New principal excited by free challenge

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ATHERTON’S planned new free school has taken a major step forward after appointing its first principal.

Elizabeth Haddock, who has previously overseen the opening of two academies, has been chosen as the Principal Designate of the new Atherton Community School, which is due to open in September.

Originally from Leeds, Ms Haddock has previously been in charge at Salford City Academy and was recently Acting Principal of St Peter’s Academy in Stoke-on-Trent.

She will take up her new role in order to join the school’s sponsors, London-based charity and social enterprise Chapel St, at their next community consultation meeting on February 1.

Ms Haddock said: “I am looking forward to working with the whole community to create a school that will have a significant and lasting impact that the whole town can be proud of.

“I’m already very impressed by Atherton and looking forward to working there. Most towns have exactly the same shops on their High Street, but I was pleased to see all the individual shops in Atherton, presumably owned by local people.

“I also spoke to the library and found out it was under threat, so that will be a project I want to work with to save it, because to me a library is an essential for a community.”

Chapel St are currently looking for suitable premises to open their new school, which will be free from local authority control and will be able to attract funding directly from the private sector, under a model for schools being championed by Education Secretary Michael Gove.

Chapel St CEO Russell Rook said: “It’s been a community-wide effort to turn Atherton Community School into a possibility and we are absolutely delighted to announce that Elizabeth will be joining Chapel Street to help make the school a reality.

“We have already had parents applying for the school, and are looking forward to consulting with the community again on February 1. The Department for Education have appointed Partnership for Schools to look for suitable premises for us, and we are still working with the local authority to make sure somewhere suitable is available, so things are definitely moving forward.”

The next community consultation is in the Jubilee Hall Room at St Richard Parish Centre, on Stanley Street, on Feb 1, at 7.30pm.