CROYDON IN CRISIS: With accusations of ‘sexist and misogynistic behaviour’ and even a declare of ‘fraud’ in opposition to the financially troubled property builders on the Whitgift Basis, the struggle to avoid wasting the ladies’ unbiased college has taken a brand new flip.
EXCLUSIVE by STEVEN DOWNES
Plans for the enforced closure of a £20,000 per yr women’ personal college have prompted an offended confrontation between mother and father and the Whitgift Basis.
One mother and father’ group has accused the Basis of “fraud” over its actions in accepting a 12 months 7 consumption in September with none trace that the varsity would shut by 2025, and have warned that they may now resort of authorized motion within the battle to avoid wasting the varsity.
A letter from the Previous Palace Dad and mom’ Alliance, an organisation which has sprung up within the final fortnight following the announcement of the varsity’s closure, says that folks are extra “incensed” than ever by the newest feedback from the Basis’s chair of governors, Christopher Houlding.
Houlding is accused by the group of going “full-fat waffle” over the closure plans, they usually say that his newest letter to oldsters is “embarrassing”.
OPPA is organising its newest demonstration in opposition to the closure outdoors the Previous Palace college gates in Croydon Previous City this afternoon.
The Basis is the large-scale property developer and landlord who operates three giant unbiased colleges in Croydon. It’s £1billion gamble on its prime piece of city centre actual property, the Whitgift Centre, has failed badly.
The Whitgift Basis has seen the worth of its property funding portfolio plummet by virtually £11million between 2021 and 2022, which, based on their newest set of accounts “is because of the decline in worth of economic properties together with the Whitgift Purchasing Centre”.
Rents from the Basis’s properties have additionally slumped, down by £4.4million from £5.6million in 2021 to £1.2million in 2022.
It’s in opposition to this background of its personal disastrous monetary mismanagement that the Basis abruptly pulled the plug on Previous Palace College final month, saying that it might shut in 2025, as first reported by Inside Croydon.
The offended response to Houlding’s letter to oldsters has since been matched by extra mother and father’ fury, because the Basis has been utilizing the stunning loss of life of 15-year-old pupil Elianne Andam as an excuse for not responding to pressing questions from mother and father searching for details about various colleges for his or her daughters.
Final week, employees on the Basis’s workplace on North Finish had been sending out automated resplies to all enquiries that had been despatched to the particular electronic mail tackle set as much as deal with enquiries concerning the closure of Previous Palace.
“For the time being we’re overwhelmed by the tragic occasions of this week and so your electronic mail might be responded to subsequent week,” was the Basis’s robotic autoresponse.
Many mother and father of ladies at Previous Palace’s prep and first colleges, in addition to some within the senior college, have reluctantly determined to up-sticks instantly if they’ll discover locations at different appropriate colleges. With half-term quick approaching, time is brief to make such preparations.
“They’re overwhelmed?!” one offended mother or father informed iC.
“They should see the state of the ladies who’ve misplaced a peer and are actually competing in opposition to one another by sitting assessments for locations in colleges that are over-subscribed. A lot of them at key factors of their training.”
If Houlding’s letter, despatched to oldsters final Tuesday, was meant to calm the mounting discontent amongst mother and father, it had precisely the other impact.
Of their three-page rebuttal, the mother and father’ organisation wrote, “Your assertion that the numbers at OP are falling and due to this fact provides you a legitimate motive for closure is totally rejected.
“The very fact is that the degrees of funding made in OP are considerably decrease than these made within the boys’ colleges.”
The mother and father declare that the Basis has refused to share monetary details about the extent of capital funding made at Trinity and Whitgift colleges, the Basis’s boys’ colleges, in contrast with what has been spent at Previous Palace.
“You’ll not share this data since you are too afraid to point out us the true image of heavy under-investment in OP. The fact is that that is the basic motive why OP will not be in a position to entice as many ladies because the boys’ colleges.
