Battle is on to save White House School
March 14, 2012
A campaign to save a Wokingham school has been launched by parents, governors and staff after it was announced the economic downturn could force it to close.
Falling pupil numbers has led staff at the White House School in Finchampstead Road to announce the independent preparatory school is under threat.
However, the school community’s enthusiasm to save White House could safeguard its future.
Parents are putting together a proposal that could keep the school open and governors are to consider the plan this week, with further information expected to be released soon.
Just months ago White House was placed in the top 40 independent schools in the country by The Sunday Times, but now staff are fighting for its future after the economic downturn hit parents struggling to pay school fees of around £9,000 a year.
Governors had been in merger talks with Waverley School in Finchampstead, which itself was saved from closure by parents and the CfBT education trust last year, but these broke down two weeks before White House announced it could close.
White House has also explored becoming a free school, although governors found the funding available would not safeguard the school’s future.
A statement from the school said: “The situation facing White House Preparatory School is a serious one.
“However it is evident that both governors and parents will work actively together on a number of options that would allow the school to remain open.”
White House has been teaching children in Wokingham for more than 100 years.
Last year pupils and staff celebrated an ‘outstanding’ judgement from Ofsted.
However pupil numbers have fallen to 80 this year, even though the capacity is for 120 children.
One parent, who asked not to be named, said: “I’m really pleased that parents now have the opportunity to work with the staff and governors to explore ways to save the school from closure.
“The response from parents at last week’s meeting was amazing!
“There’s a lot of energy and expertise to harness, and parents have been busy with meetings over the weekend.
“We will hear the outcome of these discussions soon.
“White House School is such a wonderful place for children to learn.
“As you’ve already reported, the school does do well academically, has outstanding inspection reports, and ranks highly in national tables.
“However, just as important to me, as a parent, are those things that are not so easy to measure.
“The school has a real family feel, something that is regularly commented on when new families join our school from elsewhere.
“The teachers and support staff are fantastic; it’s clear from all that they do that they genuinely care about the children in the school.”
Wokingham Borough Council confirmed last week it had received enquiries from parents of children at White House about places at other primaries in the borough from September.