Parents in tears as school closes down
Frustration as campaign to keep it open fails
THERE were tears of frustration yesterday (Wednesday) for parents and pupils of Penn School as the decision to close the school permanently became a reality.
Deloitte, which took over the administration for the special needs school after it went into liquidation in July, said discussions with the remaining prospective purchaser have come to a halt.
Mother Amanda Burgess, who has campaigned against the closure, said: “Whatever the future holds for us all, I know we tried our utmost to save the school.
“It is just a real shame the people responsible didn’t do the same two years ago when they should have listened and acted.
“They will have to live with what they have done and the chaos and heartbreak they have caused. I am also disgusted with the lack of support there was from the government, MPs and Bucks County Council to save Penn School.
“This is a loss not just for our children, but for all the future children who will have nowhere to be educated. Just when will this erosion of provision and services for special needs children and adults stop?”
Lee Manning, from Deloitte, said financial, legal and practical hurdles could not be overcome in such a short time frame needed to save the school.
“Everybody involved in the management and funding of Penn School is bitterly disappointed that a sale could not be achieved to preserve the school as a going concern,” he said.
“We hope that the Department of Education, key local authorities and parents will continue to work together to ensure that all the former pupils find suitable schools as soon as possible.”
Bucks County Council have said they will continue work to find placements for children who are from the county.
But for other families, the prospect of finding a school to suit their needs in order for them to start this term remains a daunting prospect.
Parent Stephanie Stacey said: “They have to take parents’ and pupils’ views into account, but it is very hard when the choice may appear to be the placement on offer or no placement.
“Many of the students would do better in a school further away, but that would require boarding and many of the students and their parents don’t want them to board. It’s a catch-22 situation.”
The privately-funded school announced its abrupt closure in July, sparking an online campaign led by parents and teachers.
Since then, the Save Penn School campaign has seen support from all over the world, including former Bucks resident and actor James Corden and radio host Ken Bruce.
Money raised for the campaign will now go to an alternative special needs education provider to be selected at a later date.
Sue Clark, whose 13year-old daughter Rebecca is a pupil, said: “Rebecca has autism and it has taken 12 years for us to find a school which supports her.”
Seventy-one staff redundancies were announced last month.
MP for High Wycombe Steve Baker’s office was contacted but he was not available to comment.