“Your additional assertion that you’ve got tried extremely laborious to reverse or mitigate the decline of OP is factually incorrect. By merely commissioning research and buying Croham Hurst [another girls’ private school] in 2008, you’ve achieved nothing…
“What precisely has the Basis been doing for the final 15 years to draw future batches of ladies to OP?
“The truth that OP women are struggling to seek out locations in unbiased colleges is proof of strong demand for high quality training for ladies…”.
The Basis introduced its closure plans on September 21, barely per week after that they had publicised plans for a 2023 open day for potential newpupils at Previous Palace. Present mother and father are suspicious that there was by no means even the slightest try at a session over the way forward for their daughters’ college.
“As a Basis, given that you just run three colleges and different property, you might be deemed to be a public physique and, due to this fact, are topic to public physique processes and rules.
“The truth that there was no session is a transparent dereliction of your duties. The truth that you provided admissions to the incoming 12 months 7 women with out giving the mother and father even a touch of a possible closure is morally unconscionable and quantities to fraud.
“The truth that the varsity was making losses yearly and, in your view, had no future was evident to the Basis for years. But, you selected to cover it from all mother and father. You haven’t solely defrauded the present 12 months 7 mother and father, but additionally all the opposite mother and father who put their belief and religion in you regardless of you and the Basis figuring out totally properly that you just had been going to shut the varsity down.
“If you happen to suppose having a pre-announcement session was going to make the state of affairs messier, sadly, your years of expertise within the training sector has taught you and the opposite Governors little or no.
“Taking the mother and father with you’ll have been the best and honourable factor to do – sadly, that doesn’t look like the John Whitgift Basis’s approach.”
The mother and father have requested for all monetary statements for Previous Palace since 2008 (the Basis’s accounts, as lodged with the Charity Fee, don’t break down to point out the completely different figures for Whitgift, Trinity and Previous Palace.
“Given how proud you might be of the truth that the boys’ colleges are utterly full, and likewise worthwhile, we will perceive your reluctance to consider a merger. To bask within the glory of the success of the boys’ colleges whereas the woman’s college crumbles is indicative of your sexist and misogynistic behaviour that we’ve come to count on from you and the Governors.”
Some sources counsel that discussions are at a complicated stage for the 1,048-pupil Trinity College, in Shirley Park, which already has women in its Sixth Kind, to go co-educational from 11-year-olds upwards.
Houlding’s letter final week did make reference to the Basis’s dedication to ladies’ training, including that “any plans will take a while to develop”.
Permitting women to affix Trinity in 12 months 7 in September 2025 may very well be an possibility, though it might solely go half strategy to addressing the apparent and quick issues of Previous Palace mother and father.
Accusing Houlding of “full obfuscation of actuality” and “dishonesty”, of their letter, the mother and father repeat their requires an pressing assembly.
“The very fact is that the Basis has an obligation of care to the ladies and has a social dedication to teach them. The very fact can be that should you had cared to have an open dialogue with mother and father and alumnae, we might have collectively discovered artistic options.
“Your intention was by no means to attempt laborious sufficient for the ladies’ college…
“The truth that you and the Governors have made a canine’s breakfast of the Basis’s funding portfolio provides us little religion in your talents to handle and develop the Basis’s asset base.” The mother and father name the £1billion bungled gamble over the Whitgift Centre redevelopment as a “debacle”.
“We have now given you the chance, repeatedly, to work with us in a collegiate method and with out prejudice. But you’ve chosen to utterly ignore our requests.
“We will now formally proceed to authorized motion.
“That is about our women’ future and we are going to do all the pieces in our energy to verify we defend their pursuits.”
Learn extra: Whitgift Basis decides to shut Previous Palace College in 2025
Learn extra: Falling rolls and rising charges: how Previous Palace bought squeezed
Learn extra: Ghost haunts historic palace the place Good Queen Bess slept
Share this: Fb