A NEW free school has celebrated the end of its first academic year with a prize giving ceremony.

Durham Free School opened in the former Durham Gilesgate Sports College premises, on Bradford Crescent, Gilesgate, Durham, last September, with about 30 pupils.

It is expected to treble in size this September, though it is still without a permanent home.

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Headteacher Peter Cantley said: “We will of course be judged primarily by the performance of the children in the core subjects of maths, English and science.”

But he added: “The children have excelled this year and I am absolutely delighted with all they have achieved.”

At the end-of-year awards, Luke Douglas picked up prizes for music, maths, science and attendance and William Forrest, who started secondary school a year early, won the overall Excellence Prize.

Mr Cantley listed the year’s highlights as including a geography and geology visit to the Lake District, a historical tour of Durham, a residential trip to North Yorkshire and children singing in an 8,000-strong choir at the Manchester MEN Arena.

The awards event also included poetry, a monologue and music.

Guest speaker Kevin Mann, headteacher of All Saints CE Academy, Ingleby Barwick, said: “Good things take time to mature and grow.

“I think you’re at the start of a journey that’s going to flourish and develop.”

John Denning, the chair of governors, paid tribute to the “tremendous contribution” made by staff and said the pupils’ progress had been amazing.