In a shocking turn of events, Belmont School, a Surrey-based independent school with a 143-year history, announced its permanent closure just days before Christmas, leaving the community in deep distress.
The school, located near Dorking, has been a significant educational institution with around 200 places catering to both boarders and day pupils. However, a decline in the number of full-fee paying students, coupled with higher interest rates and escalating operating costs, has led to an insurmountable financial crisis, sealing the fate of Belmont School.
Head of Belmont School, Marc Broughton, expressed his sorrow, stating, "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. 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."
The Chair of Governors, Andrew Baker, acknowledged the efforts made by the Belmont community to rescue the school, emphasizing the incredible spirit and unity within the Belmont family. Despite these valiant attempts, a viable solution to sustain the school could not be found.
Belmont School had previously initiated a rescue plan in 2019, attempting to stave off insolvency by expanding its age range. However, this move did not prove sufficient to secure the institution's financial stability. The school now finds itself in a challenging situation, as pupils ranging from three to 16 years old will need to seek alternative educational placements.
The school cited an eight-month delay in the completion of the Aquileon building as a significant factor that further strained its finances. This delay not only impacted on the school's budget but also hindered marketing efforts to attract new students and potential investors. Additionally, recent disputes over final costs with the construction firm have escalated to adjudication and subsequent litigation.
As the community grapples with the sudden closure of Belmont School, the immediate concern is focused on finding suitable alternative educational options for the affected students. The closure serves as a stark reminder of the financial challenges faced by educational institutions, especially in the current economic climate.
Edited by: Victoria Muzio
Photo credits: RDNE Stock Project
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