In a recent article in The Daily Post by their reporter, Mari Jones, it was announced that Rydal Penrhos boarding school one of North Wales’s oldest private independent boarding schools is set to become a day school as governors blame the current economic climate for the drop in boarders.
Rydal Penrhos in Colwyn Bay has been a boarding school since 1885, but is set to fully become a day school by 2021.
It costs more than £30,000 a year to board at the school, while day pupils pay around £16,000 a year.
Alumni of the school include TV presenter Paula Yates, actors William and Linus Roache, Dafydd Wigley, former leader of Plaid Cymru, and Four Weddings and a Funeral film producer Duncan Kenworthy.
In a letter to parents, chair of governors Julian Barnes said:
“Since early 2018, the school’s governing body has been undertaking a strategic review of all aspects of the school with a view to future-proofing Rydal Penrhos and ensuring that it is in a strong position for generations of pupils to come.
“In light of the changing market for independent education and the general economic climate, the governing body is working to achieve the following: by 2021, the transition of Rydal Penrhos to become a full day school, continuing to provide excellent independent education which more effectively meets the needs of local families.”
Julian Barnes, chair of governors
Day pupils account for 80% of attendees
The letter says day pupils currently account for 80% of children at the school and, from September, the school will move towards a shorter day.
Rydal Penrhos currently operates at multiple sites in Colwyn Bay, mostly in buildings designed by architect Sidney Colwyn Foulkes, which led to the area which includes the school being designated as Colwyn Bay’s first conservation area.
May sell off peripheral areas
The letter says the “peripheral areas of the school that are costly to maintain and surplus to requirements” will be sold off.
It was revealed late last year that the school swimming pool was set to be closed at the beginning of the year with staff having to find new jobs.
The governors are also considering consolidating the prep and senior school on one site to enable “more efficient organisation”.
Mr Barnes says the changes will put the school on a “sounder financial footing to allow future bursaries to be made available to those most in need”.
It is not yet known whether there will be any job losses related to the move.
Suzy Gibson, who attended the school as a boarder in the late 1970s, said: “I couldn’t believe it when I read the letter. Rydal Penrhos has always been a boarding school and I always thought it was the best part of it.
“I have forged friends for life at the school. It was like being in a family and growing up with sisters.
“I very much hope the camaraderie that I enjoyed as a boarder will continue.
“I can imagine it’s going to affect the economy of Colwyn Bay, as boarders always went into town to spend.
“I wish the very best for Rydal Penrhos. I really hope it will survive.”Suzy Gibson
Other schools may need to rationalise too
It’s quite plausible that there will be other boarding schools who convert to day-only, in an attempt to reduce their costs.
There may also be further rationalisations, where smaller prep-schools and boarding schools are forced to close their doors due to escalating costs.
Photo: Daily Post Wales