The headmaster of St Margaret's, an independent school in Exeter, has confirmed that the school will close on 31 August.
At a meeting on Friday afternoon the headmaster, Lee Bergin, informed teachers that the school will close at the end of the current academic year. He has since notified the parents and 290 school pupils of the impending closure.
Bergin told ThisIsExeter "Parents have been informed that the school will be closing on 31 August." and noted that "The closure decision has been taken with a heavy heart."
St Margaret's is part of the Woodard Schools, a group of independent Church of England schools in England and Wales. Asked about the involvement of the Woodard Corporation he said "We've had all sorts of support given from Woodard" and emphasised that "My main function now is to ensure that the girls and boys get their education...We're very sorry that this has happened."
Bergin was unwilling to comment further until an official public announcement, which will be issued on Monday.
A Facebook group, SAVE St. Margaret's School, which was up by concerned parents in April 2012, has already gathered 291 "likes". Former pupil Alison Longhorn commented on the group "Such sad news for those of us who have so many happy memories of this school. Back in the days when I was there it was the perfect haven for kids who were a bit different and the school was hugely supportive of all pupils, no matter what their background."
The school was founded in 1902 and has 290 pupils. Its former head, Sheila Cooper, left in June last year following a period of sick leave. Former deputy, Lee Bergin, was appointed headmaster by the Governors.
The Woodard Corporation was established by Nathaniel Woodard in 1848. It educates some 27,000 pupils a year across both the state and independent sectors.
The Headmistress of The Maynard School in Denmark Road, Exeter, Ms Bee Hughes, said the following when hearing of the news:
“The Maynard School is sad to learn of the pending closure at the end of the academic year of St Margaret’s School which has been such a long standing part of the local independent education community. Our priority is to ensure the on-going education of students of all ages and we will do our utmost to help provide continuity of learning in uncertain times. We will continue to work on providing an excellent, academically rigorous education for our students as we have done for the past 353 years and will naturally support the pupils and staff of St Margaret’s in the transition process.”