Dunottar/ Reigate Grammar - Merger, or what?

(1000 Posts)
quandry Thu 31-Jan-13 20:56:08

Got the letter today, and I have to say I don't really understand what is going on?
Is RGS bailing out Dunottar to save it going under?
I can't see the advantages for RGS at all?

Someone suggested that perhaps they'd make it co-ed, less academic school in the future (like a Box Hill in Reigate?) and share facilities more? (Sports fields closer than Hartswood?)

Elegantlywasted Thu 31-Jan-13 21:22:29

Can't see them making RGS less academic to be honest, I think people would start looking elsewhere. Making Dunottar less academic, I don't think it's that academic anyway. Like you at the moment I am struggling to see what's in it for RGS apart from the buildings and grounds at Dunottar, maybe they are playing the long game. The sports field at. Dunottar is closer but it's not that large and fairly impractical.

quandry Thu 31-Jan-13 21:39:22

I meant make Dunottar co-ed, and therefore the 'less academic' option for those (boys) who don't fit RGS but currently end up going out of town to Box Hill etc.

I heard today that the RGS is planning to make RGS more academic in the future, and change the entrance exam to reflect that?

Elegantlywasted Thu 31-Jan-13 21:50:45

Ah I see, I think that would make more sense actually, they wouldn't then lose the less academic boys. I hadn't heard about RGS upping their standards to be honest, interesting times ahead I think!

quandry Fri 01-Feb-13 15:20:25

Heard today that most of the junior school is closing (R to Y3 ?) and pupils (who want to) transferring to RSM.
D will then become a senior school only. Sounds sensible. Opportunities for RGS to use facilities etc

LIZS Fri 01-Feb-13 16:01:56

RGS is heading towards the more academic, hence why the Oxbridge candidates are being paraded in the local press this week and the new head came form a well respected state grammar, introducing retesting of new entrants at the beginning of Autumn term etc. Dunottar have recently spent a large sum on local advertising for open days , bill boards and so on but presumably to little effect. Its funding is endowed so shouldn't be precarious but I think what it offers is old fashioned and not sure their facilities are that great. It loses many girls at 6th form so maybe it could address that? RSM is linked to RGS but not exclusively.

Labro Fri 01-Feb-13 19:15:11

Slight thread highjack, but wondered what the entry requirements to RGS are at 13+ and when ds would have to be registered for 2015 entry. Unfortunately he didn't pass RGS Guildford entry and will be sitting a test at Reeds in September, just wondering if Reigate is also another option? Ds currently in Yr 6 predicted 5a in NC levels and classed as G&T

quandry Fri 01-Feb-13 19:40:56

Level 5s in Year 6 is what they look for at 11+, so he sounds about right, but 13+ is more competitive as only about 20 places (most come in a 11+).

It's definitely rising in popularity though with the new Head who started last Sept. It had more applicants for Sept 2013 than it has had for over a decade, and many were turned away before interview stage.

Elegantlywasted Fri 01-Feb-13 20:08:18

labro you would usually need to register for 13+ admission in the October of the preceding year, keep an eye on the website nearer the time for the exact date. I would echo what quandry says though, they will add 1 form so 20-22 places, so will be more competitive.

Currently level 5/6 is what we were advised was required at 11+. At 13+ they currently test on English, Maths and Reasoning, if the Head is keen to up the academic requirements though they may change that.

LIZS Sat 02-Feb-13 07:26:53

There isn't a large intake at 13+ as there are relatively few local preps which go through to 13, vast majority join at 11. I've a feeling the exams take place quite early, certainly well before Christmas, so registrations close and offers are made earlier than many others - which is helpful to know of you need Plan B.

MrsStoat Sun 03-Feb-13 09:37:06

With all existing Dunottar children being offered a place at RStM, does anybody know how RStM will be able to accommodate these extra pupils? I assume that the school would have had all existing places taken before this, so they must be doing something (e.g. creating extra forms) to ensure the children from Dunottar can be included without a detrimental effect on current pupils.

We are in the difficult position of having our DD been accepted at Dunottar for Yr 3 entry in September 2013, but are now being told it is unlikely that the place will now materialise. However, we have not been offered a substitute place at RStM, so we are left a bit adrift! Going to speak to the local schools tomorrow, but wondered if anything had been said to existing parents of either Dunottar or RStM.

sykes Sun 03-Feb-13 10:28:23

I think girls who are in years reception to three have places at RSM. Girls currently in years four and five will remain at Dunottar - becoming years five and six. Am confused as to how that will work as there will only be a small number of girls in the junior school building. I would contact the head of junior to find out more.

LIZS Sun 03-Feb-13 10:33:26

You might want to hit the phone for potential alternatives , before others do the same and definitely before LA allocations are made. Not all will want to transfer to co-ed (after all that is often why they are at D in the first place) but realistically there are very few local single sex alternatives.

LIZS Sun 03-Feb-13 10:36:17

Also I'm not sure you are talking about a significant number of children to transfer. Have heard it can be as few as 10-15 per year.

sykes Sun 03-Feb-13 12:14:48

The number transferring is 25 in total, I think. If the parents choose to move their girls to RSM. Some classes are very small, in fact year 3 (what will be year 4) only had one pupil so was taught with year 4, another very small class.

Ladymuck Sun 03-Feb-13 15:27:47

Just being nosey, as have no girls, but what is happening with the Seniors?

MrsStoat Mon 04-Feb-13 11:30:24

Thanks for the replies. Spoken to Micklefield who have a waiting list of 16 for Yr 3 entry in Sept 13, so not holding out much hope for that option. Waiting to hear from RStM. Feel really upset that something we thought had been settled a year ago has now fallen through, and left us with very few options. Not bothered about single sex schools (in fact, quite happy to go co-ed until senior school), but am worried that we'll now be too late to get a place at a school that would suit DD, despite having done all our homework well in time.

sykes Mon 04-Feb-13 12:07:51

Hawthorn's or Lingfield ND? Sorry, not sure where you live but are they possible at all?

MrsStoat Mon 04-Feb-13 16:21:30

We're looking into Lingfield ND, but don't really know much about this school. Anybody have any thoughts as to how this compares to RStM and Micklefield?

LIZS Mon 04-Feb-13 16:27:04

RSM and M very 11+ driven. Lingfield isn't as academically selective but know some in junior and senior happy there. If you live that way also look at Bury's Court and Copthorne.

KazBee Mon 04-Feb-13 16:46:38

Many outstanding schools in the area, my son attends Chinthurst School (Co-Ed) in Tadworth which has just extended its bus service to Riegate and surrounding areas, my son bounces into school every day! ages 2-13 if this helps?

KazBee Mon 04-Feb-13 18:08:14

I thought it also might be useful know Chinthurst are now co-ed and very successful any girls that don't wish to go the RGS route it provides a choice to stay to 13 and go to Epsom or St Johns!

KazBee Mon 04-Feb-13 18:31:10

I thought it also might be useful know Chinthurst are now co-ed and very successful any girls that don't wish to go the RGS route it provides a choice to stay to 13 and go to Epsom or St Johns!

Scillonia Mon 04-Feb-13 22:37:33

Looks like a lot of Dunottar girls will be heading off to Bramley in Walton-on-the-Hill, particularly the current Year 2.

KazBee Tue 05-Feb-13 10:00:59

Chinthurst has an amazing Year 1& Year 2 teachers you'd be mad to not just take a look,they have taster day on Monday 11th Feb and it's just down the road from Bramley,its about choice and I know they have limited spaces left as they are committed to 16 in a class.

Bellie Wed 06-Feb-13 20:16:30

Hope this doesn't out me (!)

Currently it is a consultation process for Dunottar to become part of the RGS group of schools. It will continue to run as a separate entitity within the group, as RSM does at the moment, but will benefit from shared processes and purchasing power. The deal has not been signed yet and any agreement will not come into force until September of this year.

Yes, it is proposed to close up to year 4 (current year 3 iyswim) and whilst obvioulsy nothing is signed they have decided to tell everyone this early so that there is an opportunity for them either to transfer automatically to RSM or to find other schools for their girls.

The plan is that Dunottar will continue as single sex from years 5 upwards as of September.

MrsStoat - I really do feel for you, as you had obviously made a choice that you were happy with. I don't think RSM have any spaces in year 3 now, but there was also talk of adding an extra class if necessary so may be worth asking them that?

MrsStoat Wed 06-Feb-13 22:00:16

Thanks for your message Bellie. We also heard that there may be an extra form at RSM - we're going to follow that one up. Fingers crossed!

fizza54 Thu 07-Feb-13 13:25:02

As the parent of a girl in Dunottar School, I’m quite offended by the comment that Dunottar is not academic. Yes, Dunottar has a wider range of ability than RGS, but the exam results speak for themselves: last year, they had 96% pass rate at GCSE, 54% with A*/A grades. At A’ Level, they had 100% pass rate and 61% of the students had A*-B.

They also have girls who go to Oxford and Cambridge – in fact, one of the current Upper Sixth has recently been offered a place at Oxford University. They produce girls who become lawyers, doctors, scientists, news presenters and international performers. I am proud that my daughter attends Dunottar and do not think that this is an appropriate forum for scurrilous gossip.

Bloom10 Thu 07-Feb-13 13:40:38

I support fizza54 and Bellie. I too am a parent of daughters at Dunottar and my understanding is that it is not a merger (despite what is being said around Reigate). It is a proposed collaboration/affiliation. RGS would not be taking over Dunottar. It is a cost-cutting exercise at the higher levels for both schools. One of Dunottar's greatest strengths is the way that it nurtures the best in all its students whether this be academic, sport or music, etc. From my own experience, I have seen the progress may daughters have made in terms of their academic standards and all-round confidence.

Lysette84 Thu 07-Feb-13 14:33:32

I have to agree with the above posters. As a proud ex pupil of Dunottar, I feel that the comments made about the school is less academic are completely wrong. I achieved As and A*s at GCSE and As at A Level in the Sciences. Without the support and encouragement of the fantastic staff at Dunottar I can say without any doubt I would not have achieved these grades anywhere else. When I arrived I was a shy student who struggled with English, I was predicted a D in English when I arrived, based on my KS2 scores, I left with 2 As! I have gone on to achieve a degree in the biological sciences from a top University and other postgraduate qualifications. As my current position requires me to speak in public regularly I value the experiences that I gained at Dunottar and the support that they provided me, which allowed me to develop into a confident woman. If you are looking for a school in Reigate for your daughter please visit Dunottar and make up your own mind about what they have to offer.grin

soph21 Thu 07-Feb-13 21:12:21

I believe Micklefield has spaces in Y1 and Y2. It also says on their website that there is an Open Day on 16th March, maybe worth a look!

LIZS Fri 08-Feb-13 08:16:24

Personally I wouldn't wait for an official open day. By then others will be doing similar if they sense the majority will be looking for alternatives to what is being offered and also people who may be nervous about LA allocations (especially in Reigate) . When Laverock in Oxted "merged" with Hazelwood other local schools put on extra visiting sessions specifically for those parents affected. Aberdour may be another worth consideration.

nononsense1 Sun 10-Feb-13 16:32:40

Dunottar is a brilliant school and speak very highly of them. Even back in the early stages of where to put my daughter reigate st marys was a no no and so was micklefield. Dunottar totally different, very friendly and completely different atmosphere. I feel offended on the previous comments made about Dunottar. Daughter in seniors and even now wouldnt move her. Look at the results , they speak for themselves. Stick together dunottar people! Dont listen to them coffee morning mums.

fish456 Sun 10-Feb-13 16:50:07

I agree nononsense1. As an ex parent of Dunottar & RGS I would back Dunottar any day. Both my daughters gained amazing GCSE & A levels & have both gone on to carve brilliant careers with 1 daughter at Oxford. My son, having been at RGS since lower 1st did not receive this level of support. I would urge all parents to look at what Dunottar has to offer, it is the best & most caring school around, if they had taken boys that is where my son would have been, & I know that I am not the only parent who feels this way.

nononsense1 Sun 10-Feb-13 18:08:49

Thank you fish456. Well said. Heres to Dunottar!

