Page last updated at 12:51 GMT, Friday, 12 February 2010

Recession 'hits private school'

Pupil writing
At least 12 private schools are reported to have closed since last January

Another small private school has been closed because of falling roll numbers its owners say are linked to the recession.

Cliff School in Wakefield, ran by private school chain the Alpha Plus Group, is closing the school in July.

Pupil numbers are said to have fallen from 180 to 134 making its long term future unsustainable.

It is one of 21 small independent schools reported to have closed or been merged since January 2009.

Last week another small school in Sheffield, Brantwood School, said it would be closing unless additional funds could be found.

'At the margins'

In a statement, the Alpha Plus Group said: "The economic downturn has undermined our efforts to increase the numbers in the school and despite the outstanding efforts of the head and his staff and the significant investment that has been made in the school, its continuing operation is not sustainable educationally, socially and financially.

"The school will close at the end of the summer term in July of this year and will continue to provide the very highest standard of education until then.

"We are actively supporting our parents and working with schools in the area to find suitable alternative school places for the children."

The group said no other schools in its profit-making educational chain were affected by the down-turn.

The chief executive of the Independent Schools Council, David Lyscom, said the majority of independent schools were weathering the recession well.

Pupil census

He said many well-known private schools were seeing record numbers of pupils, but he acknowledged that "some schools at the margins may be seeing a downturn in numbers".

"We would expect there to be some pressure caused by the recession but it's not severe," he said.

Most schools would be able to absorb changes to pupil numbers within their overall budgets, he added.

There had been reports that private schools would be closing every week but this had not materialised with only a handful being affected, he added.

In any normal year around five independent schools closed, he said.

The ISC is due to publish the results of its census of pupils in independent education in April.

According to the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, 12 small independent schools have closed since January 2009 and nine have been merged with others.

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