A VISION by five ambitious Runcorn parents to create Halton's first free secondary school has reached a historic milestone.

Pupils and teachers have moved into an innovative £12 million building in Sandymoor, with space to accommodate 900 pupils aged 11 to 18.

The school opened two years ago in temporary premises and now has 176 pupils in years seven to 10 and 35 staff.

A sixth-form is set to be launched in September, 2015, and the school has pledged to share its facilities with the community.

Dad-of-two Richard Eastburn, aged 40, a sales and marketing director, of Sandymoor, and five of his neighbours have worked tirelessley to fulfill their goal.

The school was ranked 'good' in its first Ofsted inspection earlier this year with leadership and management hailed 'outstanding'.

He said: "We are very proud of what we have achieved. We wanted to have a secondary school in the heart of our community.

"This will give increased choice of very high quality education to students in Halton.

"We have inspirational teachers, an inspirational building and an inspirational way of teaching pupils.

"Standing inside it brings on all the emotions of what we have gone through.

"It is absolutely amazing and was a true team effort.

Mr Eastburn and the other founder Sandymoor parents, Andrew Lockyer, Bryan Jones, Jonathan Snow and Jo Wakefield vowed to send their children to their school.

Jo's daughter, Grace, was the first to enrol on Tuesday.

Head teacher Andy Green-Howard, aged 45, a former physics teacher, quit as deputy head of Bolton Independent Day School to take up his post.

He said: "I did take a huge risk, giving up a safe, secure job, because I believe 100 per cent in this vision.

"This has been an opportunity in a million. It has been an amazing journey.

"People in national education will look at Halton and see us as a shining example of what education can be.

"In March, we had over 500 applications for four teaching posts which shows that we are now a school where people want to come and work.

"What is so invigorating and rewarding is that we have created a fresh approach to learning.

"We have become a beacon."

He said 70 per cent of pupils walk or cycle to school.

Children will grow fruit and vegetables in an organic allotment, learn how to keep bees and make honey.

Students will be encouraged to set up their own businesses and follow healthy lifestyles, served with freshly cooked food and drink throughout the day filling bottles from chilled water fountains.