Haywards Heath school announces closure today

Tavistock and Summerhill School pupils at the Bolney Pram Race in 2013
Tavistock and Summerhill School pupils at the Bolney Pram Race in 2013

Tavistock and Summerhill School, in Haywards Heath, has closed today (October 27) due to financial difficulties.

The independent preparatory school and nursery, in Summerhill Lane, today announced its immediate closure.

There are 62 pupils in main school, 55 in the Nursery and a total of 40 staff - some full time, some part time.

Parents and teachers were sent e-mails last night to inform them of the closure.

The Board of Tavistock & Summerhill School said in a statement: ”Over the past five years there have been numerous attempts to secure the long-term future of the school.

“Unfortunately, it has not been possible to attract sufficient pupil numbers to cover on-going overheads and liabilities.

“During this year, a number of alternative management structures had been proposed, all of which have ultimately proved to be unviable.

“This closure is extremely regrettable, and we remain very grateful to the school’s teachers, parent groups, suppliers, contractors and generous benefactors who have supported the school in recent times.”

The Middy reported in 2011 that the school was expected to close due a decrease in the number of pupils but it was saved from closure when a group of parents banded together to form Tavistock Action Group (TAG).

TAG formed a new Board of Governors, drew up a business plan and raised £250,000 to keep the school afloat.

However the school’s accounts show debts have mounted for several years.

Its accounts for the year ending August 2014 show the school had a debt of £890,045.

The school had to pay out large sums of money in 2013 after it lost appeals against rulings concerning eight members of staff who had been made redundant previous to the expected closure in 2011.

Bernadine Burnell, chair of governors at the school, said the school’s priority at the moment is putting parents in touch with local schools which have places available for their children, as quickly as possible.

Pupils at the school have enjoyed taking part in many community events over the years. Pictured is a group of pupils taking part in the Bolney Pram Race in 2013.

Restructuring and advisory firm RSM has recently been assisting the directors and has now been instructed to advise upon the placing of the school into Creditors Voluntary Liquidation.

A creditors’ meeting will be held during November and any creditors who would like to attend or who require further information are advised to contact Alan Caperon at RSM, located at Portland, 25 High Street, Crawley, West Sussex, RH10 1BG.