LIZS Sun 10-Feb-13 18:18:22

Come across several present and past pupils, some of whom have sent their own dd's there, who speak enthusiastically. However none of that changes the fact that despite upping their profile locally with ad campaigns and more frequent open days, they have not attracted enough new interest to survive at primary level. It isn't as much about academic standards and aspirations as having full enough classes to continue to generate a positive experience for all and maintain those standards. Current economic climate and a trend towards co-ed (there are now no local boys' schools) has taken its toll.

nononsense1 Sun 10-Feb-13 19:00:47

Think everybody forgetting Reigate St Marys were in the poo back in 2003 with very small numbers. We will survive! Put it this way if Dunottar were to change their name to Reigate Grammar School for Girls everyone would fly back. Lets hope Dunottar keeps its name . Love you Dunottar School. Reigate Grammar getting rather big headed in all this that may have something to do with the fact they have 900 pupils and Dunottar 200. !

Bloom10 Sun 10-Feb-13 19:05:24

In response to LIZS, we need to look forward and I support wholeheartedly the education provided by the Senior School at Dunottar. There is a need for girls only education in Reigate and in the Senior school there are many supportive parents. I have seen firsthand the benefits of girls only and I hope that Reigate parents will begin to see the value too. RGS is a very good school in its own right but having lived in Reigate for over 10 years it is very sad that many Reigate parents only believe that rgs is the school to send their children to in Reigate and dismiss Dunottar when most of them have not even bothered to view the product for themselves.

nononsense1 Sun 10-Feb-13 19:13:07

Great response Bloom 10. Your right. For some reason Reigate mums do seem to think Reigate Grammar is the best option. BUT who do they rely on when their little darlings do not cut the mustard for RGS. Yes Dunottar. Good enough then ! Over half do not get in! Got to laugh !

fizza54 Sun 10-Feb-13 19:34:01

Dunottar does amazing things with girls of a range of abilities. It's such a shame that the coffee morning mums brand the Dunottar as inferior simply because it doesn't cream off students like RGS. Saying that, Dunottar does have exceptionally bright students as well and...did you know that ALL OF LAST YEAR'S UPPER SIXTH AT DUNOTTAR GOT INTO THEIR FIRST CHOICE UNIVERSITY? THAT'S WITH A _WIDER RANGE OF ABILITY THAN RGS! Poor RGS can't boast the same! grin

nononsense1 Mon 11-Feb-13 08:35:28

Watch this space! It will all sort itself out. Maybe the reigate mums could offer their services as a governor to help the situation rather than idle gossip in costa coffee lol.

Bellie Mon 11-Feb-13 09:42:19

I am so pleased to see Dunottar mums rallying behind the proposed changes, the academic record does speak for itself and I am certainly pleased with my choice of school.
I have looked at other schools prior to choosing Dunottar, and then again when I had my ds. There is nothing anywhere locally that offers the same experience - education and pastoral as Dunottar. I have no shame in admitting I blubbed for hours when I realised that I would not be able to provide ds with the same experience that my daughter is getting!

Totally agree with those that are saying that the Reigate mums need to stop the idle speculation - unless they have experienced it for themselves, they really have no grounds for the degoratory comments that they use when talking about Dunottar or the girls that attend the school.

It is a shame that they were not able to keep the juniors afloat for a little while longer. They actually had a full intake for reception from Sept 13, so the marketing/open days were working, it just needed slightly longer given the economic downturn.

This has hit every school, even RSM and Micklefield and Hawthornes - funny how they all have spaces when you ring round, even though the word in Reigate is that they have waiting lists. I have personally known a number joining all these schools across a number of year groups - it is not always rosy everywhere else either!

fizza54 Mon 11-Feb-13 15:25:46

I think that it’s great that everyone’s rallying around to dispel these myths about Dunottar. I’ve put a lot of work into responding to the other mumsnet discussion thread called Reigate Grammar vs Dunottar. Would someone like to visit it? I’ve put a lot of time into researching my responses and I’d like a rest!!!!

nononsense1 Mon 11-Feb-13 16:59:54

Glad to see a lot of positives on here about Dunottar . Have to do my mystery shopping in the cafes ! I would be truly gutted if I had to go to RSM for the juniors, wasn't my first choice back then so to have to be forced out would be horrible. Rather go to LND.

ma4life Sun 17-Feb-13 16:50:34

Dunottar has an amazingly nurturing and caring environment. I hope it manages to stay independent of RGS as a hot house environment does not suit everybody and Dunnotar got amazing results for my daughter who would not have thrived elsewhere.

JulesRed Fri 22-Feb-13 23:46:53

Just want to echo all the support for Dunottar School. I have one daughter in the senior school and I didn't even bother sitting her for the RGS entrance exam because, having viewed both schools, I preferred the naturing atmosphere that it offered and wasn't keen on RGS. I am aware that there is quite alot of snobbery as far as the RGS v Dunottar question is concerned which I get a bit sick of hearing really. Dunottar is a fantastic school and if prize giving was anything to go by, there are loads of girls who get As and A star at GCSE. I do hope that the new collaboration with RGS doesn't destroy its ethos! And my advice for those who are in the junior school and looking at options.............. try the state sector! There are plenty of great schools in this area and worth a look.

nononsense1 Mon 13-Jan-14 17:34:31

What a delightful lot those girls are at Reigate Grammar. Reports of picking on girls coming over from Dunottar. Never will be as friendly as Dunottar School. Maybe the Costa Coffee mums should teach their children a few manners!

nononsense1 Mon 13-Jan-14 17:35:59

I think everyone forgets they get kicked out in sixth form if they don't perform… 25 wasn't it!

Bellie Mon 13-Jan-14 21:21:33

nonsense1 - sounds about the right figure and now the chinese students that came into the sixth form have left!

bookluva Tue 14-Jan-14 10:53:36

Why is that? (I'm being nosy!)

Bellie Tue 14-Jan-14 11:00:15

apparently they didn't find it all they were 'sold' that it would be.
Personally I think that culturally it was too much of an adjustment for them - loud, noisy, boisterous, and very 'one up-manship' within the pupils.

Interesting to see how the head will be able to justify buying a house in Reigate for them to live in, which is now empty and up for rent.

ChocolateWombat Tue 14-Jan-14 21:24:13

This is an old thread, so not sure why people are posting about here about issues not to do with the merger. I think current posters are misinformed too. 25 students were not forced out a the end of GCSE. Some students choose to leave to go to the college, but it is their choice and they can return if they wish. There are entry requirements for the 6th form, which are 4A, 4B and above. You need an A to do a subject at A level, but who in their right mind would encourage someone to do an A level with less than an A in it these days. It is a common requirement across schools now. And Chinese students are still in the school, but none live in a school owned house.
Reigate Grammar might not be the school for everyone and Dunottar might be better for some, which is fine. Surely everyone can just go to the school that suits them best.

tom2468tom Tue 14-Jan-14 22:36:48

I think wombat is right. I know that over a dozen didn't make the grades at St Johns and that Caterham asks for 5 A grades for students to get into the 6th form and depending who you ask is either ruthless or very flexible when applying that rule! IME, all schools have entry requirements for the 6th form and a few leave each year.

Why would it matter if some students came into a school having previously studied in China or France or America? Personally, I think that one of the good things about Caterham is that the 6th Form has a few dozen students from overseas in the 6th form as it makes the social mix a bit less 'surrey' and a bit more real world. I was talking to someone who has a DD in year 7 about the Mandarin Club that has just been launched at Reigate GS - run by one of the 3 Chinese students who joined the school 6th form this year. That seems pretty good to me (oh, and I guess that means that they haven't left!).

I would also say that Dunottar is another school with real strengths - a much stronger academic record than people give it credit for, all the benefits of an smaller girls school (pastoral care, girl opportunities in science etc), dedicated staff and more.

Can't we just accept that there are a number of good schools around.

DavidChallinor Fri 17-Jan-14 00:32:28

Well sadly its been announced by the trustees that 88-years of education is being ended and Dunottar is likely to close. What will happen to the school and its grounds if it does? I don't know, but the governors profiles attest to much involvement in the local Reigate educational scene , perhaps they'll know http://www.dunottarschool.com/our-school/trustees/

For those of you asking the most important question – how are the best interests of the children involved, some as young as 11, served by this, that's something again I think you need to ask the trustees.
A sad time for education in that part of Surrey.

Bellie Fri 17-Jan-14 01:00:38

Well you may well ask. It appears that Reigate grammar will benefit.
Zero investment for the land is the answer.
The new board of Dunottar was a majority of the board of governors who despite an obvious conflict of interest voted for the closure.
However fellow parents are mounting a legal challenge to this and will fight for the survival of the school.
Communication has gone out to this effect tonight

Bellie Fri 17-Jan-14 01:03:57

I meant to say the majority of the board was made up of governors that also were on the board of Reigate grammar.

How they can act In the best interests of Dunottar is a clear conflict of interest as the grammar stand to benefit substantially.

bookluva Fri 17-Jan-14 08:13:49

I have a very good friend whose daughter goes to Dunottar. My understanding is it started last September at the school's prize giving where the Head of the board of governors gave a highly inappropriate speech where he put the frighteners into parents by putting the seed in their minds that numbers were precarious. He then had to hold meetings with parents at the school, theoretically to allay their fears. With Year 9 parents, he made it worse and parents started to withdraw their daughters, worrying that the school migt close. Where did most if them go? RGS of course. They even accepted one girl who they rejected when she first applied 3 years ago. This begs the question: was this the long term strategic plan all along? When entering the 'collaboration' did RGS really just intend to eliminate local competition and boost it's own student numbers?

LIZS Fri 17-Jan-14 08:26:32

Surely this is an inevitable consequence and extension of the original "merger" and phased closure of the junior school. It has looked vulnerable for some time. RGS site is too constrained and needs more space. Also the more generous financial assistance offered by RGS et al and downturn in demand locally for single sex education and economy generally.

Bellie Fri 17-Jan-14 09:18:02

LIZ yes you are probably right that this was the natural progression of the merger. However if it is a natural progression why close the school, why not incorporate it fully?

The fact remains, the grammar school has financially given nothing (£0!!) to support Dunottar. There has been no financial assistance that you allude to.
They will inherit the land and the buildings without having to pay for it. Prime land in Reigate with an conservative value of £30m.

It is clear that there was not an intention to support Dunottar or try other approaches. The plan was to get the land for whatever purpose they wish to use it for.

Gogirl1 Fri 17-Jan-14 09:34:33

RGS have shown their true colours - asset stripping at its worst. 1 working day after the consultation last year the change to the Articles was signed by all Governers to show RGS as the only member and that after dissolution of the charity (provided they use it for education) RGS get all Dunottar's property and land for FREE. No wonder they haven't done anything to help, in fact, it has been the opposite. Totally sandbagged!! The only money they are now talking about investing is being raised by a charge against the property. I think they took this action now because green shoots were starting to show and the last thing they needed was the school actually increasing its numbers as it would make it more difficult to pull the rug without eyebrows being raised.

Prawntoast Fri 17-Jan-14 10:39:08

Why on earth did the Dunottar trustees or governors agree to this, if they knew there was no financial support being offered?

Bellie Fri 17-Jan-14 11:35:25

as one of the governors who was on the original board for Dunottar stated last night.

If they knew that RGS would not honour what they said they were going to, it would have been a different story.

