Learning more about new free school

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THERE was a very different feel at the newly named Priors Free School as the bell rang for the first time this term on Monday morning.

For the past 15 years the primary school, which is run independently, has scrimped and saved to raise the £150,000 a year it needs just to survive.

But after re-opening with its free school status in place this week there is a real sense of security and ambition for the future.

The school was closed by Warwickshire County Council in 1996, but an old law states that if the building isn’t used for educational purposes it will have to be handed over to Earl Spencer.

It was immediately re-opened as a charity, and in February this year education secretary Michael Gove confirmed it as one of England’s 24 new free schools.

The decision means the school will now receive around £2,700 for each pupil, in addition to a £1 million cash injection.

Headteacher Gary Murrell said: “This will improve the curriculum and our resources and one of the key things will be the chance for us to accept students from other villages and even Daventry.

“We already have new children that have started this week. Last year we had 33 pupils and now we have 44 so in percentage terms that’s a fairly big rise. We still have capacity for more pupils but we don’t want to have more than 20 per class so to maintain good teacher pupil contact and keep the standards as high as possible.

“Gaining free school status is just fantastic news for the school and there has been an enormous buzz in the village about what’s happening here. So much hard work has gone into this.

“There’s also a sense of excitement from the children as they will make more friends and having pupils here from different areas will improve their social skills and interaction.”

The £1 million cash injection will see a new classroom, reception area, staff offices and kitchen built. The IT facilities at the school will also be upgraded.

Co-chairman of the trustees David Adams said: “This just gives us a lot more security which is great for the school. The children played a big part and helped us choose the new name so they are delighted.”