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History is made with the opening of Sandymoor School
A DREAM by five ambitious Runcorn parents to create Halton’s first freeschool has come true.
Sandymoor School opened on Monday with 20 year seven and year eight pupils, four teachers and revolutionary methods of empowering children to learn.
The temporary building only arrived two weeks ago - on 10 lorries from Ireland.
Dad-of-two Richard Eastburn, aged 37, a sales and marketing director, of Sandymoor, launched the bid with his neighbours,16 months ago, and is now chairman of governors.
Richard said: “I am absolutely ecstatic. Giving each student the best start in life is a dream come true.
“We always planned on starting small.To instal confidence in parents that we would be open when buldings only arrived two weeks ago is quite a feat.
“It is really difficult to sell just a concept. Certain people buy a car for a picture, but most people want to drive and have a look at it first.
“We are very passionate about education. Once parents see our facilities, how pupils are going to be taught and meet tecachers, this will be the last piece in the jigsaw as far as confidence in peoples’ minds.
“We are trying to provide an alternative so pupils don’t have to travel. Ninety per cent of our children can walk to school.”
The school, in Pitts Heath Lane, is one of 55 freeschools to open this week, funded by the Government.
It is inspected by Ofsted, manages its own budget and buys services from Halton Council.
Architects’ plans for a permanent building to accommodate 900 pupils, including a sixth form, are to be submitted next year, and open in phases from September, 2014.
The first batch of pupils live in Sandymoor, Windmill Hill, Palacefields and Moore.
Headteacher Andy Green-Howard, aged 43, was deputy head of Bolton Independent Day School, and has a degree in Physics.
He said: “I did take a huge risk, giving up a safe, secure job, because I believe 100 per cent in this vision.
“The opportunity to make a real difference to the local community is so exciting.
“The responsibility is huge but seeing it all come together is very rewarding.
“This is the best job in the world, I absolutely love it.”
Pupils will research future lessons for homework, using IT skills to enhance their own learning.
Classrooms have three wraparound whiteboards, with teachers in the middle to encourage interaction.
Children will develop their own international and community projects and learn to play golf and Zumba instead of PE.
Mr Green-Howard said: “Every student will have their own personal learning plan.
“We want young people to learn in a different way. We are making history.
“Students thoroughly enjoyed their first day. Watching them leave with smiles on their faces is the best feeling.
“Six months of hard work for me and 16 months for governors and founders all condensed down to that moment.
“It was a dream come true to watch the playground in use with Sandymoor students playing over lunch.”
Open days will be held on Thursday evening, September 20, and Saturday, September 29.