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Monday, 06 July 2015

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Barrow Chetwynde School looks to future as benefactor steps in

MANAGERS at Chetwynde School say they want to use its boosted bursary fund to become moreaccessible to local families – while also exploring future boarding opportunities.

Chetwynde’s future is secure after it was announced a mystery benefactor, backed by local business owners, is to buy the school and its building for educational use.

It is a dramatic U-turn from eight weeks ago when the governors announced the Barrow private school would close in July because of the falling pupil numbers.

Immediately parents rallied together and the Chetwynde Support Group was formed, launching a rescue bid, and creating a sustainable business plan.

They raised £488,181 of a £500,000 target. A 225-pupil goal for September fell short, but the unnamed benefactor stepped in and will buy the school at its market value.

Cumbria’s league table-topping academic school was announced open for business following meetings on Thursday evening with governors, the CSG and the benefactor. Headmaster Russell Collier said: “I speak for the staff, parents and pupils in saying how grateful we are that the benefactor had the confidence in the plan, the incoming governing body and the Chetwynde community as a whole and felt this was something that had to be saved.

“It’s a wonderful gesture and a desire in their eyes to ensure the best performing school in Cumbria remains within Barrow. They feel it’s right for the community as a whole that the area maintains a high performing independent school.”

Mr Collier thanked all those who have supported the school, especially the staff for “maintaining their professionalism throughout.” He said what CSG achieved in a short time was “unbelievable”.

Dr Simon Mardel, a parent of two pupils and a CSG member, said: “It’s an incredible feeling, but also the feeling this has been done properly.

“There was frustration that something so good and so unique could be lost. That frustration was turned into focused energy. There was amazing team work using expertise extending way beyond the support group.”

The school remains a charity and an independent fee paying school. Fees stay the same, but associated costs, such as uniform and school outings, are being addressed. In September numbers are to be close to 225 and there will be minor changes to staffing.

Chetwynde’s bursary fund has been boosted by around £150,000 from benefactors, so more local children can benefit through the means tested scheme.

Mr Collier said: “It will open what the school has to offer for a wider audience, and an audience which may not have felt Chetwynde was an option for them, when now it could well be. A range of bursaries can be awarded which can be very substantial. Parents can still apply for September.”

The school is looking at potentially widening its catchment area to Kendal and Windermere and next summer the day school hopes to run a pilot six-week summer school for boarding international students.

Mr Collier also said: “One of the options to be explored will be the possibility of adding a permanent boarding element to the school.”

Within the next week the transitional governing body is expected to replace the governors.


Chetwynde hosts an open day on June 16 from 10am to 3pm.

Have your say

I don't think anyone is disputing there are other good options out there. I attended st Bernard's and BSF many moons ago with excellent results, the point is these parents wanted the school to stay open as their preferred option to educate their children. Some are able and prepared to pay for that choice, some are probably working hard beyond their means to have that option. The negative remarks here are as sad as our school day playground banter about Chetwynde being for snobs. Time to grow up. Hope the children continue to be happy there and hooray that Barrow still has a varied educational landscape...

Posted by Steve on 9 June 2012 at 10:27

I'm so sorry James but your blinkered vision does not see beyond the gates at Rating Lane. There are excellent schools out there if you just look. UVHS is one of them with an outstanding sixth form attached. Every student from this institution applying to do medicine this year has received an offer. Barrow Sixth Form College is also a fantastic place of achievement. I'm sure BAE and Glaxo are not looking at the movements within Chetwynde to guide them in their decision making also. If you want a school and sixth form with traditional values aswell as a strong tradition of getting their pupils to some of the top universities then choose Lancaster Royal Grammar School and Lancaster Girls Grammar School. I'm with you David!

Posted by another reader on 31 May 2012 at 16:36

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