There were tears in the playground at the Old Palace primary on Melville Avenue last Friday, from young girls and some teachers, as the news seeped through that their school had been condemned to closure by the Whitgift Foundation.
Inside Croydon broke the news of the closure decision late last Thursday, as the Foundation wrote to parents and guardians of those attending Old Palace, whether at its Old Town senior school site, where it had been educating Croydon’s young women since 1887, or at the pre-school and primary in South Croydon.
The private schools, which charge up to £20,000 fees per year to attend, currently have around 600 pupils across the two sites. But they have been deemed to be no longer financially sustainable, according to the letter from the chair of the Foundation, Croydon’s biggest land-owners and freeholders of the troubled Whitgift Centre shopping mall.
But some parents and former pupils are already organising a campaign that is looking to save their school. Among the options being considered by the Save Old Palace campaigners is a challenge through the law courts against the Whitgift Foundation.
They have started with a petition, raised by former pupil and iC reader Olivia Bailey.
The petition, addressed to Whitgift Foundation chair Christopher Houlding, has attratced more than 2,000 signatures over the weekend.
Bailey writes, “As a proud alumna of Old Palace School in Croydon, I am deeply saddened to learn about the proposed closure of this historic institution.
“OPS has been a pillar of education for girls in our community for over 130 years, and its closure would be a devastating loss for current and future generations.
“OPS holds a special place in my heart as it provided me with an exceptional education that shaped my character and prepared me for the challenges of life. The school’s commitment to academic excellence, personal growth, and fostering strong values has had a profound impact on countless young women who have passed through its doors.
“It is disheartening to see such an esteemed educational institution face closure due to financial constraints. We believe that every girl deserves access to quality education, and OPS has consistently delivered just that throughout its long-standing history.
“Closing OPS would not only deprive girls in Croydon of an outstanding educational opportunity but also erode the rich heritage and traditions associated with this esteemed institution. The school’s unique environment fosters empowerment, confidence, and leadership skills among its students – qualities that are essential for success in today’s world.
“We understand that difficult decisions need to be made at times; however, we urge those at the John Whitgift Foundation, who are responsible for this decision-making process to reconsider their plans. We implore them to explore alternative solutions or seek external support from individuals or organisations who share our belief in the importance of preserving OPS.
“By signing this petition, we call upon all concerned individuals in Croydon to join us in urging the authorities responsible for making decisions regarding Old Palace School’s closure to reconsider their plans. Let us come together as a community and demonstrate our unwavering support for preserving this invaluable institution.
“OPS has played an integral role in shaping young minds for generations. It is our duty to ensure that future generations have access to the same exceptional educational opportunities we were fortunate enough to experience at Old Palace School.
“Together, let’s save Old Palace School from closure and secure a bright future for girls in Croydon!”
Read more: Whitgift Foundation decides to close Old Palace School in 2025
Read more: Old Palace closure brought on by shaky Foundation finances
Read more: Falling rolls and rising fees: how Old Palace got squeezed
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