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Thurston: No staff at closing middles have been taken on so far by Ixworth Free School

PUBLISHED: 11:00 10 May 2014

Graham White, Suffolk NUT

Graham White, Suffolk NUT

Archant

Headteachers at three closing middle schools have expressed concern that nearly 140 staff do not have a job to go to in September.

Blackbourne Middle School in Stanton, Beyton Middle School and Ixworth Middle School are closing at the end of the summer term due to the educational reorganisation to a two-tier structure.

Thurston Community College and the primary schools have been expanding their age ranges to take on the extra students and Ixworth Free School, run by the Seckford Foundation Free Schools Trust, is due to open this September at the site of the former Ixworth Middle School.

Headteachers at the three closing middle schools have told this newspaper that so far none of their staff have been offered positions at the new school.

The Seckford Foundation Free Schools Trust has said its policy when recruiting staff “has always been to find the best candidate for each position”.

In total 132 staff members at the three middles, including teachers and support staff such as teaching assistants, do not yet have jobs to go to, though some are considering retirement.

Glenice Francis, headteacher at Ixworth Middle, said out of 47 members of staff eight had jobs for September, while at Blackbourne Middle headteacher Phil Vigrass said out of 37 employees 10 had jobs to go to and Ann Gardner, headteacher at Beyton Middle, said 14 of the 80 staff the school employs had secured work.

Mrs Gardner said she was “disappointed” none of her staff had yet been offered jobs at the new free school, but added it was that school’s perogative to choose the staff it wanted.

This view was shared by Mr Vigrass, who added: “Thurston [Community College] have offered some places, but not as many as we has hoped have got jobs there.”

Helen Wilson, principal at Thurston Community College, said the college was “committed to offer employment to as many staff currently working in our three feeder middle schools as possible”.

“We are delighted that 16 contracts have already been awarded to our middle school colleagues and hope that this number will increase as we fill our remaining vacancies,” she said.

Dr Robert Cawley, principal of the Seckford Foundation Free Schools Trust, said: “Any qualified and successful teachers wishing to be considered for future posts in any of our schools are always welcome to contact us and discuss any opportunities we may have at any of our free schools.”

Graham White, county secretary for Suffolk National Union of Teachers (NUT), said his advice to staff would be to be “very wary” of applying for a job in a free school because these schools can set their own pay and conditions for staff.

But he felt Ixworth Free School had a “morale duty” to at least offer places to the middle school staff if they chose to apply because the new school was effectively preventing Thurston Community College from taking on as many staff as it had originally planned.

Miss Wilson said: “Whilst I support the parental choice that having other schools in the area provides undoubtedly that has had a knock-on effect because with fewer children we need fewer teachers.”

Mrs Francis said there were not that many options available to the remaining teachers looking for jobs, adding supply work was not a secure income.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said about 40% of staff from the closing middle schools had secured other posts since the School Organisation Review (SOR) began in the area. He added this term was a busy time for recruitment.

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