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Hundreds bid fond farewell to school

Worcester Editorial 16th Jul, 2014 Updated: 19th Oct, 2016

PAST and present pupils, parents and staff bid an emotional farewell to the city’s only all-girls school when it closed its doors for the final time.

St Mary’s School in Battenhall, which had more than 250 pupils on its books, was placed in administration after being crippled by falling pupil numbers and spiralling costs.

Hundreds of people with a connection to St Mary’s, which was ranked as the top small school outside London in 2012, attended a farewell party at the Mount Battenhall site last Friday (July 11).

Among those included former pupil Rebecca Savvides, who studied at the 80-year-old school between 1984 and 1996.

“It was a really happy place to be and I have made friends for life, so it makes me quite emotional just talking about it really,” she said.

“I recently moved back here from London and I have got a little girl now, so ideally we would have sent her to the nursery, so it is desperately sad that we can’t do that now.”

Rebecca Weston, who was returning to the school for the first time since she left in 2002, and Dawn Gray, whose daughter went to St Mary’s said they were stunned by the news of its closure.

“I have been very upset, especially for my daughter as she absolutely loves it here,” Mrs Gary added.

“I was really surprised, but I suppose it is a business at the end of the day, so if they are losing money and not making any it’s inevitable that something like this is going to happen.”

A last-ditch attempt was made by a parent-led action group to secure the funds needed to keep it open, but the school’s trustees refused their bid, saying their plans did not deal sufficiently with the structural financial issues.

RGS Worcester has offered extra places for pupils from St Mary’s, but Andy McGill, of Smith & Williamson, who were appointed as the administrators of the school, confirmed the majority of it’s 65 members of staff would be made redundant.

“It is always difficult when a school has to close and it has been an extremely difficult period for the trustees, staff, parents and pupils,” Mr Gill said.

“During the last year a great deal of work has been undertaken by the trustees to try to find a buyer for St Mary’s or formulate a long-term rescue plan.

“Unfortunately, given the significant level of funding required together with uncertainty regarding future pupil numbers no viable solution could be found.”

A skeleton staff will remain to provide support in the short term, while Mr Gill said he would be make alternative arrangements with pupils, who sat external examinations, to receive their results in August.

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