Free schools – the Warwickshire way
13 August 2010Add to My Folder
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A small village school in Warwickshire that relies on voluntary donations and fundraising is hoping to be one of the first free schools in the country. Julie Smart visited The Priors School to find out what this involves
Nine mums whose children go to The Priors School in Warwickshire recently completed the Lyke Wake Walk, a gruelling 42-mile hike across the North York Moors, in 18 hours. The £5000 they raised in sponsorship will help to pay the running costs at the small primary school that needs £140,000 a year just to stay open.
Fundraising has become a way of life for parents in the village of Priors Marston since Warwickshire Council decided to close their school 14 years ago. Priors Marston C of E School was built in 1847 and given in trust by the great-grandfather of Earl Spencer ‘for the free education of the poor and working class children of the village.’ Education is still free but no longer provided by the local authority. Two months after closing, in July 1996, Priors Marston primary reopened as an independent school with charitable status, thanks to the efforts of the local community, who have played a huge part in its success ever since.
‘We just wanted to keep the school in our village’, says local businessman, David Adams, who became co-chair of the board of trustees. ‘Our aim has always simply been to offer a high quality of education – nothing fancy or revolutionary.’