Brighton school to close subsidiary

Posted On 10 Mar 2020 at 7:02 pm

A Brighton school is to close a subsidiary school at the end of the summer term.

Roedean, the independent girls’ school on Brighton seafront, is to shut Roedean Moira House, in Eastbourne, where financial losses were said to have become unsustainable.

Moira House, founded in 1875, became part of the Roedean group of schools just over two years ago, adding £2.3 million to Roedean’s balance sheet.

Much of this related to the value of the school buildings in Upper Carlisle Road, in the Meads area of Eastbourne. The school moved to Eastbourne in 1887.

Roedean head Oliver Blond said in his weekly review: “You will have heard, no doubt, of Roedean Council’s decision to close our partner school Roedean Moira House after two and a half years of our committed and passionate work.

“I have spent two days with colleagues working closely with the very sad and distraught families and children of the school.

“It is a very sad day for Roedean Moira House and for Roedean too. For me, personally, there is no worse thing in this role than seeing educational opportunities closed.

“We will continue to support each and every family to the best of our abilities.”

Roedean Moira House said: “It is with great sadness and regret that we announce that Roedean Moira House School will be closing at the end of the current academic year.

“Since joining the Roedean Group of Schools in 2017 everyone has been committed to developing the provision and providing an outstanding education for the girls.

“While we have seen great improvements in the facilities, additional co-curricular opportunity and excellent academic results, it remains difficult to sustain the school with declining numbers.

“The school has exhausted all available avenues to try to find an alternative to closing but current revenue levels mean that we face financial losses that we cannot sustain.

“We have received several bids from investors which we have pursued as far as possible but these have not led to a solution that we are able to accept.

“Our partnership with Roedean has enabled us to secure the funding to meet all running and closure costs to allow Roedean Moira House to operate until the end of the summer term, thereby creating an ordered, solvent wind down.”

Roedean School

Roedean Moira House chair of governors Andrew Pianca said: “It is with great sadness and regret that we have taken the difficult decision to close Roedean Moira House.

“Our legal advisers tell us it is the only route available to us.

“We will do our very best to care for the pupils, staff and parents of our community in the coming days and weeks.

“The head master and his team of senior staff will meet individually with parents to discuss how to ensure their daughters make the best possible transition to the right future school.”

Former pupils at Roedean Moira House include actress Prunella Scales, author Rumer Godden and Brexit campaigner Gina Miller, who took the government to court twice and won twice.

As a result of the first Miller case Parliament was given a vote to decide whether to trigger “article 50”, the legal measure that formally started the process of Brexit – Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU).

Her second victory – last year – gave MPs a vote on whether to prorogue Parliament so that a general election could take place.

Gina Miller

Roedean previously closed St Mary’s Hall, in Brighton, in 2009. St Mary’s Hall, founded in 1836, was the second oldest girls’ school in the country at the time.

The school, in Eastern Road, Brighton, had debts of almost £2 million and had suffered losses in four of the previous five years.

In 1990 St Mary’s Hall had more than 400 pupils – and three years ago Roedean Moira House, where fees are up to £11,500 a term, had more than 300 pupils.

Roedean, where fees are up to £40,000 a year, was founded in 1885, and has about 600 pupils.

The Roedean group includes Deepdene, in Hove.

The most recent accounts filed with the Charity Commission said that it recorded an operating surplus of more than £3 million on income of almost £16 million in the year to August 2018.

It also has a trading company, Roedean School Enterprises, which made £152,000 on turnover of almost £500,000. The surplus was donated to Roedean.

The school, which has almost 120 acres of grounds, provides hundreds of bursaries a year and works with other local schools such St Mark’s.

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