High hopes for future of Reigate's Dunottar School

Reigate's threatened Dunottar School for Girls looks set for a new lease of life under a new owner.

The 87-year-old school in High Trees Road, which was facing closure because of falling numbers, now looks set to be turned into a co-ed school, and to go over to a new owner, educational charity United Learning.

Action group, Dunottar Voice, which launched last month to fight the prospect of the school closing, threw its support behind a plan put forward by the charity.

And after what the group called a “marathon meeting” recently, the school's Board of Governors debated the options for the school's future and concluded by selecting United Learning as the school's new owner, subject to contracts being agreed and signed.

Dunottar Voice leader John Godden said: "We are of course delighted.”

He said: “It has been a very intense few weeks and we are very grateful to the Board for bringing their deliberations forward, so that we could get an answer at the beginning of half -term, a critical decision-making time for both parents and teachers. “We have spent an amount of time with United Learning and are very confident of their ability to bring our school back to its full strength."

Jon Coles, chief executive of United Learning, said: "We are delighted to be progressing our involvement with Dunottar School.”

He said: “Over the past few weeks it has become clear to us that Dunottar School has a viable future as a successful school within United Learning. “We are grateful both to the governors of Reigate Grammar School for their willingness to open discussions with us, and to Dunottar Voice, whose commitment to the future of their school is admirable. “We look forward to working with them, staff and other families across the school community, as we finalise how we bring what is already an academically excellent school into our group."

Alan Walker, chairman of the school's board of governors, said: "The consultation process has brought a number of proposals to the table that would allow the school to remain open. “Being able to give parents, pupils and staff reassurances before our original deadline of March 13 is very pleasing."

Over the next two weeks, the governors, working closely with Dunottar Voice, will undertake due diligence and contractual discussions with the prospective owner.

Dunottar Voice was set up in response to the announcement by the Board of Governors of Dunottar School in January that it was opening a consultation on the closure of the school because of falling numbers of pupils over recent years.

A meeting of nearly 200 parents and supporters of the school earlier this month voted unanimously in support of United Learning's proposal that boys be admitted to the school from September 2014 into Years 7 and 9, and also the sixth form. Dunottar School, an independent school, was established in 1926, and became a charitable trust in 1961. United Learning is a group of independent fee-paying schools and state-funded academies across the country.

Founded in 1884, schools within the group include Guildford High School and Surbiton High School.

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