One of England’s leading Catholic fee-paying schools has announced this week that its preparatory school faces closure.
St Martin’s Ampleforth, which is the stand alone preparatory school for Ampleforth College in north Yorkshire, said in a statement on Monday that it was consulting with parents and teachers on a proposal to “close the Pre-Prep and Years 2 to 5 and integrate the remaining years into the Ampleforth College site”.
“This will run from Year 6 upwards for the next academic year and Year 7 upwards thereafter”, it said. The proposal would mean closing the whole school by September 2018.
The Tablet understands that falling numbers of young boarders – a national trend in private prep-schools – has made the running of St Martin’s unviable.
A spokesperson from St Laurence Education Trust that governs St Martin’s said: “A comprehensive review has given us the insight we needed to find the best way forward for the pupils and staff of St Martin’s. We believe these proposals will address concerns raised by parents in the past, while keeping the things that make St Martin’s special.”
The school said the proposals would be refined in consultation with parents and children and stressed that all future plans would “reflect the incredibly positive feedback on [Headmaster] Dr David Moses’ leadership and the pastoral care he, his wife Clare and all the staff offer to each child at the school”.
The news of St Martin’s closure comes at a difficult time for Ampleforth. In November, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) heard evidence from former pupils of historic abuse at the Benedictine-run Ampleforth College in the 1960s and 1970s. The cases covered by the IICSA concern events that occurred when the school was under a different management and safeguarding structure.
PICTURE: St Martin's Ampleforth