The articles do not cover financial investment, that is a business decision. It appears that there were lots of promises made that have not been delivered on.

nononsense1 Fri 17-Jan-14 11:42:38

Wouldn't trust the Reigate mafia one bit. Not my words may I add. Fenton not consistent. I was told one space left in year 9 and the latest he would accept was October gone. Now... Spaces appearing. By the way they are short in year 8 so your safe there. RGS are all for themselves always will be. RGS Kids are horrible on the coach to dunottar kids. If your have a sibling there, your in regardless. Love the way ex parents of dunottar shit stirring you know who you are. YOU loved dunottar don't forget. Can't wait to get out of this rude town. My neighbour has a year 11 student at Grammar and needs a tutor! Good luck Grammar. It will always be a Dunottar site something We will always boast about.

nononsense1 Fri 17-Jan-14 11:47:31


bookluva Fri 17-Jan-14 11:48:14

They probably believed financial support WOULD be offered. Bearing in mind the ££££££millions. Benefits to RGS they were conned.

NikkiSurrey Fri 17-Jan-14 11:55:47

I don't really want to get involved in this, but I'm not willing to see RGS slagged off by people who are acting on gossip and speculation. The fact is that RGS has been trying very hard to help Dunottar with the very difficult situation the school finds itself in.
Dunottar had already spent many months exploring many different options to try to increase funds/ gain financial support and increase numbers. It approached RGS as a guarantor as a 'last resort' last July.
Had RGS not stepped in, then Dunottar would have had to shut immediately, rather than being given some time to try to sort out an alternative plan.
The RGS governors were asked to get involved to bring new blood, ideas and expertise, since RGS is clearly a school which is 'working' (financially) and Dunottar wasn't.

I know many of the RGS governors, and they are all lovely, hard-working, dedicated people with busy lives, jobs and families.They have genuinely tried hard to work through some alternative scenarios. A loan was offered, but not yet taken up by D, I believe.

Dunottar has been losing students constantly for many years. There is obviously something about the 'model' which just hasn't been working well enough for it. Or perhaps their recruitment and marketing has been too weak?
RGS would be foolish to simply throw money at Dunottar to save it temporarily unless there was a clear plan for a viable future. RGS has a responsibility to its own parents and school community too.

I understand that the Dunottar parents have set up an action group to see if it can be saved. Perhaps people should channel their energies into that rather than indulging in gossip and speculation here. Let's not forget that the school needs MORE parents and pupils, and needs to build on its very positive history and achievements.
By slagging off all and sundry here people will likely put off existing parents and may well help create the very scenario they are trying to avoid.

Idle talk costs... etc

bookluva Fri 17-Jan-14 13:30:20

Do we have a troll?

NikkiSurrey Fri 17-Jan-14 13:54:50

No - not a troll - have been here for over a decade actually!

People are understandably upset, angry and emotional today, but the vitriol being targeted at RGS is completely out of order and very unhelpful, especially as some of the accusations are completely unfounded.

Yes, I am a RGS parent, but my neice is a Dunottar girl, and I think both schools are truly excellent at what they do. Today I am seeing messages and posts calling RGS greedy and criminal etc, and it's completely unwarranted.

The sad fact is that Dunottar has had problems for many years. These things don't happen overnight. The decline started back at the beginning of the recession at a time when the former head was on long-term sick leave. Numbers began to fall, classes merged etc. That's when the (then) governors and management team should have been taking action.

Parents are angry, and are looking to vent that anger on someone... anyone in fact.

These kind of public spats can only harm Dunottar's future, and undermine any chance of renegotiation or regeneration in the future.

ChocolateWombat Fri 17-Jan-14 14:34:40

I agree with Nikki. Dunottar has obviously had problems for ages. Numbers declined and declined. Closure was likely if not inevitable. Sad for the staff and pupils, but not the fault of Reigate Grammar. The decline meant they could close at short notice last year or seek some kind of merger which would give them a slim chance of survival, or at least buy them time. The chances of staying open must have been very small, especially once they closed the Junior section. Why would numbers for the Senior school suddenly pick up at that point? However, both pupils and staff have had time to find alternatives, which they wouldn't have had without the merger.
I think ultimately Reigate Grammar will benefit, but they are not the ones who have brought about the decline of Dunottar. it has been going on for a long time. Schools reach a point when they are not viable and Dunottar has been close to this for ages. The challenge then becomes how to manage it. Schools can close with very little notice, leaving everyone up the creek. Or due notice can be given to allow people time to find alternatives. The merger rang warning bells for lots of people who then looked for alternatives. They had the time to do this, as did staff. Others still have time for September. I understand even if Dunottar closes it will keep going for classes part way through exam classes. Don't know how that will work out. I should think any parental campaign to keep it going is likely to fail because the numbers simply aren't there to make it work, however I u deist and they are desperate. Perhaps it is time to accept the inevitable and make the most of the time available now to find alternatives, rather than burying heads in the sand and thinking it can survive.
Sad, but a fact of life when schools need certain numbers to be viable. I guess many people want someone to blame and Reigate Grammar is an easy target......but the whole issue goes back much further clearly.
Sorry for such a long post.

LIZS Fri 17-Jan-14 15:56:56

I meant more generous financial assistance in terms of attracting pupils, not that RGS were supporting D financially(or not). I gather the head takes opportunities to go round state schools, invite their pupils to drama, music etc and give them the sales pitch.

Bellie Fri 17-Jan-14 16:42:30

None of what I have said is idle speculation, and people are perfectly entitled to post their opinions and what they know as fact on a public forum.

Yes there was a loan to Dunottar. It was given back AS IT WAS NOT NEEDED. There is no debt, no horrendous financial crisis.
Yes there are low numbers but the only reason that they fell this term was that RGS took girls from Dunottar outside of the normal transfer process, outside of the normal examination arrangements and outside of the fee termination process.

The numbers for the entrance examination this year at year 7 and year 9 were the highest for over 5 years. The local community had started to return with the faith that the Grammar were standing by a school in some trouble.

Instead, at the first sign of recovery, they have pulled the plug because as another poster has already said, if pupil numbers rose it would have been harder to do this in subsequent years.

Interesting this will also leave Reigate with one independent senior school. Sadly the M&M commission does not cover charitable trusts.

nononsense1 Fri 17-Jan-14 17:17:04

Well said Bellie. Could not have said it better. Your right the numbers did increase . Obviously we have hit a nerve with the costa coffee mums.

bookluva Fri 17-Jan-14 17:36:00

Well said Bellie and nononesense1. Just for the record, Mr Walker's speech at the prize giving evening last September is a FACT and not gossip. The Year 9s leaving for RGS and being told they had to start immediately - thus triggering an escalation in the decline of numbers - is also a FACT not gossip. This is no longer a Dunottar versus RGS discussion. People are genuinely angry about how Dunottar has been treated by the board of trustees, which is dominated by RGS. Dunottar never had a chance.

tom2468tom Fri 17-Jan-14 18:07:58

It is such a shame that there is such bad feeling. Dunottar is a great school but, apparently, too small.
Not that my opinion matters, but itlooksnow that Dunottar trustees must have been pretty close to deciding on a closure last year. I guess, with hindsight, it was always an odd thing for Dunottar to do - go cap in hand to the grammar. It now seems it was a last desperate death throw.

Part of me wishes that they had just been honest then and told people that there was a crisis a year ago and not gone near the grammar but maybe that wasn't possible for some reason? If parents had been told the extent of the problems then they could have done something to sort out the future of the school withoutall this bad feeling.

Whether the new Dunottar Governors, the old ones, the headmistress etcetc have all done enough to boost numbers over the last few years is hard to tell when the news is all a big shock but it does seem such a shame that something more wasnt done much sooner?

ChocolateWombat Fri 17-Jan-14 18:11:55

I would agree that Dunottar never had a chance but for different reasons. It never had a chance due to the decline in numbers. The evident lack of investment there in recent years shows they have not had much spare cash. Even if there was a small increase in interest, it was still going to be a smaller school due to the lack of the younger years which had already closed. How many pupils do you think a school needs to be able to offer a broad curriculum and run viable sized exam classes and maintain a site to the standards expected in this day and age?
Once people can see the numbers are iffy they get cold feet and start moving. As you say this triggers more to leave and a downward spiral. However, the numbers were at the critical point before all the merger stuff.
You might not feel the school has been treated right by Reigate Grammar, but that is a side issue and not the real reason for the school closing. It would have happened whether Reigate Grammar were involved or not.....just sooner probably.
I agree it is a shame there will only be 1 independent school. Reigate Grammar isn't right for everyone and choice is always good. However, Dunottar girls don't have to go there and never have been made to. It has been their choice if they have moved. I also really don't think Reigate Grammar would expect to benefit in terms of numbers long term from this. The kind of girls who went to Dunottar didn't want to go the Reigate Grammar (which is fair enough,It doesn't suit everyone) and those kind of girls probably still won't want to go there, especially in the longer term, when younger girls looking for secondaries have more time to think about their options.
I am really sorry for all the girls and their families who now have to look for other options....because this isn't what they planned. I'm also sorry for the staff and hope they will be getting decent redundancy.

ChocolateWombat Fri 17-Jan-14 18:17:15

Tom, yes I agree it was slightly odd that they approached the Reigate Grammar for help. I think they did know closure was likely, but it bought them some time. The closure that would have happened in summer 2013 will now be 2014. For those that realised closure was likely, they had more time to get alternatives sorted. Perhaps some really thought it might survive.....seems naieve (sp?) to me, but perhaps as Tom says,n the school should have been more honest about the likelihood of closure, because desperate people will cling to hope.

nononsense1 Fri 17-Jan-14 18:26:03

mmm, 6 governors RGS vs 3 Dunottar. Everyone forgets RSM were in the poo in 2004 and RGS bailed them out because there was an opportunity of that junior school being a feeder. You are right, and thank you for mentioning about the children and all the staff. After all, we are forgetting that the impact on these kids is devastating. Parents are angry that it has come to this because we feel that RGS have been laughing at us. You have NOT got a great reputation and I am glad people can see you for what you are. It is obvious that Dunottar have a fantastic reputation - even in a crisis. Lets hope it never happens to your kids.

tom2468tom Fri 17-Jan-14 18:41:19

It is such a shame that there is such bad feeling. Dunottar is a great school but, apparently, too small.
Not that my opinion matters, but itlooksnow that Dunottar trustees must have been pretty close to deciding on a closure last year. I guess, with hindsight, it was always an odd thing for Dunottar to do - go cap in hand to the grammar. It now seems it was a last desperate death throw.

Part of me wishes that they had just been honest then and told people that there was a crisis a year ago and not gone near the grammar but maybe that wasn't possible for some reason? If parents had been told the extent of the problems then they could have done something to sort out the future of the school withoutall this bad feeling.

Whether the new Dunottar Governors, the old ones, the headmistress etcetc have all done enough to boost numbers over the last few years is hard to tell when the news is all a big shock but it does seem such a shame that something more wasnt done much sooner?

ChocolateWombat Fri 17-Jan-14 18:48:50

Nononsense, I don't think anyone is laughing at you. I think people in the town will be very aware that for the girls, staff and their families this is an awful position. No one would wish it on anyone. People may not be entirely surprised in light of the decline in numbers over time, but still sorry it has happened.
Something like this is bound to make those involved very sensitive, but please don't feel people are laughing at you. I really don't think people at the Reigate Grammar would laugh either. Parents can empathise with other parents and staff empathise with other staff and children.
I don't agree with all your criticism of Reigate Grammar, but understand that when feelings are very raw, people look for outside forces to blame. I just reiterate that Im sorry for those affected.

LIZS Fri 17-Jan-14 18:53:24

I think it is a shame that once again the uncertainty comes after the normal application process for alternative schools is well underway , if not completed, so girls who are potentially displaced are left to be considered at reserve dates or once the first round of offers and acceptances are made. Surely this further undermines the creditability of the governors and management team.

nononsense1 Fri 17-Jan-14 19:18:05

ChocolateWombat, you will not change the views of Dunottar parents on here. As you probably gathered Dunottar are a close community and all our comments seem to be aiming at one place here - that will never change. You could have done so much more for Dunottar and I would love to see RGS not getting their hands on our land. Try somewhere else.

