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Pupils pick their new head

Pupils at a small alternative school in Devon are delighted with their new head - after all, they interviewed all the candidates.

Chris Preece will lead the Small School, a non-fee-paying secondary in Hartland with just 30 pupils and no national curriculum. Here, pupils grow their own vegetarian food and have formal lessons in the mornings only.

Recently, pupils and parents gathered to interview five candidates shortlisted for the post. "Although it was the trustees' decision, and it was a close-run thing between two candidates, the kids were overwhelmingly in favour of Chris," said acting head Sue Clarke.

Mr Preece, born in nearby Exeter, taught for nine years in Torrington before travelling the world teaching English as a foreign language and pursuing his passion for marine archaeology.

Perhaps Mr Preece was tempted by the shipwrecks that litter the nearby Bristol Channel. It certainly wasn't the salary. All staff earn the same, pro rata, at the school: Mr Preece will take home pound;9,000 a year.

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