Shropshire's first free school opens to pupils

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Media captionBarrow School parent governors Richard Jackson and Greg Watson said they believed Shropshire's first free school would be a success

A Shropshire school that had been threatened with closure has become the county's first free school.

Shropshire Council's cabinet confirmed in July 2011 that Barrow CofE Primary in Broseley would close, partly due to its falling pupil numbers.

Parents applied for free school status to save the site from closure and take it out of local authority control.

The new Barrow 1618 Free School held an official opening on Tuesday and opened its doors to pupils on Wednesday.

Run by parents and funded directly by central government, the free school will also have greater freedom to teach its own curriculum and manage its budget.

Head teacher Andrew Taylor said: "We've got scope to develop our ethos, which we're all very excited about and parents are clearly very interested in as well."

More than 40 pupils are registered at the school this year but supporters said it could eventually cater for up to 70 children, from reception class to Year 6.

A CofE primary until it closed in July, Barrow 1618 Free School has retained its link with the Church of England.

Community asset

Simon Pennington was one of the parents involved in the free school application and his two children started classes on Wednesday.

He said there had been a school on the site for nearly 400 years and it was "an asset to the community" that needed a "kick start".

"There is an appetite for this kind of school, not all children fit into big schools," Mr Pennington said.

Parent governor Greg Watson said in many ways the school was getting back to its roots.

He said: "It was first opened in 1618 and it was opened as a free school for the poor boys of Broseley.

"Its main aim was to teach them maths and literacy and to grow their own vegetables to take home."

The school said its latest pupils would also be taught about horticulture, alongside core subjects.

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