Planned closure of Walden School, founded as a Quaker school 315 years ago
Trustees of Friends’ School Saffron Walden, which was rebranded last year as Walden School, are proposing to close it at the end of the summer term on 7 July. Staff and parents were informed of this on 10 May via meetings and written correspondence.
There will now be a collective consultation period with staff. During this time the school will continue to consider options, but unless a viable way forward for the school is found through this process, it will close.
An approach has been made to the Department of Education regarding the future of the school building and site, with a hope to re-envision the spirit and intention of George Gibson’s nineteenth century bequest ‘for the education and benefit of the community’ in Saffron Walden.
Susan Garratt, chair of governors, said: ‘It is with great sadness that we announce the proposed closure of Walden School. Like many independent schools across the country, especially smaller ones, we have found conditions to be extremely challenging over recent years due to a highly competitive local market. This has been compounded by the recent economic downturn resulting in a continued decline in pupil numbers.
She added: ‘Friends should know that our decision has not been at all easily reached, or hastily taken.’ Trustees had looked at a range of options to keep the school open ‘but unfortunately none were achievable’.
Susan Garratt said: ‘The education and welfare of our pupils has always been our primary concern and we will be working with the local authority and other schools in the area to help find alternative options for the children. We would like to thank all parents, staff and trustees who have supported the school over many years. We ask that people consider the strain and emotions that the current pupils, their families and the staff of Walden School will be experiencing at this challenging time.’
The board of governors and senior management team will be holding meetings with parents and staff to address their concerns and provide advice and support.
Walden School, which is a charitable trust, was originally set up as a Quaker school 315 years ago and has occupied its current site on Mount Pleasant Road since 1879.
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