Home   Sheerness   News   Article

Elliott Park private school on Sheppey shuts without warning

Parents have been left in the lurch after a £6,000-a-year private primary school shut without warning.

Elliott Park on the Isle of Sheppey emailed stunned parents at the weekend to say it was now "permanently closed".

Elliott Park private primary school in Marina Drive, Minster
Elliott Park private primary school in Marina Drive, Minster

One shocked mum who had been hoping to send her child to the school in Marina Drive, Minster, said she was "absolutely gutted to find out Elliott Park has gone into liquidation."

She added: "It's an end of an era for Sheppey and its lovely, quaint little school. So so sad for the pupils and staff. I feel so much for all the staff there, the parents who had paid up front and kids with no school to go to next week."

The school, rated 'good' by Ofsted, was set up in 1985 and has taught 668 Island children.

Calls to its switchboard were being routed to voicemail.

Director Stacey Phillips said in a statement: “Regrettably, the directors of the company, having regard for all the circumstances have with heavy hearts reached the extremely difficult decision to cease to trade forthwith.

Elliott Park private primary school in Marina Drive, Minster
Elliott Park private primary school in Marina Drive, Minster

"This is in the face of challenging and prevailing headwinds for all trading entities, not least huge energy price rises, inflation and the cost of living crisis. All of this comes on top of the disruption to the school and the drop in pupil numbers during the pandemic.

"Everyone has worked hard to find a way to keep the school open but the ongoing losses are too high to be sustained. The directors recognise the invidious position this will leave the children, parents and staff in and regret any distress and inconvenience this may cause."

A firm of specialist insolvency practitioners has been engaged to help the directors wind up the company and will be contacting everyone affected in the "near future".

The closure comes eight months after parents Stacey and her husband Ricky took over the school.

Deputy head teacher Vicki Crosby said in May: "Our school was hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic and as a result was sold by its proprietor Tom Allsworth. In January of this year, Ricky and Stacey Phillips acquired the school. Since they took over the school, a new era has truly begun to revive the heart at the centre of Elliott Park.

Closed: Elliott Park School's website
Closed: Elliott Park School's website

"Not only has the school been purchased by new owners, it is also now under new leadership."

Previous headteacher Colleen Hiller retired in March and Mrs Sam Dolman took over. The school has 13 staff, according to its website.

Mrs Crosby added: "Along with these changes, many new exciting developments have begun to take place with the addition of a school bus, new tailored reading schemes to enhance accelerated progress, nursery refurbishment, an exciting new initiative to provide memorable experiences for our pupils, brand new school values and a mission statement." ​

It's motto is 'achieving excellence together'.

The school was founded by the late Richard Fielder with a class of 12 in Sheerness. It moved to its present, purpose-built site, including a head teacher’s house in April 1986.

Publicity folder for Elliott Park school
Publicity folder for Elliott Park school

The school caters for children aged three to 11 and can accommodate up to 70 including its Little Sunbeams nursery.

A spokesman of Kent County Council said: “We have been made aware of the closure of this private school. Some of the parents of pupils there have already been in touch with KCC and our admissions team is providing support and advising on appropriate alternative schools.”

One parent said: "The whole thing is a mess. We heard at 9.13pm on Saturday via email."

According to that email, the school was facing a loss of £11,000 a month - £132,000 a year - and running costs of £25,000. The email said the school already had a "substantial deficit" of more than £50,000 and that the new owners did not have the money to plug the gap.

It added: "We are sorry this sad news must be sent to you by email and also for the timing just before the start of the new school year."

Literature for Elliott Park private primary school
Literature for Elliott Park private primary school

The email said the school’s viability was "already under severe threat" following the loss of six pupils from Year 6 and only three enrolling in Reception class.

It revealed: "During the last two days, we have had confirmation that three more children will not be returning for the new school year because of changes in their personal circumstances. Along with rising utility bills, subscriptions and insurances needed in running the school, this leaves the school 16 pupils short of breaking even."

It said attempts to link with another "school/nursery" had failed and added: "We have chased outstanding fees from leavers but with no success. We sincerely hoped to continue until Christmas to give everyone time to find new schools for their children and new jobs for our wonderful teachers.

"Unfortunately, with the additional loss of three more pupils we simply cannot continue and the school will be going into liquidation next week."

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