Mother's shock at sudden closure of £5,000-a-year Sheffield school

Handsworth Christian School in Sheffield (Chris Etchells)

Handsworth Christian School in Sheffield (Chris Etchells)

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A mother has spoken of her shock at the sudden closure of a Sheffield school, where parents were given just one week’s warning.

Handsworth Christian School shut on Thursday, seven days after parents and staff were told it was being placed into liquidation.

Caroline Jacklin, whose daughter attended the school, says parents should have been told earlier about its financial struggles (Chris Etchells)

Caroline Jacklin, whose daughter attended the school, says parents should have been told earlier about its financial struggles (Chris Etchells)

Caroline Jacklin said her daughter Saffron, who was due to sit her GCSEs this summer at the £5,000-a-year private school, had been left reeling.

“She’s annoyed because she doesn’t know what’s going to happen to her once half-term is over, or even whether she will be able to take her GCSEs,” said Ms Jacklin.

“These children have been thrown into complete disarray with no education. Places go under all the time, but giving parents and staff a week’s notice is surely not right.”

The school, which had just over 50 pupils on its roll, aged from four to 16, was last year downgraded from ‘good’ to ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted inspectors.

The Star has seen a copy of a letter, dated February 9, informing parents of the closure.

In it, headteacher Antony Swift writes: "The directors have instructed Graywoods to place the company into liquidation and if you are a creditor documentation will be sent directly to you.

“I wish to thank you for the loyalty you have shown to the school us and to wish you and your child/children every success in the future.”

Ms Jacklin said her daughter, who is one of seven students there due to sit their GCSEs this summer, had been offered a place at Hinde House Secondary School, in Firth Park, or Don Valley Academy, but she had rejected those options.

She said Handsworth Christian School was not your typical independent school, with lessons taking place in what she described as 'pre-fab huts', but the small class sizes and ‘close-knit community’ had made it the perfect fit for many children.

Ofsted lists the school's fees as £5,634–£5,808 a year, but Ms Jacklin said she paid £425 a month, which works out at £5,100 a year.

Councillor Mick Rooney said he was stunned to hear the news from parents on Saturday.

“The school should have involved families much earlier so it could be closed down in an orderly fashion and not just bang, it’s done,” he said.

“We have got to find appropriate schools for these pupils as soon as possible, especially those who are sitting their GCSEs this summer."

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