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Monday, 06 July 2015

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Mystery saviour offers Barrow school last-minute deal

A MYSTERY investor – backed by local business owners – has thrown a threatened school a survival lifeline.

SALVAGE PLAN: Pupils at Chetwynde pitched in to the fight to save the school by wearing Keep Calm and Carry On Chetwynde T-shirts and raising money on a non-uniform day . . . but the school still has an uncertain future HARRY ATKINSON REF: 50033452B001

A target to have parent commitments for 225 pupils to be attending Chetwynde School in September was not achieved by the time of the deadline this week.

But last night an unnamed backer emerged who may be willing to buy the school to save it from closure.

Chetwynde Support Group (CSG) has spent the last eight weeks working tirelessly to save the Barrow private school after the governors announced at the end of March that it would have to close in July because of falling pupil numbers.

CSG created a new sustainable business model which gained the support of the bank, and led to a fundraising drive which raised £488,181 of the £500,000 required to keep the school afloat.

But by Tuesday’s cut-off point for parents returning any last standing-order mandate forms, not enough pupils had been confirmed to allow CSG to take its plans forward.

In a statement CSG said: “Following the deadline put in place by the Chetwynde Support Group and headmaster Russell Collier the CSG unfortunately do not have the mandate of the parents to step forward as the new governing body, and are unable to reverse the original decision made regarding the school.

“However a positive offer to purchase the school land and buildings has come forward from a new investor, backed by a consortium of local business owners, to retain Chetwynde as a school. This offer is currently under discussion with the existing governing board.

“We would like to thank everyone for their fantastic support to date, further communications regarding the donations and updates on the current position will follow as detail emerges.”

The decision of what happens to the school is now back with the board of governors.

A spokesperson for Chetwynde’s board of governors said: “The governing body are aware of the possibility of a mystery buyer for the school. We will be meeting this evening (Thursday) to discuss this further.

“As a governing body we have a duty, and are keen, to consider any credible possibilities for securing the long-term future for the school.”

Chetwynde has 287 pupils from kindergarten to sixth form, and 78 full and part-time staff.

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

When the closure announcement was made parents immediately contacted other schools in a rush for places. Cumbria County Council, the local education authority, received 177 applications for children now at Chetwynde.

Places have been offered and parents have until June 1 to decide if they want to accept the places.

A spokeswoman for the council said: “The Local Authority has been in regular communication with the Chetwynde Support Group to ensure that children and young people are offered a school place should the final decision to close Chetwynde independent school be taken.

“Places have been offered across the Barrow and South Lakeland area in line with parental preference as far as possible.”


Have your say

Is that with or without the RN's Childrens Education Allowance of up to six grand a term?

Posted by Bystander on 29 May 2012 at 16:45

John, people are not saying that Chetwynde parents work hard but if you have 2 children there you must be paying at least £15,000. That's a lot of money, some people don't even make that in a year. So I would put you slightly higher than 'working class'. This is why the school is struggling to attract new children from Barrow - people don't have that sort of money spare.

Posted by mark on 26 May 2012 at 12:37

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