Felsted private school announces closure

Teacher's desk in classroom

Teacher's desk in classroom - Credit: Getty Images/Creatas RF

There were shocked reactions from both parents and staff to the sudden announcement that the FKS School in Felsted is to close in July.

The owner of the school, Valerie Lipman told the Broadcast her solicitors had advised her not to disclose why the parents and children were not told before the end of last term.

News of the closure broke over the Easter holidays. On hearing the decision, a group of parents held an emergency meeting before the start of the new term to discuss a possible rescue plan but at the end of the session, a spokesman said they had nothing to report. The school has an enthusiastic Parents’ Association which over the years has provided funds for books and equipment.

Lisa Roycroft, a member of FKS’s Parents’ Association, said: “I have two children at the school who have both been exceptionally happy there. We are completely shocked and saddened that our lovely school will be closing.”

Within a day of the development, other private primary schools in the district were receiving calls from parents anxious to find a new school. One school said they had received a phone call from a mother sitting on a beach in Spain who had received a text from her friend.

Just days before the end of the holiday, parents received a letter from Miss Lipman saying the school would close at the end of term.

Miss Lipman, wrote: “This has not been an easy decision for me but it is time for me to retire. For a good number of years, I have looked at various options to enable the school to continue but the economic challenges over recent years have meant that the options are not available.”

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FKS was founded by Miss Lipman’s mother, Ida Lipman. It opened with 19 pupils in 1957 and at one time was known as Mrs Lipman’s School. Originally it was in Felsted’s Memorial Hall. It became known as Felsted Kindergarten School and later FKS (Schools) Ltd. There are two houses with playgrounds at its present site in Braintree Road. Miss Lipman took over the school, which currently has 90 pupils, in 1999 the year after her mother died in 1998.

Miss Lipman told the Broadcast that she had been trying to sell the school, as a school, for some time and she was still trying. She said: “It is my dearest wish that the school continue. That would be wonderful. I would like it to go on as part of my mother’s memory and her legacy.”

She added: “The children are adorable, I’m terribly sad about it all.”

Headteacher Lynda Stanwyck added: “We are all totally shocked at the news that our lovely school with its family atmosphere is closing. My thoughts are with the fortunes of the children, the despair of the parents and of course the welfare of my excellent staff. Local education is losing a valuable asset that will remain in the memories of many families.”

Dr Mike Walker, headmaster of Felsted School, said: “Felsted School was saddened to learn this week that FKS will close at the end of this term. We send our sincere sympathies to everyone at FKS as this must have been, and continues to be, a very difficult time for the whole school community. Such news also significantly affects our village and the wider community.

“We have valued our relationship with FKS over many years and would like to do whatever we can realistically undertake to help in this exceptional situation. We understand that current FKS parents will be very anxious about seeking places for their children in another school for the next academic year. However, we must also be realistic about places we currently have available at Felsted Preparatory School, where in most years we have very limited spaces available. This is in a context where overall the school is larger than it has ever been and as such we unfortunately do not have any physical space to expand by putting on additional classes in any year group.

“The governors have no plans for any involvement in the running of FKS or for the use of its buildings, as each school is so different in its education and ethos.

“If any FKS parent feels it would be helpful, we would encourage them to contact Mrs Burrett, the Headmistress of Felsted Preparatory School, or Mrs Ruth Wyganowski in the Preparatory School Admissions Office, directly at any time on 01371 822611.”