Father saves The Mill School in Potterne, Devizes, Wiltshire
PUBLISHED: 09:40 03 June 2011 | UPDATED: 19:29 20 February 2013
Matt Hill from Seend Cleeve, who runs Forward Thinking Solutions with his business partner Dave Stanley and whose daughter is in the nursery at the school, made an offer when he found out that the school would be forced to close
The Mill School, a small independent school in Potterne that was facing closure last week has been bought by one of the parents.
Matt Hill from Seend Cleeve, who runs Forward Thinking Solutions with his business partner Dave Stanley and whose daughter is in the nursery at the school, made an offer when he found out that the school would be forced to close at the end of the summer term.
We were devastated when we received the letter from the school informing us of the need to close, and started racking our brains for ways to help. We werent the only ones of course, all the parents were shocked and were grouping together to try to find a solution. A parent buy-out was discussed, and although not possible, the groundswell of energy and devotion to saving the school moved Matt and Dave to approach the owner.
Its amazing how little known this school is, said Matt, It is Wiltshires best kept secret, hidden away down beautiful lanes deep in the countryside. Its a very exciting opportunity for us of course, as we can bring the expertise in from our other companies and invest in marketing and refurbishment, improving the offering for the children, parents and staff, as well as improving community engagement, saving jobs and increasing the possibility for more.
Largely contained in an eighteenth century water mill, traceable to the Domesday Book, the Mill School is a co-educational independent preparatory day school for children age 2-11 years. The 62 pupils at the school come from as far as Chippenham to the north and Tilshead to the south. Academically, the school performs highly, with 80% of the pupils going on to receive scholarships and 100% getting into the secondary school of their choice. Its success lies in the unique family environment, with a culture of discipline, morality and the determination to encourage and enhance the skills and talents of the children.
Dominic Cross, one of the parents who pushed to save the school, said, It is too special a place to lose. It has a magical feel to it, and we were determined not to let the school close. Several of the parents were willing to put money in, and teachers came forward offering to teach for free, but in the end Matt came up with the best solution.
Matt and his business partner Dave Stanley have both been in the education and training sector for a decade and had been looking for an opportunity such as this to present itself.
In a letter to the parents explaining the purchase, Matt promised there would be no changes in staff. The stability and continuity of the education of your children is our unwavering priority. The things that bought us to the Mill School and nursery will remain the reasons to keep your children at the Mill School and nursery. Other educational streams will be introduced to make the Mill School more economically viable, to improve the infrastructure, to raise its profile as a beacon of learning and enjoyment in the community and to offer better opportunities for the children, parents, families and all who wish to be involved in this wonderful school.
The environment is wonderful, says Sylvia Parry, deputy head. I have never come across a child, parent or staff member who wasnt happy here. It was an awful day when we sent the letter home to the parents to explain that the school would have to close; there were tears and angst as parents were rushing to secure places in other schools for September. And then it was such a wonderful day today when we could tell them the school didnt have to close. When I told my class and they are year 6 so they wont even be coming back next term - they cheered!
Ownership of the Mill School and Millipedes nursery was passed to Matt Hill and Dave Stanley on Friday May 20th and a meeting and presentation to all parents was held to explain future plans for improving and enhancing the school.
Loosing no time, and making great use of half term, Matt has already brought in a team of workers who are painting walls, varnishing woodwork and building climbing frames in the playground. An open morning for the school will be held on Tuesday June 14th when parents and children can see the school and meet the staff.
BBC news coverage is on this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=352Hg_WTc10