‘Excellent’ private school could close this summer

The hustings at Portsmouth College - from left:  David Carpenter (college governor), Gerald Vernon-Jackson (Lib Dems), Ian McCulloch (Green), Steve Fitzgerald (college teacher and chair), Stephen Morgan (Labour), Kevan Chippindall-Higgin (Ukip) and Penny Mordaunt (Cons)   Picture: Heather Eggelton

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GOVERNORS of a private school in Wickham have launched a consultation into closing at the end of this term due to financial difficulties.

Rookesbury Park School received an excellent inspection in March but with just 70 day pupils and 15 boarders, it can no longer afford to stay open.

Governors of the school say they have tried everything to keep going including an attempt to merge with other schools.

Lord Ben Stoneham, chairman of governors, said: ‘It is a sad day for us to announce this consultation.

‘The staff have given great loyalty and support to the school.

‘We have tried everything possible to keep going but the economic climate is against us, and we do not want to be caught out having to close the school mid-year.’

Thirty years ago Rookesbury Park boasted 250 pupils on its roll with 115 boarders – many of them from service families.

Lord Stoneham said: ‘It’s a small school and things have been quite tight financially for a number of years. With the downturn in the economy and the ongoing decline in pupil numbers we can’t expect a sudden pick-up.

‘We would have liked to merge with another school but that hasn’t proved possible.’

Up to 25 full and part-time staff stand to be made redundant. Current pupils aged between three and 13 would be reallocated to neighbouring private schools.

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