News

Boarding Provision at Shaftesbury School is saved!

After a period of uncertainty regarding the continuing provision of state boarding at Shaftesbury School, the Trust has now announced that boarding will remain available on the site for the foreseeable future.

Numbers at the boarding house had fallen dramatically following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, and the Covid pandemic. Shaftesbury School is one of only a handful of state schools in the southwest of England that offers a boarding option. Students receive their education for free with parents only paying for the accommodation, making it an affordable option for many who want to send their children to boarding school. The significant reduction in student numbers at the boarding house has demanded a critical review of its continued financial sustainability.

Trustees have been and remain highly supportive of this facility remaining open. Nonetheless, as the financial viability of the boarding house was becoming seriously unsustainable it has demanded that all options be considered for its future. As one of the options was to close, they were obliged by law to open a public consultation on the potential closure of boarding provision. A major focus has been on determining the required major re-structuring of its business/funding model to ensure its sustainable future.

The response to the public consultation demonstrated overwhelming support for the boarding house from students, parents, staff, and the local community. Following a series of discussions with the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) and the Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), SAST is thrilled to announce that the boarding provision at Shaftesbury School will remain open.

The trustees and the senior executives of SAST have been aware from the start of the anxiety that trying to tackle the worsening financial position would cause students; we have kept them informed, were impressed by the video they made in support of the
school, took their views into account, and supported them throughout this process. We are now delighted to be able to give them this good news.

Donna London-Hill, Headteacher of Shaftesbury School said “We are over the moon to receive the news that boarding will continue here in Shaftesbury! The last few months have been worrying for students, especially those in the middle of an exam course, so we are relieved and pleased that we can now offer certainty for their future education.”

Bob Stacey, Business Director at SAST, said “As a Trust we have pursued many different avenues in our fight to keep the boarding house open and we are delighted to announce it will remain open. We would like to thank the Boarding Schools Association (BSA) for the support that they have provided, and we are now confident that there is a financially viable way forward, meaning Shaftesbury School can continue its proud history of welcoming students from around the world to study here in Dorset.”

Any students who have the right to attend state school in the UK are eligible to board at Shaftesbury School, and the school also offers a wider range of options for UK parents, including flexi and weekday boarding.

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