Parents at a scandal-riven school were told it will not re-open after all - less than one month before the start of term.
Rudolf Steiner School Kings Langley (RSSKL) was forced to close in June, after a series of problems with safeguarding, leadership, and inability to get insurance.
Just weeks later trustees announced plans to re-open a ‘new’ school on the same site on September 24, with the same staff, curriculum and students.
But they have now had to admit defeat.
In an email to parents the trustees said: “It was a very difficult decision to terminate negotiations having put so much time and effort into them and having, we believed, come so close to reaching a deal, but a clear majority of the trustees voted to reject further negotiation.
“All decision making processes have been carried out in line with Charity Commission regulations.
“It is worth noting, even at this point, Alpha have been given an opportunity to return to RSSKL with an offer reflecting the agreements we had reached with them on July 31, but to date we have received no communication from them.”
The re-opened school would have been part of the Alpha Schools group, an organisation based in High Wycombe.
The Alpha Group’s chief executive Ali Khan was unimpressed by RSSKL’s version of events, saying there were a number of inaccuracies in the email sent to parents.
And he accused the £9,857-a-year school of either having “a complete lack of understanding” or “deliberately misleading” parents.
RSSKL made a series of claims to parents about the failed negotiations with Alpha Schools.
They claim that the deal would have meant the school continued as a ‘Waldorf’ school, providing the unusual curriculum that RSSKL offered.
RSSKL Trustees were also insisting on being able to oversee the ‘new’ school’s curriculum for the next 25 years.
And trustees said that they wanted to protect assets from being sold off by Alpha School under the deal.
However Alpha Schools described these claims as either untrue or misleading.
One insider told the Gazette that there had never been a plan to re-open RSSKL as a Waldorf school, but that the ‘new’ school would have expanded its curriculum to include aspects of the Steiner teachings.
And Alpha chief executive Ali Khan told the Gazette that Alpha had actually been trying to protect the school’s assets, even offering an interest-free loan to RSSKL.
He said: “Before writing to parents on July 12, we had agreed to the terms set out by the trustees themselves (c. 20-point list) to run a Waldolf curriculum on the site as part of the provision.
“The trustees then decided to add even more requirements, which included monitoring committees, annual reporting, and affiliation with the Steiner Fellowship. All of which, whilst we regarded as entirely unnecessary, we agreed to.
“We have no interest in forcing the sale of RSSKL’s assets or any part of the site. It was the trustees who insisted that they be able to sell Friars Wood and, as negotiations proceeded, the cricket pitches too.
“Our sole interest was to protect our school and so we agreed that if the trustees had to sell, then they had to give us first refusal. In fact, we went further and offered the trustees an additional interest-free loan if it were required to stop them selling further assets.”