AFTER announcing its closure last week, an “amazing and unique” school is fighting to clear its “historic debt” and remain open.

On July 15 St Mary’s Shaftesbury confirmed it was shutting permanently with immediate effect after serving the town for 75 years, putting around 120 jobs at risk.

It has emerged that a Chinese education company which had been due to invest £6million to save the private and boarding school pulled out at the last minute, blaming ‘political tensions’ between London and Beijing, according to the Sunday Times.

It was reported that the school was due to be bought by Achieve Education Group, a Shanghai-based company that invests in UK schools.

In a statement from St Mary's, the closure was "following a period of financial difficulty which was exacerbated by the economic impact of Covid-19".

The closure was announced on the establishment’s website and social media channels: “St Mary’s Shaftesbury has now permanently closed. We wish all our girls every success for the future, and thank them for making this such a happy school.

“‘Be seekers of truth and doers of justice’, wherever you go.”

A few days later however, the same platforms were updated: “Since the announcement of the school closure, there has been an uprising of energy from the parents, pupils and alumnae to save this amazing and unique school.”

Hours after the site closed a committee was formed to rescue the school, and an online fundraiser was launched. So far the page has reached more than £30,000 with a target of £1.5million.

The St Mary's statement added: "A steering committee of parents, staff and alumnae has been formed with the objective of coordinating, and effecting, the preservation of the school.

"To date over £250,000 has been raised and the steering committee is cautiously optimistic that a viable rescue package of support will be formed to guarantee the long-term survival of St Mary’s."

A spokesperson for the Save St Mary’s Steering Committee told the Journal: “We want to secure St Mary’s for another 75 years, this isn’t a lost cause."

They added that the school was known for having “historic debt”, but the school was going “from strength to strength”, adding: “This is a school at the heart of the community, catering for girls from all backgrounds.

"It has been superb during lockdown, the education [the school was] providing was second to none, the children are ahead of the curriculum.”

The spokesperson, who is also a parent of two girls who were in attendance at St Mary’s, added: “I’m from a military family, and we chose St Mary’s for that pastoral care - I knew my children would be looked after and have fun and that rug has been pulled out from beneath us.

“We are all committed to sticking to St Mary’s, it is such a unique and fantastic school and we’re now in a position to save it.

"We have been approached by numerous individuals and we’re in discussions with administrators, we just need to clear past debts.

“But we cannot just think about the short term, we need to create a viable, sustainable future for St Mary’s. It’s a really special place and we’re incredibly fortunate to have the backing of the community, alumnae, students and parents.”

A decision regarding the future of the school is due to be announced tomorrow.

For more information and to donate to the cause visit the online fundraiser or email