EXCLUSIVE: Daniel Radcliffe’s old £21,000-a year Chelsea prep school reveals it will close due to shortage of pupils
- It comes as many private schools under financial strain are struggling to survive
- The day school is also the alma mater for Oscar-winning actress Emerald Fennell
Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe’s old prep school has suddenly announced it will close due to a severe shortage of pupils.
The news that £21,000-a year Redcliffe Gardens School in Chelsea will shut at the end of the Summer term came as many other private schools are struggling to survive following the pandemic, cost of living crisis and, in some cases, sanctions against Russian oligarchs living in the UK.
As well as Radcliffe, the day school is also the alma mater for Oscar-winning actress Emerald Fennell, who starred in the Crown and Call the Midwife and picked up her Academy Award for best original screenplay after writing the second series of Killing Eve.
Her sister Coco Fennell, a fashion designer and beautician, was in the same class as Radcliffe. Both women are daughters of mogul Theo Fennell.
Another Redcliffe alumna is Lost in Austen star Jemima Rooper.
£21,000-a year Redcliffe Gardens School in Chelsea, pictured, will shut at the end of the Summer term
Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe, pictured here, attended the preparatory school
Parents were sent an email yesterday from Simon Davies, chair of the governors, telling them the ‘difficult news’ that the Godolphin and Latymer Foundation which took over Redcliffe Gardens in 2020, had decided to close it down after more than 70 years.
He said the intention had been to build pupil numbers after they tailed off during the 2020 lockdown, and despite ‘very positive educational achievements’ under head teacher Sarah Glencross and her predecessor, ‘we have still not seen the turnaround in pupil numbers which was needed to secure the financial future of the school.’
According to the gov.uk website, the current pupil roll stands at just 74, despite a capacity of 186, yet earlier this month the school was short-listed for a ‘Great City Prep’ award in a competition run by news magazine The Week.
Mr Davies added: ‘A number of external factors have made the context especially challenging with the Covid pandemic adding very significant pressures.’
The school’s staff were working with another Chelsea prep, the Hampshire School, which was offering places to all the pupils from Redcliffe Gardens, he said.
The closure spiked interest on Mumsnet with one poster suggesting that the Godolphin and Latymer Foundation would make ‘a small fortune’ by selling off the real estate from Redcliffe Gardens school. Another said worried parents had already turned up at another nearby school Cameron Vale, applying for places there.
Daniel Radcliffe, who grew up in London, the only child of Alan, a literary agent, and Marcia Gresham, a casting agent was at Redcliffe’s pre-prep school before attending Sussex House and City of London School.
Most independent schools were forced to reduce fees when pupils were sent home during the lockdown and its aftermath, but still incurred the full cost of teaching staff who were continuing to provide lessons online.
The pressure was further exacerbated by the inability to generate extra income from events held at the school’s premises and the increasing reluctance of parents to take the financial risk of choosing private education.
Wider financial pressures have already led to several high-profile closures including St Mary’s Shaftesbury and Ashdown House, Boris Johnson’s former prep school.
In May 2020 the Times Educational Supplement forecast that as many as 30% of UK’s private schools could face insolvency in the near future.
Edward Ellis of Mercer & Hole Corporate Restructuring team said: ‘Independent schools are traditionally operated as registered charities but may also be trusts, unincorporated associations or companies.
‘In recent years an increasing number of private schools with an openly capitalist ethos have entered the market, adding to the pressures on the traditionally run schools.’
Oscar-winning actress Emerald Fennell, pictured here as Camilla Parker Bowles in Netflix’s hit series The Crown, also attended the day school
Further down the line, Keir Starmer has pledged to keep Jeremy Corbyn’s policy of scrapping charitable status for private schools, and making them pay VAT if Labour win the next election, which is predicted to send many more to the wall.
Parents are increasingly opting to economise on their children’s primary education to be able to afford private secondary school fees, Melanie Sanderson, managing editor of the Good Schools Guide told the Sunday Telegraph recently.
‘I think prep schools are especially vulnerable,’ she said, adding: ‘If you wanted to send your child to Highgate or St Paul’s, and you’ve got a bright kid, you might save that £20,000-odd a year at primary level and for secondary school.’
MailOnline contacted Redcliffe Gardens School for comment.
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