ChocolateWombat Fri 17-Jan-14 19:51:32

Nothing more to say really. I wish everyone all the best for the future and hope whatever the next stages are, they proceed as smoothly as possible.

I didn't expect to alter the view of Dunottar parents but hope I have enough empathy to understand a little bit of why they are held. But I do know about the topic of school closure, numbers, long term trends in schools and the different ways other struggling schools have approached and dealt with similar issues. I am also local and know a variety of people connected with the school, so have been able to relate my broader knowledge to what has been going on in Reigate. I just wanted to present a different view of it, to that of the upset parents. I know you will continue to be upset about it all. It is upsetting.

As I say, I wish everyone all the best and a smooth transition to whatever comes next.

NikkiSurrey Fri 17-Jan-14 20:30:18

RGS isn't laughing at anyone nononsense1 in fact all the RGS parents I have spoken to are very sad about the whole situation.

I just find all this lashing out at RGS unhelpful and spiteful. If parents approached RGS and want to enrol their children, what were they meant to do? Leave school places open indefinitely for them? And the sweeping generalisations about all 'RGS kids are horrible' to Dunottar kids are just plain silly.

Wombat talks a lot of sense. Looks like the RGS relationship was all about buying a bit of time to make better sense of the situation. In July 2013 when the auditors refused to sign off the accounts Dunottar would have had to shut its doors literally overnight - an even worse situation than currently. Let's not forget that Dunottar approached RGS as a last resort, when all other approaches had failed.

If the numbers are as close as is being suggested then I'm sure the parents action group will be able to do something. However I suspect it's not as straightforward as it might seem.

It's always a difficult situation when there is a hint that a school might be in trouble. People's loyalty is tested when their childs education is at stake. I'll bet most parents at Dunottar have been on the phone to other schools today, even if they're not admitting it.

I know many current Dunottar parents and I'm glad to say that none of them share the negativity for RGS expressed here.

Like Wombat, I wish Dunottar families a smooth transition, and the very best of luck at a difficult time.

nononsense1 Fri 17-Jan-14 21:25:40

Agree to disagree.

bookluva Fri 17-Jan-14 22:29:54

Likewise. How many other schools describe themselves as a family? This is why everyone's in so much pain. It's like a bereavement.

batman1 Fri 17-Jan-14 23:40:31

One question, why was Dunottar school not embraced by RGS and included on their websitewebsite? It is now looking as though the charities commission may not allow the closure as proposed.

Sallysavedunottarschool Sat 18-Jan-14 00:29:01

Dunottar mums please follow me on twitter @savedunottar, parents action group against poss closure needs your support please xxx

Sallysavedunottarschool Sat 18-Jan-14 00:43:37

Please can I ask all of you on this thread to follow @savedunottar on twitter and share these important comments? Urgent please x

Sallysavedunottarschool Sat 18-Jan-14 00:45:40

Dunottar mums, dads, we need your comments and support on our twitter page pleased?? @savedunottar, meeting at school 10am tomorrow parent action group against closure x

Sallysavedunottarschool Sat 18-Jan-14 00:49:24

No ill feeling towards grammar parents or pupils, not at all, I would hope that they are as horrified as we are about what has not been given and what stands to be gained. If the boot was on the other foot I'm sure grammar parents would feel exactly the same, they are nice, good people. Please, all support us?! This is about our children, that is all smile @savedunottar

Loopytiles Sat 18-Jan-14 07:16:43

Am not in the area, or with any specialist skills, but take an interest in private school closures/finances.

If there isn't sufficient demand in the area for single sex girls school in addition to RGS, RGS would surely have made this assessment before getting involved, so if RGS will now get all the assets for no or very little investment ( is that the case?), it does seem to an outsider like "asset stripping".

bookluva Sat 18-Jan-14 07:21:11

Another thought following batman1: RGS promised Dunottar a new website and brochure for last September but it didn't deliver the goods. Now we know why.

LadyMuck Sat 18-Jan-14 08:19:29

If the Dunottar land is really that valuable then surely the trustees could have explored some way of unlocking the value?

tom2468tom Sat 18-Jan-14 09:01:58

I think loopytiles has a point, is there enough demand? I guess Dunottar

Bellie Sat 18-Jan-14 09:06:38

Loopy tiles. Your assessment is indeed correct. No investment at all.

Interestingly they were also not interested in trying to make cost savings. Dunottar put proposals that would save £150,00 a year by joint purchasing and joint administration. Rgs turned this down.
There was never a genuine intent to help.

StarWarsStanley Sat 18-Jan-14 09:56:09

Hello everyone / I'm just trying to follow this thread - is it true that Dunnottar is actually closing then? Have letters been sent out to parents informing them the date they will close?

Or, is this still a matter that closure is still threatened but not actually yet happened?

Sorry if this is going over old ground - could someone clarify this for me please?


LIZS Sat 18-Jan-14 10:04:07

It is reported as a consultation period here, so not definite yet. However I could imagine there will be only be further fall out and decline in numbers as parents seek potential places elsewhere. I would imagine that the nature of the trust means that selling off tracts of land is not an option, although that is what Reigate St Marys did in a bid to expand and survive about 10 years ago, pre-RGS merger. It may even be that the land was bequeathed for educational purposes only, or with similar restrictions.

AfricanExport Sat 18-Jan-14 10:32:11

I think this is very sad and I hope that they manage to save the school, we know lots of girls at Dunnottar. Dd is in year 8 and we looked at Dunnottar for high school. There were loads of girls at the assessment but it seemed to be the 'back up school'. .. it was our first choice. As dd is dyslexic the additional SEN assistance was going to put the price higher than Moon Hall (a specialist dyslexic school) which seemed over the top really. . she. needs minimum help at this point, so for us they were overpriced for what you got.

The head had such high hopes for the RGS help. . and talked about how it was going to work. I think it's really sad and if RGS ends up with that land I think I would have serious doubts about their governors and their ethics... Time will tell.

By the way growing up in SA I knew of three English schools... Eton, Rhodean and Dunnottar. . so I consider it quite an important English school

AfricanExport Sat 18-Jan-14 10:34:34

Just realised I've spelt it wrong angry sorry

Loopytiles Tue 21-Jan-14 20:11:30

lizs, the land being beqeueathed for educational use wouldn't necessarily be an issue for a school taking over, if they were looking for local land to expand. But maybe there are other rules.

nononsense1 Tue 21-Jan-14 20:37:12

Parents from Dunottar really are proving their loyalty. Certainly making progress . Just need to get governors we trust which shouldn't be too difficult. Come on dunottar...

tom2468tom Tue 21-Jan-14 22:37:36

It is still a really sad situation. Lots of people falling out over this. I hear that Lingfield ND school has a growing number of DS girls being transferred to there at Easter by there parents and that they are moving son because there are limited places available at Lingfield ND.

Do you think that there will be just a few who will leave or will the future be in doubt forever more now? If there weree too few before, when girls are taken out by their parents at Easter and, I guess, at September ....... I wonder, on the flip side, whether any new girls have joined Dunottar now that they are much more in the public domain?

I guess that the cmpaign group will probably propose going co-ed to attract more students. What do you think?

Sheldonswhiteboard Tue 21-Jan-14 23:06:47

That's a very interesting question tom, there is a fair amount of evidence that indicates that single sex education is better for girls but co-ed better for boys.
The number of pupils at Dunottar has fallen over a number of years - is this because single sex schools have had their day - I don't think so, other single sex schools, both boys and girls appear to be holding their own?
When my DD took the entrance exam there a few years ago, we did view it as our back up school and I would agree with African up thread that whilst there were reasonable numbers of girls at both open days and exam days when we talked amongst ourselves, many parents were like us and had applied for other schools as first choices.
I wonder if Dunottar has undertaken any research as to why offers don't convert to girls joining, I would have thought this would be interesting information to enable them to take actions that make parents think of them as the first choice?
If I were making the decision I would move Dunottar to co-ed, it would increase their market and if it is true that girls will be leaving at Easter they need to get the numbers up quickly. If numbers of them are moving to ND it indicates that the parents aren't that wedded to single sex education. I think there is a market for a less selective co-ed in the area. I hope they can resolve the situation quickly to minimise the undoubted stress that this must be causing to the girls, parents and staff.

boo97 Wed 22-Jan-14 14:44:54

I, like tom, think this is such a sad situation.
I also think it is such a shame that the parents action group is focusing so much on laying the blame solely on RGS. At the risk of outing myself - I made the decision to move my daughter from Dunottar to RGS the week before the consultation period for the closure of the Dunottar junior school was announced last year. The reason for this was that my daughter was being badly bullied and the headship team at Dunottar did nothing effective to stop the bullying or deal with the culprits.
I understand that Dunottar has been fantastic for some of my daughter's friends and why they feel it is like a family but sadly this was far from our experience.
The numbers at the school have been declining for some years now so perhaps the PAG should look more closely at the school itself and why the original team of Dunottar Governors had to go to RGS for help in the first place.
Both schools are essentially businesses and I am not naive enough to think that when the original board of Governors at Dunottar went to RGS, that RGS as a business, would be not be looking at the opportunities that were presented to them. Those people that said they didn't see this coming were fooling themselves.

I now feel very sad that the good friends that we had kept in touch with at Dunottar now feel unable to talk to us because my daughter is at RGS.
My daughter is finding it very difficult to understand why she is losing the few (lovely) friends she had kept in touch with, for something that she has absolutely no control over.
Demonising the RGS pupils and parents will help not help Dunottars cause and I really do hope, for the sake of the girls that are happy at Dunottar, that the PAG succeed. I wouldn't wish the current situation on anyone.

ChocolateWombat Wed 22-Jan-14 17:37:06

Agree with Boo. The real cause of closure goes back many years. Dunottar would never have gone to RGS unless desperate. I really believe they knew closure was very likely, but the merger bought them time to manage it better rather than have a sudden closure.

The chances of survival diminish every day, despite what the Parents group do. The likelihood of closure is in the public domain. Every day more Dunottar girls visit alternative schools and reduce the numbers. This further spooks any who haven't looked into alternatives yet. Of those who have applied for Year7, how many will now still want to come. It is a downward spiral which I think must be irreversible whatever a dedicated parent group do. And I think the downward slide has been going on for years and years. The merger in some ways delayed it (because closure would have come in 2013 without it and everyone would have left at once). By going to RGS time was bought, but the numbers jumping ship has increased over time.

These seem to be the facts. Everything else about what RGS have and have not done since the merger are side issues and don't affect the fact that closure was imminent.

bookluva Thu 23-Jan-14 08:13:05

Chocolatewombat: 'Every day more Dunottar girls visit alternative schools and reduce the numbers': you really need to get your facts straight because this isn't really a forum for idle speculation. I work in one of the local schools and I know that most of the Heads are being incredibly sympathetic towards the girls and supportive towards Dunottar. Less than a handful of students have left since the parent consultation period started. The girls and parents are looking around local schools and are being offered places as BACK UP in case Dunottar closes. Their full intention is to stay at Dunottar if it remains open. The articles in today's Surrey Mirror show the strength of feeling by parents, who have formed an action group. These parents are paying a lot of money for their daughters to be educated so they'll be professionals doing the types of jobs that earn big money. This is Reigate, for goodness sake. I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss them. It'll be very interesting to hear what they propose at the end of the consultation period. Surely you can't be so naive as to think their proposal would ignore a business plan to boost numbers. Less scaremongering and gossip, please.

batman1 Thu 23-Jan-14 08:49:33

Why have RGS decided to "pull the plug" after such a short period of "support"? Why did they decide to support Dunottar in the first place? Until these questions are answered convincingly their intentions will remain highly suspect. Not good for the school's reputation.

nononsense1 Thu 23-Jan-14 12:27:54

Chocolatewombat. You have no idea what you are saying. Come on Bookluva ! Yes Batman 1 why did RGS decide to support. I wonder. Yes less scaremongering and gossip. Those costa coffee mums again. Not going to say which Head at a Private School called them the Reigate Mafia! Agreed. Parents looking because we need a BACK UP! Dunottar was our first choice. Get a grip parents of RGS. Your school is not closing so get off this forum!

nononsense1 Thu 23-Jan-14 12:28:48

Like I say Greed .

nononsense1 Thu 23-Jan-14 12:33:21

By the way don't knock our parents group. They are working tirelessly to support this school. Giving up a lot of their time because we DONT WANT OUR BACK UP SCHOOLS as you politely suggest!

batman1 Thu 23-Jan-14 13:01:18

Every day that goes by the probability of Dunottar surviving increases and it now looks almost certain. People make a difference and the action group have some resourceful, talented and influential people. The broadcast on Radio Surrey was a case in point. All schools have their "ups and downs". I taught at the school when there were 460 girls on role. Numbers go up and down and adjustments to staff are made accordingly. There are sufficient potential parents out there to be attracted to Dunottar which has out performed many other schools in the area. This can happen again if can avoid being hijacked.

