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St Christopher's School in Canterbury faces closure after almost 100 years

By Gerry Warren

A £10,000-a-year private school founded almost a century ago is facing closure just months after a damning Ofsted inspection.

Parents of pupils at St Christopher's Independent Day School in New Dover Road, Canterbury, have been told the business will cease trading.

It is understood about a dozen staff have also been made made redundant.

St Christopher's School in Canterbury (3541727)
St Christopher's School in Canterbury (3541727)

But a rescue package is being put together by the St Stephen's Academy, which has formed a new company with other supporters to try to keep the school going.

The academy runs the city's St Stephen's Junior School.

St Stephen's executive head Stuart Pywell is among the team which believes the school could still have a future, albeit probably under a new name.

St Christopher's, which was founded in 1923, is run by St Christopher's School (Canterbury) Ltd, which is owned by headmaster David Evans and his wife Alison.

It had been suffering from dwindling numbers of pupils and was recently rated "inadequate" by Ofsted inspectors.

At the time of the inspection in April it taught 85 children aged between three and 11.

St Stephen's Junior School head Stuart Pywell is helping to lead the rescue package
St Stephen's Junior School head Stuart Pywell is helping to lead the rescue package

Mr Pywell believes it could re-open on the same site if enough parents have the confidence it can provide the quality of education they expect.

"It is a sad situation to see such a long-established school close and we just want to try and see if there is anything we can do for those parents and children to keep it going, using our experience and resources," he said.

"There could also be opportunities for children from the new school to benefit from St Stephen's facilities."

But Mr Pywell admits that as a fee-paying school it will rely on securing sufficient pupil numbers to make it viable.

"The school had financial difficulties and we cannot inherit those," he said. "We will need at least 30 pupils and ideally 50. "

David Evans was headmaster of St Christopher's (3541717)
David Evans was headmaster of St Christopher's (3541717)

Staff being made redundant have been invited for interview with a company called Superbity Ltd, which has been set up to potentially operate the new school.

At present, the new primary is called The New School - not to be confused with the Canterbury New School, which was recently founded to replace the Steiner School at Petham, which closed last year.

Mr Pywell says it is a temporary name as the school may not be able to continue to trade as St Christopher's for legal reasons.

He says all parents have been written to explaining the proposal, which will see the school retain its fee-paying status.

More information is shortly to be posted on a new website.

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