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free school opening causes job uncertainty

29 August 2012

When two schools close and their governing bodies come together to open a new school to replace them, do staff have a right to a job in the new school? This is the question being grappled with in Sefton, where Hawthorne's Free School is due to open in September.

The Department for Education (DfE) has historically tended to take the view that the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations do not apply to free schools, so staff don't automatically transfer.  This is the advice they have reportedly given the Governors here.  It is this stance that the unions will be arguing against in a bid to protect the jobs of approximately 100 of their members.

If unions pursue a legal challenge, it will be for the employment tribunal, not the DfE to decide whether the staff transfer.  No doubt the DfE’s policy division will be keeping a close eye on this, particularly as it’s likely to have implications for other Free Schools across the country.

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