THE preparatory school which educates choristers from Chichester Cathedral has been sold to the Alpha Schools group, which already controls a number of independent schools.
The 900-year-old Prebendal School, in Chichester, has been at the centre of reports of an impending sale, including possible Chinese interest, after it reported an impending financial crisis (News, 23 April).
On Wednesday, the head of the school, Louise Salmond Smith, and the Dean of Chichester, the Very Revd Stephen Waine, who chairs the governors, informed parents in a joint letter.
Referring to the “rumour mill” regarding plans for the school, they said: “In recent times, the school has found itself confronted by some challenging situations and the trustees have been proactively exploring all available options to ensure the school has the strategic and financial support to guarantee a long-term successful future.
“The turbulence of the pandemic has clearly indicated the vulnerability of independent schools such as ours. Unfortunately, we have witnessed many small schools across the country destabilised by impossible situations, resulting in a considerable number of closures.
“Having considered a raft of options available to us, we ultimately concluded that the best approach would be to become part of a well-respected, like-minded group of schools. After a great deal of care in scrutinising a wide range of potential candidates, we were very pleased to be introduced to the Alpha Schools Group and subsequently receive an offer from their founder, Mr Ali Khan, which we have accepted.
“The trustees of the charity which currently funds the school will remain in place.”
Mr Khan, aged 51, is a former head of Crown House preparatory school in Stokenchurch, near High Wycombe. The Alpha group specialises in preparatory schools that offer “low-frills” education with fees set much lower than many traditional establishments.