Community devastated as local school announces permanent closure just days before Christmas

Community devastated as local school announces permanent closure just days before Christmas
The private school said governors have faced a number of financial issues including 'falling numbers of full fee-paying parents, higher interest rates and higher operating costs'
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Ben Chapman

By Ben Chapman

Published: 12/12/2023

- 19:31

Updated: 12/12/2023

- 19:44

Belmont School is an independent school near Dorking

A Surrey school has announced its permanent closure after 143 years following a fall in full-fee paying students.

Belmont School is an independent school near Dorking with about 200 places for a mixture of boarders and day pupils.

After dealing with falling numbers of full-fee paying pupils, higher interest rates and increased operating costs, the school confirmed it will close at the end of term.

Marc Broughton, head of Belmont School, said: "It's with a heavy heart that we have contacted the parent body yesterday to confirm the closure of Belmont School on the 15th of December.

Belmont School, SurreyA school in Surrey has announced that it is set to closeGoogle maps

"We have worked tirelessly to exhaust all avenues to find an answer to this situation, but the governing body, Save Belmont team and school leaders have sadly been unable to come up with a viable solution."

Chair of governors Andrew Baker said: "Sadly, we have not been able to find a solution to save Belmont School.

“The rescue plan that was actioned by the Belmont community to try to save the school was a clear demonstration of the incredible spirit and community within the Belmont family and we are indebted to the efforts of so many."

The school made a last-ditch attempt to save itself from insolvency ahead of the pandemic in 2019 by extending its age range.

It now has pupils aged between three and 16 who will all be looking for new places to learn.

The school said: "A significant eight-month delay on the completion of the Aquileon building not only further depleted the school's finances but also made marketing the school particularly difficult both to recruit new pupils and potential investors.

"In addition to this, in recent weeks the school has found itself in dispute over final costs with the construction firm, which has resulted in a claim being taken to adjudication and subsequent litigation."

Speaking ahead of its closure, one parent said the loss would be “devastating”.

Another parent, with children in years seven and nine, said: “Belmont is a magical place. Children are taught to be resilient, polite and develop a passion for learning. They grow up confident in their own skin.”

The school was founded in Blackheath, south-east London, in 1880 and is now located between Dorking and Guildford after moving in 1957.

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