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Cathedral choir school to merge to solve cash crisis

20 July 2012

RIPON Cathedral Choir School is finalising a merger with another independent school, eight miles out of the city, after struggling for several years with financial problems.

The mixed school, which was founded in 1960, currently has 74 pupils, aged between three and 13. Staff and pupils are expected to transfer at the start of the autumn term to the Cundall Manor School, near the village of Helperby.

One parent at Cundall Manor told a local paper: "There was absolutely no consultation with parents. We are disappointed, as we chose the school because it was small. We were only notified about this by email at the end of last week."

The chairman of governors at Cundall Manor, Sir Thomas Ingilby, said that he could understand the concerns, but that they had had to hold the discussions in private. "This has not been signed," he said. "There is still time to alter things, which is why we have gone out to parents. The main point was to preserve the Cathedral Choir School."

In April last year, the Choir School announced plans to sell its current site in Whitcliffe Lane, Ripon, and move to purpose-built premises in the south of the city. The move was an effort to tackle its £600,000 debt, much of which was owed to the cathedral. Speaking at the time, the chairman of governors, Andrew Kitchingman, said: "Like a lot of prep schools, we are asset-rich and cash-poor."

In a joint statement, Sir Thomas and the Dean of Ripon Cathedral, the Very Revd Keith Jukes, a choir- school governor, said: "This is a superb, possibly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. . . It brings together the strengths of both schools across the academic, music, sports, and arts arenas to make what we aim to be the leading independent school, providing an outstanding education for boys and girls from ages three to 16."

The new school will be called Ripon Cundall Manor School.

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