An historic Catholic day and boarding school for girls in Dorset announced that it has closed permanently with immediate effect.
On Wednesday, St Mary’s school in Shaftesbury said on social media that it had gone into administration. “We wish all our girls every success for the future, and thank them for making this such a happy school,” the statement said. “‘Be seekers of truth and doers of justice’, wherever you go.”
In a letter sent out to students, the board of governors explained that the closure was a result of the school’s finances being “wiped away” by the coronavirus pandemic.
The school had been operating at a loss for some time and had suffered a significant financial setback in June, when a sale agreed with a Chinese-based education company collapsed over “political tensions”, the letter said.
The former convent school was founded by the Sisters of Loreto in 1945 and has been one of the highest performing independent schools in Dorset. The school provided girls aged nine to eighteen with a Catholic education which included regular Mass attendance and annual spiritual retreats.
Since the announced closure, a GoFundMe page has been set up to try and save the school, which has so far raised £15,000.
The fundraiser is being organised by Lucy Blyth who wrote on the page: “I have just received confirmation that if we can raise £1.5 million minimum, we can save St Mary’s Shaftesbury from being closed.
“Anyone who has attended this school or been linked with it, will be aware of what an incredible environment it is, for allowing girls to achieve their absolute best.
“My thoughts (along with everyone who has contacted me) are what can we lose? St Mary’s has been highly influential in so many of our lives that to see it disappear overnight without trying to pull out all the stops, seems unthinkable.
“We have 75 years worth of alumnae and £1.5million in the grand scheme of things doesn’t seem unachievable (if divided up between us), especially to what I’m sure we agree is such a remarkable and unique school and community.”
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