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Wednesday, 27 August 2014

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18 jobs lost as school to shut

HARECROFT Hall School is to close with the loss of 18 jobs.

The Gosforth school is shutting in July, after nearly 80 years, due to dwindling numbers.

Headmaster and owner, Paul Block, said: “Harecroft has always been a small school but falling numbers mean I have made the decision to close in the best interest of the pupils.

“I have made the decision to close before the situation gets worse. I felt this was fair to pupils, parents and staff.’’ Mr Block said he was “saddened but not surprised’’ at the school’s closure and had taken the “practical and sensible’’ approach to its future.

All staff, including 11 teachers, have been paid to the end of August. A member of staff, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “The staff are very disappointed and demoralised by the closure. We were shocked to receive the news on Friday, but it wasn’t unexpected.’’

Harecroft takes in pupils aged 3-16 years and has seen classes fall from between eight and 12 to four pupils at their lowest. Attempts to boost pupil numbers by recruiting boarders from Hong Kong had proved unsuccessful and the school’s roll-call is now “in the 60s.’’

Small classes, while not detrimental to pupils’ academic education, could affect their social development, Mr Block explained.

The school was established in 1925, but the Hall dates back to 1881 and was formerly the home of the late Sir John Ainsworth.

A meeting was held on Tuesday night at Santon Bridge between parents of Harecroft’s year 4 pupils and upwards and staff from St Bees School, to look into the youngsters transferring to the school.

“We hope that pupils will move on with limited disruption and are making plans that all pupils are correctly placed,’’ Mr Block said.

Philip Capes, headmaster of St Bees School, said: “We have had a long relationship with Harecroft, as it has been our main feeder school.

“It is sad when a school community has to close and we will be doing all we can to help.’’

Mr Block who lives at Harecroft with his wife and four children, two of whom still attend the school, said he wasn’t sure of future plans for the Hall.

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