAQ 7 - Will there be local employment created by the proposed Free School in Brandon?
Absolutely. The Trustees choose the Education Provider who appoints the Principal. The Principal then appoints his/her staff team. Current staff at Breckland Middle School would ALL have to apply for a post within the new school - Senior Staff, Teachers, Teaching Assistants, Office Staff, Site Staff, Cleaning Staff, Kitchen Staff. It will be a highly competitive market and this will lead to high standards.
Example 1: the best local teachers and teaching assistants, and those from across the UK and beyond, would be attracted to this kind of flagship school.
Example 2: Catering companies, employing local people, could tender for the work and be appointed because they deliver high quality food at cost effective prices.
Example 3: Cleaning companies, again employing a local workforce, could also tender and be employed due to efficiency and their own high standards.
Performance is checked and monitored closely by the Principal, Education Provider and Trustees, thus insuring that high standards are maintained.
FAQ 8 - Will parents have to pay for their children to attend the Free School?
No. Funding comes directly from Government. The same amount per head of child is released as for a pupil at any Local Authority controlled school.
FAQ 9 - How will you achieve a balanced curriculum with a relatively small Secondary school?
Creating a balanced and appropriate curriculum which will serve the needs of all children who attend the school is one of our priorities. We are very aware of some potential limitations which can be imposed on small secondary schools. During the procurement exercise we have been careful to establish the parameters of our education vision and work with the education providers to create solutions for a small school situation. We recognise that we have a responsibility to every child to allow them to develop in the way that suits them best. This is often through a diverse and all inclusive curriculum.
Some ways in which we have thought we may achieve this are:
- Working closely with community businesses and Education Providers.
- Shared curriculum options between Breckland free school and other local education providers.
- Innovative curriculum delivery methods: The use of video conferencing for remote lectures in discreet subject areas, and the use of modern technology to form international / interscholastic working groups.
FAQ 10 - How would the new school provide for Special Educational Needs?
All pupils, including those with SEN, will need functional skills to be able to make a successful transition to adulthood. For example: reading letters, writing job applications, telling the time and handling money.
In addition to leaving school with basic English and Maths skills, some pupils will need proper work experience and vocational skills. This could be achieved via truly meaningful apprenticeships and specialist training.
Here are some of our ideas:
- Alternatives to GCSEs could be offered to a small proportion of a year group, eg. AQA Unit Awards.
- All staff will need high quality training in behaviour management.
- All pupils suspected of displaying Dyslexia and Dyscalculia could be screened within their first term of being at the school.
- Each pupil should receive Individual Education Plans so that 'no child is left behind'.
Again - this is all up for discussion and will be addressed by our education provider.