Reigate's threatened Dunottar School for Girls has been saved – with a co-ed make-over.
The 87-year-old school in High Trees Road, which had been under threat of closure because of falling school numbers over recent years, was this week declared “saved, secure and now welcoming boys.”
Last week, the school's Board of Governors said it was looking at options for the school's future but had selected educational charity United Learning as the school's new owner, subject to contracts being agreed and signed.
This week, the charity said the school had, as of last Friday (February 28), become a member of United Learning, alongside others across the country, including Guildford High School, Surbiton High School and Caterham School.
The announcement that the school's future is now “guaranteed for at least ten years” has ended weeks of uncertainty for parents.
They formed an action group, Dunottar Voice, made up of parents, staff, pupils and alumni, and mounted a campaign to save Dunottar after the school's Board of Governors announced in January that it was opening a consultation on the closure of the school.
And from September this year, Dunottar will welcome boys into Years 7, 9 and its Sixth Form.
United Learning group chief executive Jon Coles, said: “We are so proud to welcome Dunottar School into our Group.”
He said: “It is a wonderful independent school with significant potential. As well as being academically excellent, the value its education adds in improving the performance and ability of all its pupils is truly exceptional.”
He continued: “Over the past few weeks, we have been hugely impressed by the remarkable achievements of the school’s community in rallying round to save it. “We have been overwhelmed by the support they have shown us since we became involved and we are very excited about Dunottar’s future in our group.”
Mr Coles added: “One of the first suggestions we made in talking to those around the school was whether we should open it to boys, and we have been so struck by the demand for this that we are opening admissions into three year groups from this September.
“There is a real momentum about Dunottar School which we will continue to build on. “Those who haven’t visited it lately should come along and see for themselves why we are so pleased and proud to welcome it into United Learning.”
A spokeswoman for Dunottar Voice said: “We are all absolutely delighted that United Learning has seen the potential in our school, that we have always known was there. “Our daughters have benefited from all the care and support that this special environment offers and many parents are excited that their sons will now be able to benefit from this as well.”
She added: “Throughout the consultation period we have marvelled at the professionalism and dedication of the school's staff, and they as a team have stated their own eager anticipation at being part of the United Learning Group, with the professional development and wider opportunities for sharing best practice that it offers.
"This process has been very hard on everyone involved, and yet it has also brought us together as a community, and now the alumni, parents, staff and current pupils have a renewed pride and passion in the school."
Dunottar School, which is holding an open week this week, where families interested in sending their children to the school are welcome to visit during the school day, is to hold additional open mornings this Saturday (March 8) and Tuesday, March 18, from 10.30am to noon.
Families interested in visiting the school should contact Sue Edwards on 01737 761 945 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org Dunottar School, an independent school, was established in 1926, and became a charitable trust in 1961. United Learning, founded in 1884, is a group of independent fee-paying schools and state-funded academies across the country.