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Clare: Minister attends official launch of Suffolk’s ‘flagship’ free school

10:00 15 June 2013

Keith Haisman BEM, Lord John Nash and head teacher Christine Inchley at the official opening of Stour Valley Community School in Clare.

Keith Haisman BEM, Lord John Nash and head teacher Christine Inchley at the official opening of Stour Valley Community School in Clare.

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Education Minister Lord Nash has described Suffolk’s first free school as a “flagship for the Government’s education reforms”.

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He was speaking at the official launch of Stour Valley Community School in Clare this week, which – when it opened in September 2011 with 180 students – was one of just 24 free schools in the UK.

Lord Nash praised the hard work and determination of local people who had taken an idea on a blank sheet of paper and worked tirelessly to turn it into a thriving school with 320 students.

Among them was current chairman of governors Keith Haisman, who was awarded the British Empire Medal earlier this year for spearheading the three-year campaign to get the school up and running.

Stour Valley Community was one of 323 institutions that initially applied to the Government to become free schools. But it was one of just two in East Anglia given approval in the first round of applications.

During the past year, the school has undergone a major refurbishment and building programme and now has a new science block, dance and activity studio, music block and a communal area.

It also has the capacity to accommodate up to 540 pupils. Lord Nash said he was “delighted” to be asked to perform the official opening duties, adding: “As one of the first free schools to open, Stour Valley Community really is a flagship for our education reforms. It was a privilege to see what parent and community-led demand, motivation and hard work can achieve.

“(The school’s) traditional curriculum and strong value system will raise standards in the area and will prepare young people really well for their future.”

Mr Haisman added: “As a school serving the needs of our rural community, our students come from a wide area and a large number of schools.

“Our staff have worked very hard to ensure that all students settle in quickly and make exceptional progress through the school.”

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