Durand boarding school closes down

The beleaguered free weekly boarding school on the former St Cuthmans site at Stedham has closed down after a three and a half year battle by the Durand Academy to build new facilities for inner city children.

Sir Greg Martin, chairman of governors of the Durand Academy Trust (DAT) told the Observer: “Sadly we have decided to close the boarding school because the Education Funding Agency (EFA) wouldn’t give us the money they promised. “We went on for three and a half years and tried our hardest. A dreadful campaign was waged to get the school closed. They stopped us getting planning permission and starved us of funding. It has been a shocking betrayal of the children.”

Campaigners against the boarding school said their fears about its viability had been proved right. Alasdair Nagle, local resident and member of the St Cuthman’s Campaign Group said: “The local community knew from the start this was an ill-conceived project in entirely the wrong location. Our fears about the viability of the boarding school have proved correct. In addition to the waste of taxpayers’ money, I feel most sorry for the pupils and their parents who have been misled all along by the school’s management.”

Fellow campaigner Adrian Hearle added: “I am very angry at the way Durand try to blame everyone but themselves for the failure of this deeply flawed project. In the letter to parents, they accuse the EFA of not releasing any of the £17.4m funding but fail to mention the reason was because Durand did not deliver on its side of the funding agreement to obtain the necessary planning permissions. The St Cuthmans site was always inappropriate for such a large scale greenfield development and if Durand had only spoken to the planners before purchase they would have realised this.”

Midhurst & Petworth Observer