Independent school to close after 53 years

An independent private school for primary age children will close tomorrow after 53 years of educating youngsters.

Inglebrook School in Pontefract has been forced to close at the end of term after dwindling numbers of pupils hit its finances.

The school on Northgate Close opened in 1963 and once had 250 pupils. The decision to close was taken at the end of last month after that number fell to just 50 youngsters.

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Founder and headteacher Joyce Bellamy said the school was considering whether it could continue to keep its nursery open after tomorrow.

She said: “We started in 1963, when I put a little advert in the Pontefract and Castleford Express. I got five replies.

“From there we reached a peak of 250 children. That was when Pontefract was a thriving town with plenty of businesses and the pits were open.

“Since then there has been a gradual decline.”

A letter sent to parents said the school was no longer financially viable.

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There was fewer than 50 pupils registered at the school last September from reception through to Year Six.

Some classes would have three or four students, making it “impossible to continue”.

The letter read: “We would like to wholeheartedly thank you for your support of our school over the years, and especially thank the newly formed Parents’ Council which has worked tirelessly to try and increase our numbers, but even with their help not one new school pupil has registered during this time.”

The “sudden sad decision” to close the school was made on Friday, June 24, following meetings with accountants and after the bank refused to renew Inglebrook’s overdraft.

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The letter added: “As you can imagine, this is a very sad time for us personally and devastating for staff to lose their jobs.”

The school began at Mrs Bellamy’s home before moving to Carleton Church Hall, then Carleton Community Centre, before moving to Northgate Close in 1988.