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Norwich independent school could close after pupil numbers fall, parents warned

PUBLISHED: 17:07 24 March 2018 | UPDATED: 09:04 25 March 2018

Children pictured at the Stretton School in Norwich. Picture: Stretton School

Children pictured at the Stretton School in Norwich. Picture: Stretton School

Archant

An independent school in Norwich with almost 50 years of history could close as pupil numbers fall.

The Stretton School, pictured in 1990. Picture: Archant archiveThe Stretton School, pictured in 1990. Picture: Archant archive

The Stretton School, an independent nursery and preparatory school on Albermarle Road, has told parents it could close in July, with staff consultations ongoing.

In early February, it was announced that headmistress Anita Barclay, the daughter of school founder Yvonne Barnett, would be stepping down from the role after 15 years at the school, to take up a role as the head of pre-prep at the Norwich School.

In a letter to parents written later that month, school proprietor Malcolm Barnett said there had been a period of change since Mrs Barnett died at the end of 2016.

“As time has progressed I am now in a position where I, together with my brother, have been able to properly assess the running of the school and the needs of its pupils and parents,” he said.

“I am sure you have noticed that the school has fewer pupils than it has enjoyed in previous years, and, particularly with the opening of the Norwich School Pre-Prep, in all likelihood those pupil numbers will continue to fall.”

He said, coupled with the school’s high running costs, it made it “increasingly unviable”.

He said the school was in consultation with staff on ways to avoid closure, but said “the closure of the school is a possibility” at the end of the summer term.

The school educates children aged 12 months up to seven years, and was given a glowing report from the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) in June last year.

In the first inspection since the death of its founder, inspectors said: “Self-assured pupils of all ages display high levels of confidence and self-esteem, able to tackle challenges and determined to improve their work.

“Perseverance is a watch-word for staff and pupils, who recognise that the best rewards are often hard-won.”

At the time of the inspection, the school had 97 pupils on roll.

The Norwich School is expanding its provision to include the pre-prep age range - children from reception up to year two - with children to be housed in new facilities within the existing Lower School on Bishopgate.


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