Putney Park parents and students scramble for school places
7:00am Thursday 7th March 2013 in News
Forty teachers and 130 students are desperately scrambling to find a new school after 60-year-old Putney Park announced it is to close this summer.
Parents were informed by email of the decision last week that means scores of students are facing uncertainty and instability at a key stage of their academic life.
This week, many classes have been bereft of students as parents search with their children for other schools in the hope of finding them a new place. The school’s managing director Brian Tweedie-Smith, whose aunt Jean set up the school in 1953, cited the economic downturn and dwindling student numbers as the cause of the closure.
But parents poured scorn on those claims and said they are not going to give up fighting for their children’s school.
Putney Park’s buildings, based in Woodborough Road, have housed the school since 1956.
It consists of four Edwardian houses thought to be worth in excess of £6m, although the value would soar beyond £10m if turned into residential flats.
Ian Moody, a disgruntled parent, said: “It goes to show that he [Mr Tweedie-Smith] is only interested in getting as much as he can when he is letting down groups of young children, who are half-way through their education.”
One angry mother, who did not want to be named, said: “We are hoping to push for a stay of execution and are going to pressure the board to keep the school open for another year to allow students and teachers to find alternatives.”
There is also the possibility it could become a free school and a steering group has been set up by parents to examine alternatives.
The official closure date is July 4 but Jan Black, headteacher of the upper school, said the entire school was united in wanting it to remain open.
She said: “We are furious, because we can’t really understand why it is happening.
“There are lots of options that could have been considered and we would like to have been consulted.
“It is going to be an absolute nightmare for parents and for the pupils.”
Lauren Hubbard, Rachel Lawrence and Frankie Crookes, all year 9 students, said: “We are all struggling to find the right place to get the right education.
“Year 10, especially, are finding it all very tricky as they are half through their GCSEs.
“So everyone is devastated about the sudden closure of the perfect school.”
Brian Tweedie-Smith, managing director of Putney Park, said: “The directors are extremely disappointed that the school is likely to close, however, we are grateful for the support from parents, staff and local schools.
“We will ensure the smoothest possible transition for the pupils to their next stage of education from September 2013.”