Sheldonswhiteboard Thu 23-Jan-14 13:07:31

nononsense1, this is a public forum and this thread going by the title, was set up to discuss a matter that potentially impacted both schools so I don't know why you think you can tell RGS parents to leave the thread. I expect that there are a mixture of Dunottar, RGS and other local parents who have contributed to this thread and we all have the concern of educating our children. Of course this directly impacts Dunottar girls far more than anyone else but your lashing out at a Reigate "mafia" and "Costa Coffee mums" does your cause no favours. You need the whole community to rally around, I hope you are not in charge of the PR for the Dunottar campaign.

I wish the parents group well and hope they can agree a way forward for the school.

Sheldonswhiteboard Thu 23-Jan-14 13:11:57

batman1 that sounds like good news.

elsma Thu 23-Jan-14 13:19:41

Hello: you know what? This is absolutely not about the mums, dads or pupils at either school and to make it personal and a war between people who want the best for their own kids is unfortunate.
I do know a bit about this. I am a Dunottar mum and on the action group. It appears that the original trustees were hasty in their assessment and that the school was not under threat of closure. Sure it had some issues, but the overall health was OK. The RGS Group (lets keep this about the governing body and not another fine local school) stepped in because they were asked. What happened next feels uncomfortable... they did lend support but it appears to have been calculated and minimal. No money was given to bail anyone out. There was no need.
Certainly Dunottar families felt comforted that the RGS Group would give the school breathing space to fix their marketing and get themselves on an even footing. The shock came when - almost on the anniversary of the first announcement - we were told of a consultation.
Personally I cannot see how anyone would expect a school to turn itself around within one calendar year and had expected we'd have at least two or three years to make a go of it.
Upshot is, it is a small community and many people had a child at each school. And that is the key: choice. It isn't "us and them" it can't be. It must be "us". Parents who care for our own and other children. We all need to show the children the best of ourselves at times like these.

Bolligog Thu 23-Jan-14 13:34:27

Please, all, we are all parents, we all care about our children and their education. We mustn't let this divide parents. Parents trying to find a solution to the problem do not have an issue with grammar parents, grammar pupils or grammar teachers & head. This is about finding out the facts and then, whoever you are, deciding if they sit ok with you. What we have discovered to date does not sit well with us and that is why we are seeking to learn more. Please, utilise the facilities we have provided, the website www.dunottarvoice.com, Facebook Save Dunottar School, twitter @savedunottar, email your thoughts to actiongroup@dunottarschool.com. Raise your own questions, ask us, we all have the right to information and facts upon which to base our decisions and action, it will be a travesty if this divides a community.

boo97 Thu 23-Jan-14 13:56:09

Well said elsma and Bolli.
I made my comments because I feel saddened that there appears to be so much ill feeling towards RGS (parents, pupils and staff). I just wanted to make the point that it would be worth looking at what is happening at Dunottar itself, that has caused the down turn in pupil numbers - no matter how small. The Social media sites set up by the PAG did not seem like the right place to try and put forward what I hoped would be seen as constructive critisism - however crassly I put it. Despite what happened to my daughter at Dunottar, we still have very good friends there and I hate seeing all of the girls and parents going through this. I really do wish the PAG all the best and if anyone from the PAG wants to know more about my and my daughters experiences of Dunottar and why I chose to move her - feel free to message me.

elsma Thu 23-Jan-14 13:58:35

thanks, boo - as I said it is about the right school for a child and us being able to have choice. They need different things.
I'm so sorry that your child was not happy and hope that they are now.

batman1 Thu 23-Jan-14 14:01:07

Ok, this could put an end to all of this, the implications will be serious but the truth either way will come out.

The Charities commission should be asked to carry out a full investigation as to what has happened. If there is wrong doing, sharp practice or gross incompetence then a binding directive to compensate could made.

nononsense1 Thu 23-Jan-14 16:25:39

Like your comment batman 1 .

nononsense1 Thu 23-Jan-14 16:29:00

Shelsdonwhiteboard how has this potentially impacted RGS? Really?

ChocolateWombat Thu 23-Jan-14 16:50:27

Good luck to the PAG group. I wish them well and of course it is right to check to see if any options remain to keep the school going successfully long term. If they are then, then I'm sure this dedicated group will find them.
I don't speak on behalf of either school, as I've said before, just as an interested observer interested in demand and supply and markets for education. Because at the end of the day we are talking about a market for education. I totally get that it is emotional for people and that individuals education and careers are affected here, but the bottom line will be the market and the long term financial viability of the school.
Some posters are suggesting the demand is there. If it is, in sufficient numbers for the long term, then the school might survive. Hard though, with doubt cast over it. I would like to see it survive, because choice is good and the other school isn't right for everyone. Wanting it to work though isn't the same thing as it being viable. That is all I have ever been saying. If I'm shown to be wrong in my assessment of the situation, then I will be pleased. And whatever the outcome I am sorry that Dunottar girls and staff are going through such a horrid time.

Sheldonswhiteboard Thu 23-Jan-14 16:53:26

As I said previously in my post, when the thread was originally set up it did potentially impact both schools. I don't think as parents we had a huge amount of communication about this so naturally both sets of parents would want to understand what this meant for them.

The latest turn of events has of course impacted Dunottar far more but there have been all manner of accusations on this thread regarding RGS, it's parents and their children.

I'm not going to comment further except to say that I am pleased from some of the other posts today, that Dunottar has got some sensible level headed individuals working for it and good luck to them.

Jimihendrix Thu 23-Jan-14 22:39:38

It's such a pity to argue with each other. What example are we setting the children? The girls at Dunottar are being so brave. And it's nothing to do with the RGS kids. Let's hope it's resolved soon. Let's pray Dunottar is saved and RGS continues to flourish. Both schools are brilliant, very different but brilliant. My daughter loves Dunottar. I'm not sure she would thrive at RGS. That's why we chose Dunottar. But that's because we had a choice! Long live choice.
Let's find out all the facts and move on. Peacefully.

tom2468tom Thu 23-Jan-14 23:16:40

I was reading this thread again as it is in my watch list. I realised that I thought I knew what was going on and now I dont. Nothing new there!

I am not a parent at either school yet but have been told that a growing number are leaving at Easter and more are saying that they are going to move to Box Hill in the summer. This seems such a shame but I guess Dunottar are doing something to try to keep them so it may be that I am behind the times and it will swing back the other way.

OR what are the alternatives - This is my main query - are the people in the Action Group proposing to save Dunottar or to close DUnottar and start a new school that is a co-ed comp? I saw the twitter thread and that seemed to be all about Dunottar but I also read a few comments in here about a new coed comp? Can anyone help me understand as these seem two very different idas for a school. Maybe, as I am not a parent, I have missed something that hasn't hit the press yet by way of a proposal?????

Bolligog Thu 23-Jan-14 23:38:22

Tom, the parent action group is looking at many possibilities including those you mention. The most accurate account of the facts and current situation can be found by following @savedunottar, save Dunottar school on FB & www.dunottarvoice.com. You will then be getting information direct from source, please do follow the progress and via those sources, add your own input smile

Bolligog Fri 24-Jan-14 20:22:03

I am very much in the midst of the Parent Action Group (PAG) and I can assure you all that there are in excess of 120 very level headed and sensible, professional people representing the PAG, and that number is growing every day. With that in mind, it is a reasonable assumption that these People would not be wasting precious time and resources if they did not have confidence that their enquiries and efforts are justified, indeed essential. Anyone who posts nasty remarks does not represent us, and should consider that in the same way that the PAG is acting in the best interests of all of our children, their remarks may damage all of our children. I assure you that we do not have an axe to grind with parents, pupils, teachers or the head of RGS. We understand and accept that pupil numbers at Dunottar have declined. We understand too that it was Dunottar that approached RGS for help. The purpose of the PAG is to research what events & decisions have resulted in proposed school closure. Alongside these enquiries, the PAG is strategically investigating the viability of a successful future for Dunottar and what form that might take. The two schools are very different and cater for different children. There is a place for both schools within our community. Consider this, if Dunottar closes, one private school will remain. If for any reason that school is not suitable for your child, or your child for it, then your child will likely need to travel out of area for comparable schooling. It may be, although unlikely, that after this situation has been fully evaluated, that indeed a future for Dunottar is not viable. But, I personally believe we must all, as parents representing either school, know that we have been in possession of all information & facts before we can accept closure with a clear conscience. We all owe it to all of our children, our community & education. Any one of us could so easily have had a child at the other school, many do have children in both. What I'm saying is, that the boot could so easily be on the other foot, and when everyone opens themselves up to the facts, they will understand why we do not accept this. RGS parents, please, it is crucial that you question & challenge too. There is no place in this situation for hearsay, rumours, gossip or chat, it is too important to accept anything less than facts, only then form your opinion and act on it. We must not allow this to divide us, we are all parents, we all want the best for our children. If you would like to find out more please visit the DunottarVoice.com website, and for specific questions email actiongroup@dunottarschool.com

DunottarVoice Fri 24-Jan-14 20:33:37

Dear All, there are over 120 hardworking Parents involved in Parent Action Group (PAG) supporting Dunottar School for Girls. There is substantial professional skills being gifted free of charge to ensure the school has a secure future. There is significant confidence that their investigations and efforts are entirely justified and indeed, essential as there appears to be no credible evidence for closure at present. The financial position and pupil reduction is not as it is being represented in the press. DunottarVoice.com will publish key facts over the next few days to provide clarity as the PAG moves forward.

The Parent Action Group will not respond to unpleasant remarks or engage in debate. The Parent Action Group is keen to engage parents of RGS and other schools, together with the wider public who care about maintaining a choice for parents in Reigate, the education of 200 current girls and the retention of almost 100 jobs that Dunottar School provides. Therefore we ask everyone, regardless of the school their children attends, to be respectful of one another.

If you would like to find out more please visit the DunottarVoice.com website or send questions to email actiongroup@dunottarschool.com

Thank you.

LadyMuck Sat 25-Jan-14 10:01:44

I'm not sure that I understand why there is an issue over having "only" one independent school in Reigate. Surely that's what would be expected for a town of the size. And presumably for boys there IS in fact only one private school?

lostinsurrey Sat 25-Jan-14 10:57:19

Well done to PAG for your drive to see what can be done to save the school and jobs. With the area in line for over 2,000 new homes we should be opening schools not closing.

Remember it is a School then a Charity then a Business. In light of the recent financial crisis and having looked at the accounts on the Charities Comission website the School would be given a far higher rating than the Banks which are supposed to be Businesses!!

I hope that a solution can be found and lessons learnt.

batman1 Sat 25-Jan-14 19:05:58

My own view is that Dunottar should remain an all girls school. There is the demand
and with and with dynamic, creative and inspirational leadership, the school would thrive.

shockedbunny Sun 26-Jan-14 10:11:50

I must say DunottarVoice, the parent action group seem to be doing everything that they can to save what is clearly a much loved school and in my opinion is one that should stay open for the sake of the parents choice in Reigate (although as LadyMuck says there is currently only one if you are a parent of boys!)

