Kingston Community School is closing for good this summer, the government has confirmed.
The Norbiton school was earmarked for closure in April this year by Nick Gibb, Minister of State at the Department for Education, due to the poor financial situations of both Chapel Street – the trust running the school – and the school itself.
The decision has now been finally confirmed, following a ‘listening period’ in which Chapel Street sought the views of parents and carers of children at the school.
Harm van Eijnsbergen, whose two children Lorenzo (Year 4) and Vivienne (Year 3) attend the school, said the news was “devastating” especially as everything happened during the pandemic and the children were unable to properly say goodbye to one another.
“It was very bad timing. That should not have been allowed to happen in a period like this,” he said.
“A lot of children, parents, teachers and other staff still had some hope that the proposal from the GEMS Learning Trust to keep the school open would have been accepted. But powers that be decided differently and have put no interest whatsoever in the well-being and future of our children.”
Vivienne van Eijnsbergen, with friend Lena and her brother Lorenzo van Eijnsbergenoutside Kingston Community School
He added: “An era has come to an end! Our lovely school and the amazing head teacher and staff will be sadly missed.”
In a letter to parents and children, head teacher Ms Alison Cramp told the school’s children: “You will all hold a very special place in my heart forever and I will continue to smile and glow with pride as I think about you all reaching your milestones and achieving your dreams.
“Always remember, if you follow the KCS Golden Rule ‘Grace, Love and Fellowship’ you won’t go far wrong in life. I know that all of you will continue to flourish in the future.”
She added: “I wish you and your children all the very best for a bright and prosperous future. Thank you all so much for always supporting me.”
Kingston Council also expressed its “disappointment” in the decision.
The school, which opened in 2015, has operated on a temporary site, after a long delay to the demolition of the building on the school’s proposed site at Kingstons House in Coombe Road.
Because of this, many parents and carers were reluctant to send their children to the school, further impacting its financial situation.
Councillor Diane White, portfolio holder for children’s services said: “It is very upsetting for the children, staff and governors of the school who have all worked tirelessly to make it a success and I feel so sad for them. They have been let down by the government’s inability to build their permanent accommodation within a reasonable timeframe.
“The situation has been made worse by the amount of time that it has taken for the minister to make his mind up, just a few days before the end of the school year.
“The council has supported the school since before its inception, most recently by leasing it a second temporary site at Murray House to enable it to continue operating.
“I am glad that Achieving for Children’s schools admissions team has found places for the KCS children for September and I know that their new schools will work very closely with their families to ensure that transition is as successful as it can be.
The Department for Education has now confirmed that applications will be sought for a new education provider to run a new free school on the Kingstons House site in a few years’ time, to meet the expected growth in numbers of children in the Norbiton area, largely as a result of the regeneration of the Cambridge Road Estate.