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Sunday, 28 December 2014

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New hope for Chetwynde School in Barrow as £500k rescue plan is launched

A LIFELINE was thrown to closure-threatened Chetwynde School last night when a £500k plan was launched to save it.

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DISAPPOINTED: Chetwynde School headmaster Russell Collier

More than 400 people, including staff, governors, parents and pupils past and present, attended an emotionally charged meeting at the school to discuss its future.

And they vowed to do everything in their power to put together a £500k rescue package which would secure the school’s future for another academic year.

It came after the school’s governors yesterday announced it was to close in July, due to falling pupil numbers, and the current economic climate.

During last night’s meeting, arranged by parents, people spoke passionately about the ‘family school’ and offered their time, expertise and skills.

If the cash can be raised, the school will plough its resources and time into working on plans to increase pupil numbers.

It hopes support will come from parents, ex-pupils and businesses.

Some financial backing has already been pledged.

The school has 287 pupils, aged three to 18, but next year this is due to fall to around 250.

Chetwynde, which runs as a charity, said it needed 300 pupils to be viable.

Today Chetwynde, which has one of the best GCSE and A-Level records in Cumbria, was to meet its bank to discuss its plans to raise the capital, and underline the level of support it has.

Victoria Barber-Bolam, an ex-pupil with two children at Chetwynde, who called the meeting, said: “We are a lot more positive than we were, now that the school will be open in September.

“It gives us optimism and drive – and time.

“Nobody wants to leave the school. It’s not so much the donation, it’s getting the numbers up.

“The school is an asset to the town. We need the support from the hospital and from businesses to help drive numbers up.

“It’s not just a school, it’s a family.”

Fellow parent Kay Groundwater, who has one child at Chetwynde, said: “We are all working towards saving the school, that is the plan.

“I feel more positive.”

Headteacher, Russell Collier, said: “We now have the potential to save the school. We have the will, drive and enthusiasm to save it in a very open manner.

“This would buy enough time for the governors, parents and staff to work together on a more sustainable development plan.

“It would get us over this initial hurdle.

“For the future prosperity and development of the area, there needs to be an option of private education.”

Chair of governors, Dr Gerry Murray, a father of a child at Chetwynde, and former pupils, said: “The message from everyone is ‘we do not want this school to close’, and parents pledged to keep their children in the school.

“The income of the school is purely from fees, and the income is not covering the expenditure.

“With the numbers, that situation would get worse and that would be the reason we would not be able to open in September without financial assistance.

“The governors announced the closure. The bank has always been incredibly supportive of us, but we recognised it is unviable.”

Annual fees at Chetwynde are between £7,200 and £8,400.

News broke about the closure of the school on Wednesday when staff were informed about the decision.

Have your say

I went to chetwynde many years ago - my parents struggled to afford the fees- however my education there has Contributed to my success in life and I thank my parents for the sacrifices we made as a family to better my education

Posted by Tracie on 1 May 2012 at 16:33

at the end of the day my kids don't go to private school but we did pay and save more for a house in Barrow in a good school catchment area, is this not a similar thing????

Posted by kev on 16 April 2012 at 20:32

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