However, I am incredibly uncomfortable with the way you and the parent group seem to be trying to stop all open debate on the subject. Mumsnet (and all other forums like this!) are for exactly that - open debate and opinion.
Surely if you want to want to find out what the questions and discussion is in the community you should be encouraging the debate. I would have thought that it would help you investigate other areas for your campaign.

There is clearly something that the parental group are discovering and there may be some wrong doing, but you cannot control the conversations of people. This to me feels that you as a group are trying to shape everyones opinions to the same as yours. You have directed us all to a website that is obviously a very pro Dunottar website, but telling us this is where to find the facts. All I see on there is a list of positive comments from current and past pupils and some press releases that you have made. There is very little on there that is not already being discussed in the coffee shops in Reigate and on the sidelines of the football and rugby games that have been going on this weekend. You said that the parental action group is not going to engage in debate, and for us to be respectful. OK, there have been a few posts on here that have been a little personal and attacking, but most as far as I can see are throwing questions around that the entire population are asking. Debate that is challenging a decision and asking questions is healthy and to be quite honest something that you should be encouraging not trying to close down and control.

I have taken from this that there is no new information other than what the Surrey Mirror reported the other day.

Your passion for the saving of a beautiful looking school is clearly there, but will passion be enough? I hope so for all the efforts that are being put in, but at the moment I can't see that there you have any facts that change the very sad case that the Governors have decided to move to closure.

As I said at the beginning of this post, in my opinion I really think that there is a place for Dunottar in Reigate, and I do want you to succeed in your aim to do this, but the controlling nature of what you have said on here is alarming that you do not want to engage fully in the debate that will rage for months in the community.

tom2468tom Sun 26-Jan-14 14:56:49

Wow- I just went to the website and the Parents' Action Group - Dunottar Voice (is that the right name) is calling for Dunottar to go CO-ED and be a 'non-selective school'. Crikey.

I know that there is a lot of support for Dunottar as a girls' school that selects girls following an entrance exam (if enough apply for selection to be an issue) with its own distinct ethos, with the opportunities in the Sciences etc that a girls' only school can provide based on various studies suggesting that a Girls only school offers girls specific advntages etc. That all kinda makes sense and the huge support from old girls to save Dunottar has been really impressive.

It is an interesting development that the group set up to save Dunottar School for Girls now seems to want it to close and instead to open a co-ed comprehensive school.

I thought that the PAG was saying that they disagreed with the suggestion that Dunottar as it is (single sex etc) isn't viable? But if so, why would the PAG now say it is looking to start a new co-ed comprehensive school on the DUnottar site. That doen't seem to make sense? Will the new co-ed 'non-selective' school be given the Dunottar name? Will teachers who have not taught boys be the best ones for a co-ed school / will they want to stay? Does it save their jobs at all?

So, am I right, the PAG have decided that Dunottar School isn't viable but that a new co-ed school would be viable?

This is all very fast moving and I am not sure of the facts at all!

LadyMuck Sun 26-Jan-14 15:14:28

Judging by the other website, it already looks as if only a co-ed future is now being considered, though that would be a huge task, and it may be too late.

I've always been surprised that the Reigate schools have been loathe to look north for pupils. We only looked at RGS as we have boys but without a pickup from Redhill station it just wasn't feasible for us - we didn't feel that we could rely on a connecting train between Redhill and Reigate. We're only 20 minutes away, so it felt odd to have to cross it off the list, but transport links are pretty crucial. Schools such as Woldingham, Caterham, the 3 Dulwich schools and Trinity all pick up from my local station, whereas it seems nigh on impossible to get to Reigate.

I guess that the nearby competition would be Greenacre in Banstead?

LadyMuck Sun 26-Jan-14 15:21:55

Ooops, crossed with Tom.

I guess the new governors had done a fair bit of groundwork with regards to local prep schools numbers etc in deciding whether there were enough girls for both a co-ed and a single sex school in the area. I'm sure such a study would make interesting reading (in a slightly nerdy way). As someone who will end up spending £££ on education, I'm surprised at how little market research seems to be undertaken. I end up spending more time being quizzed about my car-buying processing that my school-buying process.

LIZS Sun 26-Jan-14 16:36:21

Seems very early in the consultation to backtrack on the belief in single sex education, either there is a market for it locally or there isn't . Greenacres seems to be increasingly popular.

tbh it has taken over 10 years and a change of head for LND to become perceived as a true co-ed option with significant investment in facilities and opportunities for boys. If that really was an option for D should it not have been pursued before they phased out the juniors which I understand did have some boys in EY/Pre-prep. Sorry but if that principle goes I fear D will very quickly become a second campus for RGS , even if technically independent of it, and probably not get to cherry pick its students. I feel particularly sorry for those parents who may have one child at D and another at RGS/RSM.

shockedbunny Sun 26-Jan-14 16:57:18

Only just seen todays press release on the Dunottar Voice website. I am surprised at the complete turn around this early in the consultation.
It only goes to reinforce that the Governors may have made the correct decision in the first place to move to closure, as obviously there is not the demand for a girls school in Reigate.

It seems a shame, as the value-add scores seem phenomenal!

What are Greenacres doing then if they are increasing numbers?
There is enough distance between them for both to be viable surely if the demand for single sex is there?

Given that RGS academically are becoming more selective, I would think that there is a place for another co-ed, but it would appear that it would become the second stream school to RGS which may not make it appealing to all. I am guessing that the RGS governors have probably looked at this option too and again found that given all the other co-ed schools in reasonable reach of Reigate - Caterham, LND, Box Hill, etc there probably is not a large enough market to support this approach either.

I'm also guessing that if they do manage to allow Dunottar to survive as a single sex, there will be a number of existing parents that remove their girls as they wanted the single sex approach and even if it saves the school co-ed is not what they wanted? This will make it harder to keep the numbers at viable levels in the first instance surely?

interesting times!

Bellie Sun 26-Jan-14 17:37:19

The latest press release does not mean that Dunottar will not survive.

If they do go co-ed surely this will be a good thing for Reigate? It will create more competition, and the value-add scores only support this!

The teachers will stay to retain the ethos and given that there are a shortage of senior school places, there has to be a place for a different approach to co-education in Reigate other than the hot house environment of RGS. This would work perfectly in my opinion!

ChocolateWombat Sun 26-Jan-14 18:05:19

I find the change of direction odd. Loads of people have posted that the big pro of Dunottar was it being single sex and how having a choice of single sex or co ed was important. Suddenly that argument has been scrapped. Seems perhaps there wasn't enough demand for girls only education.....which is what the falling numbers suggested and why it is under threat of closure.

I wonder how many parents are behind the idea of co ed Dunottar. I guess some chose it because it was single sex. They may not be keen for co ed. Will they want to keep their girls at Dunottar if it goes mixed? There are others who may have chosen it because they loved the atmosphere and it being less or not selective suited them better. I guess they may be prepared for co ed if it means saving the school.
However a co ed school is a totally different beast. It would change Dunottar a lot and the staff are teachers of girls. It's strengths as a girls school do not necessarily translate to co ed.

How long would it take to attract sufficient boys to make it viable? Parents would be taking a risk on an unknown and also an unknown which has had big questions over its future.

Reigate and Redhill are not huge places. There are other independent co ed schools offering alternatives to Reigate Grammar. Does it make sense to have 2 co od independent schools within a mile of each other?

I don't know, it just all seems so sudden and no clear reasoning for the change of direction has been given. Seems to confirm though that a girls school couldn't survive long term. Pity.

Oh and what about this change from PAG group to Dunottarvoice? Are the same people leading Dunottar voice to those who were leading before. I sense a change of tone in it all.

On a separate note, I agree with what ShockedBunny said up post about finding the posts discouraging debate strange and concerning. What does it mean that PAG won't engage in debate and why shouldn't people express views on a forum. The press releases from Dunottarvoice actually tell us very little.....actually they provoke speculation due to the lack of explanation for changes in direction.

We watch with interest.

batman11 Sun 26-Jan-14 21:13:11

Dunottar will remain a top girls school and will thrive once the current situation is sorted.

NikkiSurrey Sun 26-Jan-14 23:08:53

Agree - today's press release is very odd and unexpected indeed?

All the parents I know with girls at Dunottar chose it precisely for single sex education / nuturing/ pastoral care reasons. I can't imagine them staying if it goes co-ed.
(And I know that, like all the parents, they have already explored alternative options)
If I think about the boys I know who have gone to non-selective independent schools, they seem the least likely types to easily slot into a former girls school?
Just can't see how it would work... Seems as if the parents might end up saving a very different school!
Also the relationship with RGS would be really difficult - how would it set itself apart with a positive differentiation, rather than just 'less academic'?
Box Hill managed to sort of do this with its outdoorsy/ international links/ boarding etc.
Perhaps the plan is to get the school back from RGS ( hence the call for charity experts and barristers) and then it would be in competition with RGS perhaps for some of the 'middle ground' students who could go either way.

So I wonder what has led to this rather sudden decision? The PAG team are obviously working their socks off, and are to be applauded for that, but I have to agree with others in that the Dunottar Voice website doesn't really provide the answers to the big questions.

At the end of the day, it's probably the most exciting thing to happen in Reigate for a while ( apart from the fallen tree on Reigate Hill A217 wink ) so it's inevitable that people will want to discuss it!

batman11 Mon 27-Jan-14 08:30:26

Of course Dunottor will be freed from RGS. It may be the overwhelming demand for both boys and girls to be taught in a caring and focused enviroment that has "steered" the action group in this direction. It is my own hope that Dunottar remains a girls school but the demand for an alternative to RGS could prove to be irresistible.

LadyMuck Mon 27-Jan-14 09:10:06

"Of course Dunottor will be freed from RGS."

I thought that the majority of trustees were now RGS trustees? How exactly do you think that will happen?

The sudden move from selective girls school to non selective co-ed school, in the space of a week, won't exactly encourage the current round of applicants will it? Even Wilson's brief consultation on going coed has meant that many in the area believe that that is going to be the case (despite a whole u-turn in a very short space of time).

I do sympathise with the current parents who are worried about their dds though. Perhaps it may be worthwhile for the PAG group to talk to the former Crohom Hurst/Old Palace parents who were put into a difficult situation when those 2 schools (with very different ethos) merged a few years back.

NikkiSurrey Mon 27-Jan-14 09:42:42

Given how over-subscribed RGS has become, there is certainly demand in the Reigate area for good independent schooling, but this is such a massive change of direction, it feels like a mammoth task to try to plan in such a short space of time ( under the consultation timing).

I'd imagine existing v. academic Dunottar girls ( who, in my experience, are often the most 'anti-boy' anyway) would leave for RGS/ Caterham, so the school's current academic record would become irrelevant.
I agree too that many of the current teachers have probably made a positive decision to teach in a girls school, so may look to leave, when faced with the completely different prospect of a classful of boys.

I've been asked by friends, via twitter, to contribute to the 'fighting fund' but at the moment it's not clear what they're fighting for?!

batman11 Mon 27-Jan-14 09:48:27

Freed from the RGS trustees. This could happen soon after the charities commission investigation.

NikkiSurrey Mon 27-Jan-14 09:56:10

"Freed from the RGS trustees. This could happen soon after the charities commission investigation."

Or it might not... The Commission could take the view that since Dunottar approached RGS and signed an agreement there isn't really a 'case' to pursue?

I suspect this is exactly the sort of discussion the PAG/The Voice don't really want to have bandied around. Are you an official spokesperson for DV Batman?

batman11 Mon 27-Jan-14 10:03:24


Bellie Mon 27-Jan-14 10:21:05

Lots of rumouring as is likely to be in Reigate. As NikiSurrey says, outside of the flooding/storms/trees falling down this is the most exciting story in Reigate for ages.

Although not gospel, my understanding now is that the co-ed option was explored as a working proposal by the management and the governors.

