White House School will close despite rescue planBy Victoria Smith
April 05, 2012
A preparatory school will close due to a fall in pupil numbers after parents and governors failed to agree on a rescue package.
White House School in Finchampstead Road will close at the end of the summer term, despite both parties coming up with ideas on how to save the school.
The parent group launched a bid to save White House last month after governors announced the economic downturn meant fewer parents could afford to send their children to the school.
Plans to bridge funding gap could save White House School
The parents had secured loans of £450,000, gathered donations of £25,000, identified short-term savings and fee increases to stabilise the school and come up with ideas to increase pupil numbers.
Parent Harriet Chappell said: “Every parent is passionate about the school and the environment it provides for the children.
“We have worked very hard to generate significant funding and formulate robust plans to secure the future of the school, and we’re bitterly disappointed and bewildered that these plans have been rejected by the governors.
“We cannot understand why a school with a 120-year history and such an outstanding academic and nurturing reputation can be allowed to close under these circumstances.”
Governors had suggested the charitable trust that owns the school site could retain the facility, while parents would be responsible for running the school.
However parents could not agree to this suggestion.
A spokesman for the governors defended the decision to close the school, saying governors were “baffled” parents had rejected their plan.
He said: “The governors were very grateful for all the time and energy the parents put in – they came forward with some interesting ideas and proposals, which although they weren’t considered sufficiently robust by our advisors, were clearly backed with great determination.
“We were baffled and disappointed when the parents rejected out of hand our offer to let them take on the running of the school to put their plan into action.
“The framework offered was closely modelled on that used to rescue a nearby school recently – it was both feasible and deliverable within the time frame.”
Pupil numbers at the school have fallen to 80 this year, although capacity is for 120 children.
The White House is listed as the top preparatory school in Wokingham, and nationally in the top 40 by the Sunday Times.
It was commended as outstanding by the Independent Schools Inspectorate.