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First free Herefordshire school 'will defy council critics'
THE headteacher of Herefordshire’s first free school says it will succeed because it is finally free from “the bureaucratic straitjacket that is Herefordshire Council”.
John Gerrish, who has worked with fellow volunteers to keep St Mary’s CE Primary School in Dilwyn open since Herefordshire Council announced plans to close it back in 2010, this week hit back at council bosses who cast doubts over the school’s financial viability.
Councillor Graham Powell, cabinet member for education, last week condemned the government’s decision to grant free school status, voicing “grave concerns” over the school’s long term future.
In reply, Mr Gerrish said the school - which opens for students today - would succeed because residents, staff and managers are determined to face the challenges ahead.
“Over the last five years, every attempt by Herefordshire Council to bring to an end more than 165 years of schooling in Dilwyn have been strongly resisted by the local community,” said Mr Gerrish.
"It was this sort of determination that led, after the closure of the council-maintained school, to the opening of the non-fee-paying independent school in September 2011, staffed entirely by volunteers and supported by donation."