The working group have now picked up on this, as they do not believe that the RGS governors fully explored this in the time they allowed from the proposal being put forward and the decision to issue closure notices.

It appears that the change in name is because of the wider group of people that are now involved in the action group. It is no longer just parents, but people from the local community, old girls, parents of prospective girls and actually parents of children at RGS and RSM.

I'm not the voice of the action group either btw.

elsma Mon 27-Jan-14 10:21:05

As a Dunottar mum who specifically picked a girls-only option, I'm not taking the co-ed thing lightly. That said, given the choice of schools available given where I live - co-ed Dunottar or no Dunottar, I've no girls-only choice.
So, pragmatically, I'd rather have a co-ed Dunottar than put my child into a school that I've already not chosen (IYSWIM)
Oh, another thing is this "non-selective" thing... I think that is lazy language rather than policy. I think it refers to not selective in a strongly academic way in the way that RGS and others are. It isn't going to "go comp" of that I am absolutely sure!
One thing I'm sure of is that people who are working day and night to develop a compelling business plan are probably constrained in the detail that they can share. So I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt until they can reveal all their cards on much of this.

NikkiSurrey Mon 27-Jan-14 10:35:40

The 'Voice' name now has me imagining Governors facing away in high-backed chairs, listening to the action group recommendations, then suddenly pressing their buttons, swivelling round and saying 'I want YOU...'


Or maybe not....

<Gets coat...> wink

batman11 Mon 27-Jan-14 12:59:03

Agree with elsma, don't think taking boys is a done deal, it's not. My hope is that it remains an all girls school. I have taught in a mixed school and an all girls school and it is clear that girls do better without boys and is the reason my own daughter went to a girls' School.

NikkiSurrey Mon 27-Jan-14 16:31:08

"don't think taking boys is a done deal, it's not"

But why on earth would they issue a press release saying this is the future they are now considering for the school?
As others have said, it looks as if the DV group have now seen all the data for the girls only option and had to come to the same unfortunate conclusion as the governors i.e. that this isn't viable in the medium to long term?

It would be very foolish of them to 'announce' the co-ed route if there was still any chance of the girls only option? It will only serve to give current and prospective parents increasing uncertainty and lack of confidence if they keep chopping and changing between the two. Parents would want to be reassured that there is clear direction, based on solid facts and a sound strategy.
If the school does continue (and I hope it does...) I do wonder how it will be managed going forward? It's great to have a 120-strong working group of professionals who swing into action in a crisis, but what happens when the initial excitement is over, and they all go back to their day jobs?

To be honest, I don't think they could do it without RGS to help - admitting boys would mean such a steep learning curve, especially at Secondary level.

batman11 Mon 27-Jan-14 17:03:16

You make a very good point, but the obvious is not always the outcome. It would be better in my opinion not to have a public running commentary on the thoughts of the action group. I am sure that there must be many issues that we do not know about so I think it would be better to wait and see what the final proposal is. I want both schools to do well, respect each other and to continue to excel in their own way.

LadyMuck Mon 27-Jan-14 17:16:17

Given that they are now fundraising for legal fees etc, it would be interesting to understand what legal form the action group is itself adopting? In whose name is a bank account being set up in which to store the donations?

In any event, in the short to medium term the action group, however well-intentioned, has very little legal power. That lies with the trustees.

batman11 Mon 27-Jan-14 17:34:38

As I said, better to wait and see what emerges in the next few weeks and then make a judgement based on the reality. RGS and Dunottar have got on well in the past , let's hope this will continue. Any legal stuff and bank details are not for this forum.

LadyMuck Mon 27-Jan-14 18:22:53

With respect batman11, not sure you can dictate what is or isn't discussed on these or other forums, provided we keep to the forum rules. I've landed up with requests for donations all over my twitter feed, so it isn't an unreasonable question for anyone to raise, especially those of us with either children in the current schools application round, or children at local schools who could be affected by an influx of pupils from Dunottar. Hopefully much of the current uncertainty will be resolved by 5 March or 11 March which I think is the RGS acceptance deadline. I'm assuming that the current consultation period is the one required for employment law purposes prior to redundancies that than anything else.

batman11 Mon 27-Jan-14 18:34:26

Certainly would not want to restrict any debate. I just said it would better to wait until the final proposal is put forward. It may well be that it not up to the RGS governors to have the final say, there may well be a different constitution very soon. Watch this space.

NikkiSurrey Mon 27-Jan-14 19:39:48

LadyMuck makes a good point. I've also been deluged by FB & twitter messages asking for support and donations for the fighting fund. However nobody so far seems clear ( or is willing to share) what exactly they are fighting for. I'm afraid I'd be mad to open my chequebook until it's clear what's on the table, and this sudden change of direction towards co-ed hasn't given me a huge amount of confidence, I have to say...

(Nor did meeting two Dunottar families in SWOTS today trying on RGS uniforms... when I popped in for some hockey socks)

LadyMuck Mon 27-Jan-14 20:08:19

I think it is good that Dunottar are looking to support their current exam years through to their exams, and I guess that will reduce transfers in those years. But presumably that leaves years 5-9 looking for spaces, which presumably is pretty key for years 8 & 9 if RGS is the local option but has a 3 year GCSE course.

batman11 Mon 27-Jan-14 20:13:12

3 year GCSE course?

LadyMuck Mon 27-Jan-14 20:19:16

I thought they now make their options in year 8 (over the next 6 weeks or so I guess) and then study their GCSE courses over years 9, 10 and 11. Fenton had introduced the system to Pates when he was there, and it is becoming more popular with schools keeping an eye on the league tables: certainly Wilsons and Wallington now do this, and I thought RGS was doing this too. But I imagine it might be difficult to join a school once the GCSE course have started.

batman11 Mon 27-Jan-14 20:29:06

Not impossible to join an examination group late, it can work but depends on the student, subject and amount of coursework or controlled assignment as it has been called for the last 4 years.

bookluva Mon 27-Jan-14 20:37:36

Chocolate wombat: 'It would change Dunottar a lot and the staff are teachers of girls.' Are you implying that the teachers at Dunottar wouldn't be able to teach boys? Teacher training courses train teachers to teach mixed sex classes! They then practise a lot before they gain their qualifications (it's called teaching practice). A lot of teachers have also worked in more than one school and so they bring a variety of experience to their roles. It's a hell of a misjudgement to assume that Dunottar staff wouldn't be able to handle boys!

LadyMuck Mon 27-Jan-14 21:03:46

Not impossible for the right child to join mid exam course, but equally one must assume that a large intake would be tricky? Well done to the existing trustees to try and keep Dunottars exam classes going until summer 2015. And obviously I guess it reduces the risk of disruption to existing RGS pupils if RGS is the obvious other local school.

The girls at Commonweal, Purley weren't as lucky when their school was sold to Cognita suddenly. I assume the demise of Commonweal has helped to increase Greenacres numbers.

Sheldonswhiteboard Mon 27-Jan-14 21:05:56

Did say I wouldn't comment further but have changed my mind! Seems there is a lot of that going on at the moment.
GCSE's will be studied from year 9 over a three year period starting from the next academic year.

Sheldonswhiteboard Mon 27-Jan-14 21:06:25

Meant to add this applies to RGS!

Sheldonswhiteboard Mon 27-Jan-14 21:08:27

Also some of the core subjects at RGS are IGSCE, I'm not sure exactly what difference that makes but may make it more difficult to come in part way through the course?

batman11 Mon 27-Jan-14 21:11:49

Agree with bookluva. I have taught boys, girls, and adults in private schools, state comps and at university. It's all about motivation and teaching in a calm, focused and interesting way. A competent teacher would have no trouble adapting to boys, in fact I would rather teach a " difficult" boy than a " difficult" girl!

Luckypup22 Mon 27-Jan-14 21:36:47

I have child in year 9 at RGS and they did start the 3 year GCSE course back in September. Most subjects they sit are iGCSE's which are exam based and not modular with little or no controlled assessments.

LadyMuck Mon 27-Jan-14 21:42:27

Is RGS giving any sort of priority to Dunottar girls, or will the year 8s have to sit 13+ competitively (if somewhat late I guess)?

ChocolateWombat Mon 27-Jan-14 21:53:04

Bookluva, I agree that teachers are trained to teach both sexes. Of course. I'm sure they could teach boys as well as girls. It's just a question of whether they want to...that was all I was saying. It is a different experience and most teachers have a preference for either mixed, girls or boys teaching, even if they have done all 3.
And I stick by what I said, which was that being a mixed school would change Dunottar. Everyone knows that. And it is clear from the posts on here since the co ed idea was mentioned, that not everyone is behind that idea. Some still hope it will survive single sex, some see co ed as the future. DunottarVoice didn't seem to have given reasons for the change in direction with the campaign. Perhaps all options are still being considered, but that wasn't the impression from what was said at the weekend.

All of this is an unsettling to the teachers as the pupils. I feel for them at this time of uncertainty and hope there are good outcomes for them. I should think they are consulting their unions!

Sheldonswhiteboard Mon 27-Jan-14 22:02:16

My understanding is that they are required to sit the entrance exam as there were a number of Dunottar girls at RGS last week for the day. I would assume that RGS wouldn't offer a place unless they thought the child could keep up with the pace as it wouldn't in the long run be of any benefit to the child if they are constantly struggling.

batman11 Mon 27-Jan-14 22:05:33

The unions can't do much and staff will be treated properly whatever hapens .

ChocolateWombat Mon 27-Jan-14 22:11:34

I think all the local schools will be sympathetic to Dunottar applicants. Everyone is sorry about their position. I think all schools would use entrance exams to ensure the girls are right for the schools. The schools need to firstly consider their existing pupils and only take new pupils if they have capacity and the new girls will be of a similar standard. Otherwise there would be disruption to existing g pupils and no Heads are going to want lots of that, although Im sure they would all be more accommodating than under normal circumstances. Posters on here have also suggested schools are offering places which pupils don't have to accept immediately in case Dunottar survives. Seems very decent. Hard for parents to then wait for the next few weeks.....there must be a real emotional struggle at that point about whether to go now or wait.

LadyMuck Mon 27-Jan-14 22:24:19

Presumably lots depends on which year group your child is in. Better for say year 8s to get in via 13+ wherever and have a good run up to GCSEs. Year 10 and above appear to be underwritten until 2015. Year 9 looks potentially to be the hardest hit. Waiting can't be fun, nor is doing competitive exams "against" your classmates, but still much better than to find out at the end of August say.

Marmitelover55 Mon 27-Jan-14 23:39:37

I wonder if the governors have considered converting to a state academy? Two schools in bristol have done this very successfully - Colston's Girls' School and Bristol Cathedral Choir School. They are now the two most over-subscribed schools in the city and results for their first comprehensive intakes at GCSE were very strong.

LIZS Tue 28-Jan-14 08:15:34

I wondered that Marmitelover but it all feels as if the 11th hour has passed - too little too late. It would be a shame for D to close but their market is very niche and suffered from a lack of clear direction for the future over a period of years. Even if D survives this crisis it would take a huge leap of faith to stick with it, while in fear that it will recur. I know feelings are high and campaigning is strong but how many parents and staff can honestly say they haven't already made a few calls as a contingency.

batman11 Tue 28-Jan-14 08:40:45

One can go on speculating which is human nature but why not wait until 13 March when all will become clear. None of these postings are helping the girls. Before anyone says it I do not want to limit discussion but there must be better ways of spending ones time. No More posts from me until after D day!

LadyMuck Tue 28-Jan-14 08:56:43

Mainly because other local schools are asking for deposits by between 3-11 March, so one has to make a guess as to which way the wind is blowing before then. And clearly even whether the land ends up as part of RGS potentially impacts perceptions of that school. It is a question that will be asked once offer letters come out next month.

