A group of parents at Loreto Prep are considering legal action after news of the school’s impending closure left them with just weeks to find school places for their daughters.
Earlier this month, the 114-year-old independent school made the shock decision to close at the end of the current academic year, citing “unprecedented financial challenges” that had made the school “no longer viable”.
Parents only learnt of the school’s decison from an email marked “urgent” at 7pm on Thursday March 16th, just 16 weeks before the school breaks for the summer holidays on Friday July 7th.
A meeting then took place involving parents, staff, governors and trustees on Tuesday March 21st when, a statement from headteacher Anne Roberts admitted, there was “a lot of understandable sadness and concern from the parents about the proposed closure of the school”.
She said the trustees – the Loreto Sisters who own the school – had agreed to meet with parents to “listen to any viable proposal”.
The statement from Mrs Roberts added: “The meeting was an opportunity for them to ask questions, share their concerns and put any emerging ideas forward to help stop the closure. The trustees have agreed to meet with a parents representative group in a week’s time to listen to any viable proposal.”
The school currently educates 118 pupils between 3-11 years of age, including many with special education needs.
Some parents have now formed a committee to try and save the school, which was founded in 1909 as part of Loreto Grammar but became a separate school with its own governing body when it moved to its present site on Dunham Road in 1972.
One of the parents, Joseph Kotrie, said: “This news was forced upon parents, teachers and governors, without notice just a week ago, alongside claims that every avenue had been explored of returning the school to profitability.
“It is our understanding with the knowledge we have to date that the school is profitable and that claims of significant losses are not supported by any evidence provided.”
Kotrie claimed that St Bede’s Foundation, which already runs a number of schools in the region, had offered to take over financial responsibility for the school.
“It is our understanding that this offer of help appears to be being ignored by the order of nuns who are the school’s trustees.
“As a result, we have written a formal letter to The Trustees explaining our position and explained we are considering taking legal action.”
Xavier Bosch, chair of the St Bede’s Foundation, said: “(We) wish to help to guarantee the future of Loreto Prep in any way we can.
“In so doing, our intention is solely driven by a strong wish to preserve a beautiful example of Catholic education which has served Manchester for so many years and needs to continue to do so for many more.
“We understand that time is short but are willing to be as flexible as possible to ensure that a happy ending is reached which will do justice to the exemplary legacy of the Sisters of Loreto and secure an undisturbed education to the existing pupils. We are happy to work with parents, staff and of course the Sisters to ensure a satisfactory deal is reached.”
A spokesperson for Trafford Council told us that it had not been involved in the decision to close the school.
It said: “Loreto Preparatory School is an independent catholic primary school under the trusteeship of the Loreto Sisters.
“The council were notified of the closure but were not involved in the decision. The Council’s School Admissions are providing advice about local vacancies to any families who are looking to return to a local state funded school in September.”