Dear friend of St Bees School,
As we come to the end of 2016, we wanted to reflect on a year that has been something of a roller coaster, but also encouragingly fruitful. We could not have got so far without your support and help. When the school closed there were three key jobs to be done:
1. To avoid going into administration
2. To make the best of the school’s buildings in order to generate cash, so that…
3. …. We might be able to re-establish education at St Bees School site again.
Self evidently we have achieved 1. as we are making great progress with 2. The school now employs a number of people from the area, and we are receiving great support from businesses and local people alike to help us achieve each goal.
The Business Management Centre continues to increase its bookings; the grounds look lovely and the golf course is in excellent condition after the summer. We regularly have over 100 visitors to the school site in the week carrying on a multitude of activities – we really had not dreamt that this would be possible so soon. All of these factors strengthens our ability to maintain the site, and to aim for our ultimate goal.
On that front, too, we are ahead of where we dared dream we would be. During the year we received 13 expressions of interest to work with the Trustees on a plan to re open. After evaluation, three of them progressed to presentation stage and were considered carefully. However, one has emerged as our leading opportunity for a partnership. We have got to this stage through knowing already that there is a strong values, ethos and strategic fit between their schools and the Trustees aspirations. These are the foundations of all good partnership developed through the ages.
The group with whom we are discussing the future of the school is an educational group with interests across South East Asia. We have just agreed a period of Exclusivity, where they will not talk to anyone else and we will mirror this on our side. This is to allow time to see whether between us we can create a sustainable model for re-opening St Bees School.
Achieving this milestone of Exclusivity does not mean a school will re open. There is much hard work, many bear traps and challenges to face over the coming months. However, we approach this next period with a determination to find out whether there is a sustainable model, and whether we can re open in September 2018. There will probably be relatively little communication in the first part of 2017 as we focus on our project but we will be doing all we can. This has been entered in to with consideration and deep thought. We continue to revisit Grindal’s vision to ensure we keep our goals aligned with this.
One very positive development is the addition of Helen Miller to the Board of Trustees. Many of you will know Helen, or at least be aware of her strong links with the school and her in-depth knowledge of the schools market. We are delighted to welcome her, and thank her for her extraordinary contribution so far.
There are too many individuals to thank specifically but we really wanted to share this message:
To the whole community, to the Old St Beghians and to the many other stakeholders and interested parties, we thank you sincerely for your interest and amazing support.
There is one group we wish to thank personally and that is the staff of the school. In what have been difficult circumstances at times, they have been absolutely steadfast and dedicated. Thank you.
All that remains is to wish you all a very Happy New Year.