Parents take their fight to school gates to save Old Palace

Parents of pupils at Old Palace – from nursery, through primary and into secondary – turned out in Shirley yesterday morning to protest at what they see as the arbitrary unfairness of the plans to close their school.

Class action: the Old Palace protest outside Trinity yesterday

As first reported by Inside Croydon, the Whitgift Foundation, the property business that runs three independent schools in the borough, has determined that “the sustainability of the school beyond the short-term [is] impossible” and that it will close in 2025.

The Foundation announced its decision just seven days after it had publicised the 2023 Old Palace open day – even though the school is now no longer taking new pupils.

With their school open day duly, belatedly cancelled, Old Palace parents and pupils gathered outside the gates of Trinity School in Shirley, one of two boys’ schools run by the Foundation which are not under threat of closure. Trinity was staging its recruitment open day.

Another protest, which had been planned to be staged outside Whitgift School in South Croydon on Thursday evening, was cancelled out of respect for Elianne Andam, the schoolgirl murdered in the town centre earlier this week. Elianne, 15, was a pupil studying for her GCSEs at Old Palace.

Old Palace, which can trace its history to 1887, has its senior school based on a site in Old Town which includes several Listed buildings which date back to Tudor times. Old Palace has been a fee-paying independent school since 1975, where fees in the secondary school are now almost £20,000 per year.

Today, one of the protesters, from a newly formed organisation Old Palace Parents Alliance, told Inside Croydon, “Quite a few teachers from Trinity, including the head, came out to show support for saving Old Palace.

Out in force: young girls have been in tears since they heard that their school is to close

“Words like ‘sexist’, ‘unbelievable’ and ‘suspicious’ were used to describe the circumstances.

“We managed to speak with a lot of parents leaving the open day and they were very surprised to hear the Foundation was closing the only girls school in the group.

“Several were alarmed and I think were made to wonder if it was the right place to send their sons.

Sexist?: many of those campaigning to save Old Palace are suspicious of the Whitgift Foundation’s reasons

“There seems to be overwhelming support for keeping Old Palace School open. Several alumni showed up who also explained they don’t understand why the Foundation didn’t approach the alumni for donations to the school, as they are a large body of high-achieving, professional women.

“Several Trinity staff indicated that they would be happy to educate girls as well and wondered why a merger wasn’t in the works.”

The Old Palace campaigner said that staff from the girls’ school are increasingly concerned about the education of their own children – many of whom have been granted burseries at Foundation schools which are likely to be withdrawn once the Old Palace teachers lose their jobs.

“The Foundation can’t even be asked to answer their emails asking questions or seeking support,” the source said.

“The Foundation has claimed to have explored every possible option to keep the school viable, yet it feels that we are coming up with ideas that can work. So we doubt they put any real effort into saving the school.”

Read more: Old Palace head announced retirement days before new term
Read more: Old Palace closure brought on by shaky Foundation finances
Read more: Falling rolls and rising fees: how Old Palace got squeezed

  • If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, or want to publicise your residents’ association or business, or if you have a local event to promote, please email us with full details at
  • Our comments section on every report provides all readers with an immediate “right of reply” on all our content
  • ROTTEN BOROUGH AWARDS: Croydon was named among the country’s rottenest boroughs for a SIXTH successive year in 2022 in the annual round-up of civic cock-ups in Private Eye magazine

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
This entry was posted in Education, Old Palace, Schools, Trinity School, Whitgift Foundation, Whitgift School and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Parents take their fight to school gates to save Old Palace

  1. Andy Winter says:

    The Whitgift Foundation has assets in excess or £200m.

    As an educational charity it is difficult to see how it can justify closing a school simply because it does not make enough money, and this sort of behaviour is at odds with its charitable status.

    A real charity would continue to operate a loss making enterprise in line with its charitable purpose.

    • It’s a property and landlord business which has charitable status

      • Kacie Hagenseiker says:

        The whitgift foundation is a non-profit organisation which is meant to use proceeds from properties and investments to further their charitable aims, the first of which is the education of children in Croydon, which was John Whitgift’s dying instruction.

        • It is common to confuse charities with not-for-profits. They are not the same thing.
          The Foundation has long-established charitable status, but it conducts the business of a commercial landlord and property speculator

  2. Chris Flynn says:

    I’m probably going to get downvoted into oblivion. But as a state-educated oik, this seems almost comical. Yes, women are suffering from not being privileged and un-equal. But buying a place at an independent schools is literally buying privilege and inequality. Isn’t there some irony here?
    It goes without saying that I absolutely sympathesise with children being disrupted (and particularly being announced in a terrible week for OP last week). But I can’t wrap my head around this angle.

    • Kacie says:

      Hi Chris, while I would tend to agree, Old Palace is different in that about half of the girls are on scholarships and bursaries and 78% are non-white. The school ensures the girls of Croydon get a great education that they couldn’t otherwise afford.

  3. MatthewP says:

    It must have a market value that could be presented to a consortium of Croydon’s Alumni and professional businesswomen. Why aren’t they allowed to buy the school outright and run it fully privately? Why is the Whitgift Foundation so desperate to shut it down (and sell the property to housing developers)?

Leave a Reply