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Tuesday, 07 July 2015

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Barrow Chetwynde School saved

A BARROW school threatened with closure has been saved.

RESCUE MISSION: Chetwynde School headteacher Russell Collier, centre, with some of his pupils and supporters. JON GRANGER REF: 50031792B000

In a dramatic move it has been announced that Chetwynde School will remain open and start a new academic year in September.

Since the announcement of closure was made in March a rescue effort was launched by the Chetwynde Support Group, children, parents, and staff, working with the governing body.

The support group faced raising £500,000 and securing 225 pupils to ensure the immediate viability of the school and put a business plan in place.

They all but reached their financial target, raising £488,181 but pupil numbers fell short.

It looked like the school would still have to close, until a dramatic twist earlier this week when a mystery benefactor – backed by local business owners – emerged to offer to buy the school.

The school buildings and grounds are now being sold to that benefactor.

A £50,000 donation has also boosted the school’s bursary fund to £140,000 meaning it can attract more pupils. With the school saved, the governing body are set to step down and be replaced by a new group drawn from the Chetwynde Support Group.

A statement by the Chetwynde Support Group, issued to parents, teachers and supporters said: “In the 24 hours since the last communication we have received important details and additional offers that put us a in a different place. In terms of finance and longer term educational security of pupils they carry us over a crucial threshold.

“The offers are as follows:

“The purchase of the school buildings and land for educational purposes (with conditions that clearly offer long term advantage to the school).

“A further gift of £50,000 into the bursary fund which – in addition to the monies raised so far – will bring more pupils to the school.

“Putting these into the financial model that underpins the business plan, they allow us to proceed confidently with our long term plan to ensure success of the school with viable numbers.

“In order to declare the school open the CSG now confirms its intention to accept the offer to replace the current governing body at the earliest opportunity; support the headmaster in maintaining educational quality; use our new network of marketing skills and the parent body to support a dynamic campaign of recruitment; support the school in promoting and fast tracking the bursary system.

“With regards to pupils and parents who have left, it is essential that the school’s vast social and sporting networks are continually fostered and encouraged.

“Networking among pupils past and present has always been part of the Chetwynde ethos and it will continue.

“The trauma of the last eight weeks to pupils, parents, teachers and governing body must be understood and acknowledged. The commitment and generosity shown has not only been outstanding: it now allows us all to move forward.”

The school is planning an open day on June 16 and details of bursary opportunities will be announced.

Have your say

In defence of Catherine Thompson (who I have never met)I don't think she is the naive one here. The Charities Commission gives facts and figures without comment. The ages 3 to 18 is quite a wide span and for there to be only about 180 children (as at the time of the deadline apparently) to fill it will be challenging to say the least!!

Posted by Bystander on 6 June 2012 at 14:02

Obviously everyone with any connection to the school is incredibly happy that the school is staying open and we must thank the CSG for everything they have done for the school!

Catherine Thompson, I think it is very naive to think that none of what you have said will have been taken into account. If it was not thought the school could be self sustaining after its reopening, then surely it would be pointless trying to save it in the first place.

Posted by Ex Pupil on 31 May 2012 at 20:44

View all 14 comments on this article

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