Private girls' school in Dorset plunges into administration

Private girls’ school in Dorset with fees from £5,600-a-term plunges into administration and closes with immediate effect after deal with Chinese investors collapses

  • Boarding and day school also said it faced ‘considerable challenges’ in pandemic
  • School for pupils aged nine to 18 closed with immediate effect on Wednesday
  • Board of governors said 40 parties stepped forward but no official offers made
  • A GoFundMe page was created to save school yesterday, raising £15,000 so far

A private girls’ school in Dorset with fees from £5,600-a-term has plunged into administration and closed with immediate effect after a deal with Chinese investors collapsed in June.

St Mary’s Shaftesbury, a Roman Catholic boarding and day school, said it also faced ‘considerable challenges’ following the pandemic.

The school for pupils aged nine to 18 shut permanently on Wednesday after the deal broke down one day before signed contracts were due to be swapped.

A general view of St Mary’s Independent Girls School in Shaftesbury. The private day and boarding school shut permanently on Wednesday after a deal collapsed in June

In a message on its Facebook page, the school announced: ‘St Mary’s Shaftesbury has now permanently closed. 

‘We wish all our girls every success for the future, and thank them for making this such a happy school.

‘”Be seekers of truth and doers of justice”, wherever you go.’

The former convent school’s board of governors said 40 parties stepped forward but no official offers were made before the July 6 deadline, according to Business Live.

They wrote: ‘We have sought every other possible means of getting through the current situation including potential mergers, but without success.

‘Without an investor, the bank is not prepared to extend our credit, and we have other pressing debts to pay.’ 

The former convent school’s board of governors said 40 parties stepped forward but no official offers were made before the July 6 deadline (general view of school entrance, above)

The letter also said the Covid-19 crisis ‘wiped away’ financial progress that had been made over the last few years.

Fees for the school start at £5,600 a term for day pupils in years five and six, £6,950 a term for boarders and £7,350 a term for international boarders.

A GoFundMe page was created to save the school, which was once attended by the Duchess of Cornwall’s daughter Laura Lopes, yesterday.

At the time of writing, £15,000 has been raised of the £1.5million target for the establishment with 118 people donating so far.

One former pupil wrote on the fundraising page: ‘Many wonderful memories at this beautiful school along with lifelong friendships!’

Another person said: ‘My daughter is an ex pupil and had an excellent education in the 90’s’.

A third added: ‘A lot of the best people I know went to this school, and the world needs more of them!’ 

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