THE BOROUGH'S first and only free school opened its doors to welcome pupils on Monday.

There were tears from the younger children and excitement among the 11-year-olds on the first day of term at new Reach Academy Feltham.

Principal Ed Vainker and his team of teachers greeted a sea of students dressed in their navy blue uniform. The new state school for students aged four to 18, starts with a full 60 pupils in reception and only half, 30, in Year 7, with plans to grow each year and become an all-through school.

Principal Vainker brings a wealth of experience having taught in Peckham, and White City, joined a teacher training organisation in the US and spent time in schools in Australia and India. He said: "We wanted to serve a community where there was a need and shortage of spaces. We wanted to offer parents something different as we found many children were currently leaving the area for secondary education. Also we believe there will be a shortage of secondary places from 2015. 

"Exactly 11 months ago we were approved to open by the Department for Education and it has been an exciting journey since then. We have recruited a superb staff team, have an excellent school building and will open a school with the highest academic and behavioural expectations where pupils will be supported to excel."

The school's temporary home, for up to two years, is located at Bridge House on Hanworth Road which holds a reception room, Year 7 classroom, staff room, kitchen and dining facilities and two play areas.

In the long term when its permanent home at Fern House on Feltham High Street is ready to move into plans include opening a nursery too.

A taster day and two week summer school for Year 7 students in August helped familiarise teenagers with the school and each other, and every family has been visited at home.

Open days will be held on Tuesday (25) from 10am-midday, Thursday (27) from 6pm-8, Monday (1) from 6pm-8, Tuesday (9) from 6pm-8 and Thursday (11) 9am-11. An official opening ceremony will be held later in the year.

For enquiries call 07880 735210 or email