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More than 50% of funding needed to save Kilgraston School has been raised in “an extraordinary roller-coaster of a weekend”, bosses have said.
The board of trustees’ announcement last Thursday night called into question the Perthshire school’s financial viability. Head of Kilgraston, Tanya Davie, said parents, pupils and staff were “deeply shocked and saddened” by the news.
A meeting of Kilgraston parents on Friday evening launched a campaign to raise funds with the aim of not only saving the school from closure but also securing its future.
The trustees gave a presentation to parents on Friday morning outlining their reasoning for their decision but accepted that they had not made any approach to parents or alumni seeking help.
Parents and staff immediately garnered support to question the trustees’ decision and called a meeting later in the day to look at immediate options. The school’s theatre was full and more than 200 dialled in from across Scotland, the UK and countries across the world.
Those attending heard from an insolvency and restructuring practitioner who told all present that the aim was to do all possible to prevent the school from closing and detailed the need for an immediate injection of £2m.
Damian Hind, a parent at the school who helped to lead the Friday night meeting, explained the position, saying: “Understandably, it has been a roller-coaster of a weekend. Not a single parent was aware of the issues raised by the trustees. Obviously, that caused alarm and a great deal of upset. Happily, it galvanised an incredible response from parents, friends and family across our community – at home and abroad.”
Some 48hrs later, almost £1.2m had been promised with pledges from a mix of former pupils, parents, staff, organisations and businesses.
Mrs Davie has since written to all parents and guardians with news of the plans going forward. She says: “I am delighted we have real interest from investors inspired by the extraordinary support of the parents over the last few days.” That investment relies on the on-going support of parents – and so the parent group created to help fund-raise will continue to call for pledges to hit their £2m target by this Friday.
The parent and staff collective that came together to launch and run the fund-raising campaign met last night. Damian Hind adds: “We are more than half way to our target and we are confident that will be reached by Friday, all in the knowledge that a complete restructure is being planned to keep Kilgraston open. That is the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Mrs Davie adds: “The reaction through the weekend has been overwhelming. At our peak, we were receiving pledges of support that topped £50,000 per hour – a quite extraordinary demonstration of the belief in Kilgraston. We are now working with a collaboration of donors, supporters and investors to ensure Kilgraston has a sustainable future … a future based 100% on our Sacred Heart ethos and that will maintain our membership of the Sacred Heart Society and focus on the school’s centenary in 2030.”
Perth Gazette asked bosses for a direct statement on the latest developments rather than just hearing from its investors and parents.
Kilgraston School has announce that it is in advanced discussions with Achieve Education Limited, an education provider, to safeguard the future of the school and provide much-needed financial strength and stability.
A joint statement from Kilgraston School, Achieve Education Limited and the Parents Steering Committee said: “We acknowledge the immense efforts and commitments of Kilgraston School’s parents, guardians, alumnae and other benefactors and it is this support and loyalty that has been a key factor in Achieve Education Limited moving quickly to keep the school open.
“We would like to work closely with parents and guardians, now and in the future, to restore faith in the school and the outstanding educational and pastoral opportunities it offers.
“We will now work in good faith, as quickly as we can, to try and achieve legal completion of this proposal in conjunction with parents, guardians, pupils and staff. It is all our hopes that Kilgraston School will have a bright, long and successful future.”
A new board of directors will be appointed to replace the school’s existing Governor and Trustee structure.