Surrey independent schools merge

Barrow Hills and King Edward’s Witley Schools have announced that they are to formalise their close working relationship

The governing bodies of King Edward’s Witley and Barrow Hills School have announced a merger of the two Witley Schools’ foundations with effect from September 2015. The decision to merge the respective charities makes formal a close relationship that has evolved between the schools over the course of recent years. Despite the merger, however, Barrow Hills will remain an independent Roman Catholic prep school for children aged 3-13, while King Edward’s Witley will retain its position as an independent senior school providing boarding and day education for children aged 11-18.

The governing bodies say that the merger represents a natural working partnership and a sharing of a common philosophy. Announcing the merger, they identified its key benefits as: 

• the opportunity to maintain the affordability of an independent school education against the backdrop of rising costs in the sector

• the ability to benefit from economies of scale without compromising the ‘family feel’ of both schools

• enhanced sharing of resources including after-school care, sports and performing arts facilities and extra-curricular activities

• the ability to provide boarding capability (including flexi boarding) to Barrow Hills pupils

• the potential for parents and children to benefit from a seamless independent co-educational school education experience from the age of 3-18 

Matthew Unsworth, headmaster at Barrow Hills, said: “For some time we have been considering how best to preserve and develop the long-term future of Barrow Hills in the context of considerable changes in the independent sector over the last few years. Joining forces with King Edward’s Witley represents the natural choice to ensure the continued evolution of our school and brings with it many benefits whilst still preserving the superb education and family ethos which have always been the hallmarks of Barrow Hills.”

John Attwater, headmaster at King Edward’s Witley, said: “Finding a way to extend our educational ethos to a wider age group without compromising King Edward’s supportive community and focus on the individual has been an item on the management team’s agenda for many years. King Edward’s has always enjoyed a great working relationship with Barrow Hills and I believe that by formally recognising the bond that exists between us we can consolidate our core strengths to present a choice of two exceptional independent co-educational schools for the Surrey area.”

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