A newly-opened faith school in Cornwall has hit back at critics who they claim are seeking to “undermine” them for their anti-LGBT stance.

St Michael’s Catholic free school in Truro is the UK’s first Government-funded Catholic free secondary.

Its supporters and representatives say there was a need for the school as a place to teach “moral values”.

But the school has been criticised by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) as an “ideological gimmick” and by local politicians and a head teacher for its £4.5 million extension cost – despite there being 600 available places at secondaries in the surrounding area.

Mr Wallace Simmons, the grandfather of a former student, met with governor Joyce Sanderson and Father Chris Findlay – a priest at the church associated with the school – in response to these criticisms, which he called “an “orchestrated attack to undermine the school”.

Mr Simmons said that despite the school’s plans to teach anti-gay propaganda, “gays would be welcome to this school.”

He did however add: “But we would not encourage it.”

He went on: “The whole population is taught that homosexuality is fine and children should accept they can have two mums or [two] dads but they should not be taught that nonsense. It is not right.

“Schools are not teaching basic family values and that mum and dad are the heads of the family and that’s how it should be.

“There are so many problems in schools today where basic family values are not taught and it is OK for Jack to marry Jack and not Jill. The morals of this country should not be dragged down.”

“We want to know the [children] are happy to follow our teaching and that’s crucial. We do not wish to make children unhappy and refer to their home circumstances.”

He also said the school had something positive to offer to the community.

Father Findlay added that Catholic education was not a gimmick but a “strong brand” and “something many people value”.

He said: “We have our own ethos and approach to school. We have a clear understanding about the human person and how a person fits into the society including everything from marriage, work, family life, self-discipline and clarity of moral values.”

Mr Simmons said: “We want to know the [children] are happy to follow our teaching and that’s crucial. We do not wish to make children unhappy and refer to their home circumstances.

“I think those people who declare their views are entitled to express them as much as I am entitled to do so.

“The school follows the teaching of Catholic values and treatment [of children] is charitable.”