Educational partner being sought to keep Hampstead private school afloat

The upper school's main building in New End, Hampstead. Picture: Polly Hancock

The upper school's main building in New End, Hampstead. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

An investor is being sought to ensure the survival of a troubled school in Hampstead which last week indicated its parent company could go into liquidation.

On Friday a court confirmed that the parent company of Heathside Preparatory School, Remus White Limited, and a key subsidiary, Heathside Preparatory School Limited, had filed a notice of intent to appoint administrators.

The papers were filed on Thursday through a solicitor at Bristol County Court, the court added.

When contacted by the Ham&High a spokeswoman for Heathside said the school was in "advanced discussions" about securing investment to stay afloat.

She said: "We are currently working to secure long-term investment for the School which will ensure its future, while keeping the ethos and vision that makes Heathside unique. We believe this is a very positive move and will provide the School with stability and strong financial backing.

"We are in advanced discussions and expect to be able to share more detail very soon."

In a subsequent statement, a spokesman added that as part of an on-going restructuring of the school's leadership Heathside was looking to identiy an "educational partner" that was "committed to protecting Heathside's independence and core ethos, whilst giving the financial backing and administrative infrastructure needed to enable the school to thrive."

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Heathside is spread across six sites in Hampstead and at the time of the last Ofsted inspection had 544 pupils aged two to 14 on its books.

It is currently rated 'Requires Improvement' by the regulator following two highly critical inspection reports in 2018 which rated it 'Inadequate'.

In April the Ham&High revealed that Heathside, which charges between £9,000 and £18,900 a year in fees, had faced a high turnover of staff in 2017/18.

In response the school said that it had made improvements and following the most recent Ofsted visit, acknowledged that there was still "work to do" to ensure the highest standards were being achieved.

It also received a notice to improve from the Department for Education on May 20 and has duly submitted an action plan, which the school said it was "confident" would be implemented by the August 20 deadline.

Three fresh sets of accounts for 2017/18 and 2018/19 financial years have also been filed by Remus White Limited. Accounts for 2017/18 had previously been filed in January.

The company's latest 2017/18 accounts now state that that in February 2018 it owed £4.3million to creditors, compared to the previously-stated £7.2million.

Two sets of accounts for 2018/19, signed off on May 5 and May 11 2019, report an increased profit from £97,000 in [insert date] to £322,832 in the past year.

But the company now claims to have just £54,296 in the bank compared to the previous year's £443,930, according to its latest 2018/2019 accounts. Its debts have increased by around £80,000.

The school spokeswoman added: "We would like to reassure all our pupils, their parents and our staff that the school will continue to operate as usual. We will share further detail as soon as we can."