A NEW school opened by a Christian organisation in Hornby is set to be the first 'free school' in the region.

Hornby Park School opened on Monday on the former site of Hornby High and is run by The Brethren, a Christian organisation whose members dedicate their lives to the teachings of the Bible.

The school is currently an independent school but head teacher Chris Ainsworth hopes to re-apply for free school status.

This will allow it to receive funding from the Government while remaining outside local authority control.

Mr Ainsworth said: “We have the capacity to cater for a least 150 pupils and we probably could squeeze some more in after that.

"We outgrew our last building. We expect to keep expanding considerably in the next year, so I think we will qualify."

The school failed an earlier application to become a free school because it could not provide all the information the Government required.

However, Mr Ainsworth is confident the establishment will have a stronger application this time round.

If the bid is successful the school could convert in 2012.

It would join the Maharishi School in Ormskirk as the only free schools in the North West.

“Everyone is welcome to study here as long as they respect the school's ethos,” said Mr Ainsworth.

"It's just like any other Roman Catholic school or Jewish school.

"We just ask people respect our ways of running things."

The new school term started last week with 60 pupils aged between seven and 18 – all of whom have moved from the Brethren’s former school in Leyland.

However, the site can cater for more than double that number.

The school will be teaching 100 per cent of the national curriculum with only one religious education class every two weeks.

School meals and internet access are also on offer to pupils.

The Brethren bought the site from Lancashire County Council earlier this year following the closure of Hornby High in 2009 due to falling pupil numbers.