Home   Folkestone   News   Article

Shock school closure announced

Parents are in turmoil after receiving letters telling them their children's school has been closed.

The letters, which arrived by private courier between 8pm and midnight, said Westbrook House Preparatory School, in Shorncliffe Road, Folkestone has shut - leaving more than 100 pupils with no school to go to in September.

The shock announcement came completely out of the blue, but it has since been revealed that management team were aware it was going under due to lack of funds.

The school was for children aged two to 11, with fees costing from £450 a term for two mornings a week in the nursery, to just under £3,000 a term for Year Six pupils, aged 10 and 11.

One parent, who did not want to be named, said: "Some families have gone on holiday and will return to find their child doesn’t have a school to go to in September.

"The local primary schools have already allocated places for the next school year and all that is left will be places that no-one wants. There’s no way we will get our children into the good primary schools. We feel let down."

Peter Bettley, spokesman for Folkestone businessman Roger De Haan, who was chairman of governors, said the school – which had just 68 pupils - was running at a loss and was facing losses of half a million pounds next year. He said Mr De Haan had subsidised the school, to the tune of £4 million since 2002, but didn’t feel he could continue to do so.

Mr Bettley said: "The number of pupils was not viable, but if there had been any indication of the possibility of closure parents might have made alternative provision and this would have made the school even less viable.

"There were 68 pupils for September, when in the past there have been hundreds. With the circumstances we have at the moment people are watching their budget and it has been difficult to recruit new children to the school.

"Over the last three years there have been times when it has seemed the school might break even, but it hasn’t. Roger gave notice he was withdrawing his subsidy. He has been incredibly supportive to the school and his commitment to education in Folkestone remains undiminished."

With their closure letters parents were given information packs about the private Dover College, where places are being promised, also offering a free bus service from Westbrook House to Dover.

However, the mother-of-two we spoke to said: "I cannot send my three-year-old on a minibus to Dover each day and with my five-year-old I’ve tried Sandgate Primary, my nearest school, but there are no places there and they have already had phone calls from other mums who are also in a complete panic."

Westbrook House was established in the forties and Roger De Haan himself is a former pupil. The former Saga chairman sponsors the Folkestone Academy.

Up until around 10 years ago it shared the same building as Dover College, in Shorncliffe Road.

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More