Longridge Towers School has overcome a crisis to once again put itself on a sound footing where it can face the future with confidence.
Chairman of governors, John Smithson, expressed the view in his speech to students and parents at the annual Founders’ Day prizegiving.
He said: “In 2009 we were facing something of a crisis. Pupil numbers were falling, with a consequential drop in fee income, and confidence among parents, prospective parents, and staff was also dropping.
“We realised that it wasn’t enough just to try to increase pupil numbers for the coming September: we needed to look much more closely at where our pupils were coming from, where else they might come from, how best to create and sustain a flow of new pupils, how to ensure we held on to the pupils we had rather than lose them to other schools, and how to keep developing what we offered in terms of curriculum, facilities, etc, so that whatever gains we made were long-lasting.”
The school invested in marketing, in transport to make it easier for children from further away to attend, improved its boarding facilities and stepped up its recruitment and early years efforts.
Mr Smithson said: “Over those five years, five years of unprecedented economic austerity, when finding the money to invest hasn’t been easy, when very many schools in the independent sector have struggled to minimise the falls in their numbers and indeed several have failed to survive, we have increased our pupil numbers by 16%.
“Our day pupil catchment area now extends to Dunbar in the north and Alnwick in the south; we have boarders from China, Spain, Russia, Macau, as well as various parts of Britain; and we have registrations for both 2015 and 2016.
“Today Longridge is a good place to be – but we’re continuing to work hard to secure its tomorrow, and its next week, its next month, its next year.”
Headmaster Tim Manning congratulated students on their exam successes and in other spheres of school life.
“Results in the public exams are important,” he said, “but it is more important in this ever competitive world to demonstrate what you’re going to do with them. This is where the wider aspects of education really come into their own. The enrichment programme, the house competitions, music, drama and sport provide the opportunities for the young men and women in the school to showcase their talents, raise their self-confidence and become truly rounded citizens.”