AFTER three weeks of fundraising, pledges and talks with administrators, a school in Shaftesbury will not be reopening in September.

On July 15 St Mary’s Shaftesbury confirmed it was shutting permanently with immediate effect, but within 24 hours a committee was formed to rescue the school, made up of parents, staff and alumnae. An online fundraiser was launched with a target of £1.5million.

Despite investment plans and more than £250,000 raised however, with the public Go Fund Me page reaching more than £31,000, the school has not secured enough pupil admissions for the autumn term, as the confidence of parents had been “sufficiently dented” following talks of administration.

As a result the school will remain closed.

In the most recent statement from the Save St Mary’s steering committee it said: “St Mary’s will not be reopening in September.

“Whilst we managed to secure an agreement in principle to buy back the school, the confidence held by parents had been sufficiently dented by the announcement of administration that we were unable to secure the numbers we needed for the coming academic year.

“Whilst the majority of parents wished to keep their daughters at St Mary’s, it was not enough to be viable, and our goal was always to ensure its long-term future, rather than simply a plaster solution.”

There were previously plans for the school to be sold to an investor who would pay off its debts and safeguard the establishment’s future, but the purchaser, reported by the Sunday Times to be Achieve Education Group, pulled out of the agreement.

After the school returned to market, receiving 40 expressions of interest, a deal could not be agreed and the school fell into administration.

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” and Simon Girling and Danny Dartnaill were appointed joint administrators on July 16.

It was requested by the committee that parents and staff wait until July 24 before making firm commitments to changing jobs or moving schools, while all possibilities were examined.

The steering committee’s statement concluded: “In the timeframe available, we did all we could, and sadly must now move on.”

St Mary’s had served in Shaftesbury for 75 years, with around 120 members of staff.