Last weekend, parents at the Royal School Hampstead, an independent girls school founded in 1855, received a letter notifying them that the school had been sold to the Cognita Schools Group and is to be merged with the co-educational North Bridge House School. The former Royal School site will be used for the Senior School of the merged group, so that parents of girls aged 4 – 11 at the Royal School will now need to look for alternative pre-prep and prep schools in the area, although they do have the option of transferring their girls to the co-educational North Bridge House Preparatory School.
As many junior school parents would like to keep their daughters in a girls only environment, the sale is likely to lead to increased interest in other girls’ prep schools in the area, such as Sarum Hall School. If you have a daughter and are thinking of sending her to a girls pre-prep in the area, this might make admissions a little bit tighter.
It also shows that even in London, independent schools can be affected by financial trouble. In the last year, there has been an increasing number of independent schools closing down in England, but so far it seemed that oversubscribed London preps were immune to this. It seems that Central London preps are still oversubscribed and growing, but it is a worrying development to see an established independent school in Hampstead getting into this situation, so we need to keep in mind that it can happen to any school. Trying to gauge the financial health of your school of choice is not easy and will merit a separate post on its on, for now let me just recommend you that you keep it in mind when looking around for schools.
Further reading on recent events: