Inheritance comes in many shapes and sizes, but for one Midland man it came in the form of a school, as Education Correspondent Shahid Naqvi found out.

Jonathan Challinor is a barrister specialising in criminal law. But he entered a completely different world last year when he inherited Norfolk House - an independent preparatory school in Edgbaston.

The school was bequeathed to him upon the death of his father, Gerald.

"The worlds are polls apart," said the 31-year-old, who works for city centre-based Cornwall Street Chambers. "In my profession you see the depths of human nature. It is lovely to be able to see the flip side of the coin. You are not dealing with murderers and rapists - you are dealing with children under the age of 11.

"They are young kids who are on the verge of life who are preparing for adulthood and building their knowledge and character. It is very rewarding."

What makes Jonathan's inheritance even more unusual is that it was the school he attended as a child.

"It has often occurred to me that it is a very odd set up. But a lot of me is tied up in that school. I want to keep it going to the best of my ability because it is part of me and it is part of my history and part of my family's history."

How Norfolk House came to be in his charge is a fascinating story in itself, spanning back 40 years when the school was on the verge of closure.

Its previous female owner ran the school illegally after being declared bankrupt. When this was discovered, she was prosecuted, putting Norfolk House's future was in great jeopardy.

"At the time my half-sister Elizabeth was a

pupil at the school," said Jonathan. "My father and another parent, Horace Osborne, held a meeting with other parents to talk about what to do. Their children were settled. They were enjoying the school. And so my father and Horace decided to buy it just to keep it going for the kids."

Neither of the two men had any experience of running a school. Jonathan's father was a solicitor with his own practice based in the Black Country and Horace ran a furniture store in Bearwood.

"It was blood, sweat and tears," said Jonathan, who lives in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire.

"It was a labour of love. My father would go into the school at 7am before going to the offices and after he finished and during the weekends, doing maintenance himself.

"Because it was a business that was on the brink of extinction he had to do a lot of the work.

"As the years passed, it became more and more healthy."

Jonathan became a pupil at the school himself in 1979. When he turned 21 he became a director, though had little to do with its management until the death of his father, who passed away aged 84 last April.

"It is not as daunting as it sounds," he said. "I spent a lot of time talking to dad about the place and seeing how he ran it, getting a flavour of the place and meeting the staff.

"I took an interest but it didn't require me to be there regular. Since his death, I do have to be and I thoroughly enjoy it."

Despite owning a school, teaching is not a profession for which Jonathan believes he is cut out.

"I look around our staff and see so many dedicated and gifted people and I don't know whether I could do that," he said.

"It is a very difficult job to do well. I would like to aspire to be a teacher but whether I could, I don't know."

He does, however, have views on how to best shape the citizens of tomorrow.

"We are in a business that is results driven, but as I say year in and year out on school speech night, that isn't the be all and end all.

"We try and create a complete person. If you just gear children up to achieve in exams you are not doing them or anyone else any favours because they are not going to be able to take their full place in the world."

As yet unmarried and without children, Jonathan hopes the school will remain within the Challinor clan.

"I would love it to be in my family for hundreds of years because it is what helped shaped me.

"Without being conceited about it, the pride of being involved in an institution that serves people so well is a real pleasure and it is a pleasure I would like to pass on to future generations."