Anyway I assumed that the sheer volume of tweeting and press releases from the PAG were intended to bring this to the public attention. If they want to work quietly to come up with a plan then great, but so far I've had over 1,000 tweets from them this week!

bookluva Wed 29-Jan-14 16:50:13

I've decided that I'm not going to post on this thread again. I wish the parents action group (sorry, Dunottar Voice) the best of luck and I hope that the RGS dominated board of governors listens to their proposal with an open mind. I won't say they might already have made up their mind and decided that the scandal and news stories are a short-term price to pay for the long-term benefits of gaining land and facilities worth over £4 million. I am sure that they are better people than that and I hope that this situation is resolved to everybodys satisfaction.

tom2468tom Wed 29-Jan-14 23:54:16

So, the Governors were right then - there is no future for Dunottar Girls' School? That is a real shame. I think we should ask the Voice not to give up on single sex. At least the Governors took a year not a weekend to decide to abandon the school's heritage!

There will be lots of people saying they support for a new co-ed school on the Dunottar site. In Kent - there is a name for co-ed schools that are non selective - they were called 'secondary moderns'. These were rarely popular and non retain the ethos of a small girls' school.

We should all tell the Governors to back a single sex school.

LadyMuck Thu 30-Jan-14 08:42:48

It certainly seems to be the less selective girls schools which are most at risk. Even relatively locally, Croham Hurst essentially closed when it was merged into Old Palace (who of course have benefitted hugely from their grounds). Commonweal held out until they pretty much went bust, and in that instance I'm not even sure whether or when the staff got their redundancy pay. But I agree with LIZS, that it is probably too late in the day to try to save the school by going co-ed.

It must be hugely galling for Dunottar parents to see their land and buildings effectively be bequeathed to RGS, but the rather archaic charity law precedents don't actually give the trustees that many options once they determine that the school itself is no longer a going concern. Depending on the covenants and possible planning permission for the land they could sell it or grant a long lease and become a grant giving educational charity, which could at least keep the Dunottar name going, but if the land is not easy to sell due to restrictions on its use, then the gift or transfer to RGS would make most sense for the charity trustees to be able to show that they have executed their fiduciary duties. I'm assuming that if the trustees are aiming for all girls to be able to complete their exam courses, then there must be some degree of cooperation with RGS in order to deliver this, as presumably most staff would stat looking for new jobs asap rather than wait out for redundancy? Unless they are being offered substantially more than statutory redundancy of course.

ChocolateWombat Thu 30-Jan-14 16:56:17

I have always wondered what would have happened to the land etc if Dunottar had closed last year and not gone to RGS. Who would have owned the land and a charity, could it be sold and who would get the proceeds if the school no longer existed?

LIZS Thu 30-Jan-14 17:07:30

Sometimes the trusts are written so that it would revert to whoever previously owned(or next of kin) it if it ceased to be used for educational purposes. There seems to be a lot of hope placed upon the legalities of the charity status. The USP of Dunottar is the single sex education , if that is lost I'm not sure whether there really is sufficient demand for non selective co-ed to sustain it long term, probably still within the RGS group. The kids I know of who might be interested head to Box Hill, Ardingly and Worth and often board. I don't think they'd view a co-ed D as in the same league.

Bellie Thu 30-Jan-14 20:17:06

I don't know Liz. There is certainly a lot of positive talk in Reigate today since it was in the surrey mirror about potentially going co-ed.

Within Reigate if you have a boy that does make the grade with RGS, Box Hill is the only option locally. Parents are definitely making noises about welcoming Dunottar as co-ed although the proof is always in the pudding as they say. Personally Box Hill has has too many 'issues' to make it an option so this move by Dunottar voice may be a good thing. Also re-inforced by the mirror article about RAA and academy status to my mind.

Education in Reigate has been dominated in recent years by one school and as a parent that would like options, I find the latest movements encouraging. Change can be good!

Bellie Thu 30-Jan-14 20:18:29

Oops (clearly I didn't receive the education worthy of a education thread!).

If you have a boy who does not make the grade for RGS

Bellie Thu 30-Jan-14 20:19:07

Sigh. I will stop now

an education thread.

ChocolateWombat Thu 30-Jan-14 21:17:58

I wonder how the DunottarVoice can establish if a co ed Dunottar can survive. How can they know how many girls will stay under that circumstance or even more tricky to know, how many boys will come. It is late in the admissions process, so are they expecting boys with places elsewhere to give them up for the new Dunottar. Seems unlikely many would do that. I mean, why would you, when it has been under threat of closure and is totally untested as a mixed school.
As someone else said, the USP of Dunottar was being a girls school. It had a bit of a niche. The abandonment of fighting for it to stay single sex seems to confirm what the Governors said about it not being viable in that format. That is certainly sad for girls and staff. The new, alternative idea sounds like clutching at straws to me. That kind of school isn't what existing parents chose and not all of them seem to want co ed. their uncertainty about co ed must be compounded by the fact that a new co ed Dunottar is totally untested and would be a very different school to the girls only Dunottar. It would essentially be a brand new school. I truly wonder how many are so loyal to Dunottar that they will be able to overcome these issues and resist the temptation to look elsewhere or accept an offer from an established,proven school which has no question mark over its future (and of course that doesn't have to be RGS). The Governors will have thought through all these kind of issues which mean there is really no certainty of how many girls would stay.....and this sadly makes it too uncertain to be viable. The only option I could see for it to remain as a school in its own right, is to close and everyone leave and later perhaps relaunch from scratch. I don't really think that will happen either.
Anyway, what do I know? Just my thoughts from looking at the situation and appraising the consequences of a school having long term falling numbers and then uncertainty about if it can stay open and also the prospect of a total change in its nature.

Luckypup22 Thu 30-Jan-14 22:35:51

Chocolatewombat- I agree with what you have said, makes a lot of sense. I can't see how they can change the school to co-ed quick enough to tune it around, it all feels very desperate and last minute.

Luckypup22 Thu 30-Jan-14 22:46:45

Bellie- curious to know what 'issues' do Boxhill have, I know that some D girls have now been offered places there, I wonder if they are aware...

ChocolateWombat Thu 30-Jan-14 22:52:59

The parents wanted to save their Dunottar. I totally get that. They loved the special girls school it was. The school with boys though, would be a very different school. I wonder how many parents really want to fight and commit their daughters to going to a totally different school. It would be an unknown in so many ways. Suddenly you are talking not about fighting to save the thing you love, but something different. I don't think the same level of support can be there under those circumstances. Dunottar with just girls was unlikely to survive (and the abandonment of that idea confirms that) but I think the idea of a co ed Dunottar is even more unworkable for the reasons here and in my previous post.
I would have liked a girls school to survive as I think there was a bit of a niche there (although not one enough people wanted to fit into) I should think the work of DunottarVoice is both a comfort to people and also a source of further confusion, because things are changing and ideas might further change. Hard to commit to something when you're not entirely sure what it will be.

Bellie Thu 30-Jan-14 23:06:12

Luckypup - it's difficult to go into but the head left suddenly at the beginning of this term. There is history which may or may not be proven to repeat itself.

bookluva Fri 31-Jan-14 07:42:17

Chocolate wombat: (USP of Dunottar is value added. I really, really won't post again!)

LIZS Fri 31-Jan-14 08:02:20

I wonder how many of those overheard in Reigate yesterday would be prepared to hedge 12k + pa on such a project though, perhaps even risking their dc secondary education in the process? The ethos would be different - it won't be the same D the supporters know and love - as would the economic pressures to get it right. How many pupils are required to make such a project viable ? With RGS et al offering large scholarships/bursaries and similar for boarding at RAAS (although that may yet change) can D make itself financially attractive enough to get the numbers on roll in time ?

lostinsurrey Fri 31-Jan-14 11:01:03

Open letter from Dunottar Voice. Well done for being open about what is going on.


ChocolateWombat Fri 31-Jan-14 12:19:56

I still don't get what's going on from that letter. Last week Dunotatrvoice were saying co ed was the plan. Now no mention of that. Is that idea scrapped too. No mention of if it is girls only. What are they proposing should be continued. How can anyone decide if to support IT if they don't know what IT is?
Sounds like an anti RGS rant to me. Isn't the key issue if Dunottar has a viable financial future and in what form? A few numbers of how many are still there now would be useful. There are lots of posts mentioning girls visiting other schools, but do we know how many are still there?

Sheldonswhiteboard Fri 31-Jan-14 12:54:34

I agree with chocolate, I'm not clear what the plan is.
There seems to be some contradictory information flying around. The letter states numbers have dropped to 206 but the Trustees were reported in the press as saying it was 186 - are they not comparing the same measure? It can't be that difficult to establish how many puplis were at the school at the time the consultation was announced!

What financial support did Dunottar want? My understanding is that the schools share coaches so presumably that must save money (albeit not huge amounts). I thought someone upthread said a loan was offered but turned down so how is that not offering financial support?

What I get from that letter is that the Dunottar trustees looked pretty naive when they agreed to the changes to the articles...

With regards to Dunottar's USP - value add is good measure, I don't understand why the school never made more of a play of it. When we were shown around, the headmistress said the USP was that it was a girls school, I can't remember any mention of value add. Compared to other schools Dunottar's promotion of itself via its website has been poor for a long time, minimal information about exam results (apart from headline rates) and sparse information about leavers university destinations. It could have made so much more of itself.
Hopefully the parents group can re-invigorate the efforts being made but as I said I'm not sure what the plan is.

Luckypup22 Fri 31-Jan-14 13:09:59

I agree again with choc wombat, it feels very much like the voice are anti RGS which probably is not the way to go. Also where has the co ed idea gone.
The open letter refers to pupil numbers saying there were 220 girls in July 2013 but I have just heard that current numbers are only 186, so obviously girls have left the school this school year already and the radio interview I just heard also stated that they really need 200 girls for the school to be viable. The numbers just don't work and I would think it will be difficult to attract new pupils with confidence. I certainly wouldn't want to take that gamble.

NikkiSurrey Fri 31-Jan-14 16:04:33

The 2011 ISI report says there were 220 in the senior school then, and the school has supposedly been working hard to increase pupil numbers since then according to its Charities Commission entries.

Interesting snapshot of the financial history here: http://apps.charitycommission.gov.uk/Showcharity/RegisterOfCharities/FinancialHistory.aspx?RegisteredCharityNumber=312068&SubsidiaryNumber=0

It's been spending more than it has had in income since 2010! Presumably has been running down cash reserves?

NikkiSurrey Fri 31-Jan-14 16:05:35
NikkiSurrey Fri 31-Jan-14 17:01:02

Hmm ... apparently the DunottarVoice site isn't publishing any negative comments, or those supporting RGS, so looks like you're right, Luckypup!

elsma Fri 31-Jan-14 18:23:23

So, gosh, there's a lot going on, isn't there.

Is the USP all-girls? Hmmm. It was an aspect. Mattered to me. Now if I've the choice of co-ed Dunottar or the schools we'd already chosen against. Well, I pick Dunottar... my other options are all co-ed anyway! BTW, on the DV.com blog it says some stuff in the comments about there being a number of options being considered and co-ed may be 6th form only -- that sounds like a good idea, whatever they do with the rest of the school, really.

I think added value is really compelling and can't believe I've ever heard of it before!! So, my take away? As we all knew the marketing has been pants for ages and in the last, say four months, has totally turned around.

Sadly it was only given four months before they declared it was not working. Pretty brutal.

I reckon that the DV gang are working their bits off and - as a group that didn't exist two weeks ago - are doing an awesome job. So, the comms isn't fluid and sometimes wires are crossed. Maybe they took on a really hard job and are doing their best? I don't see dissing of RGS... I see them being really bewildered by governors old and new and their decision-making.

alberteinstein Fri 31-Jan-14 19:19:49

I am a local resident and have just got wind of this story. I've read the stuff on DunottarVoice.com and can see nothing deliberately negative about RGS, they are just facts?

Bert123 Fri 31-Jan-14 19:51:05

Are there any Dunottar staff or parents on here to say how many girls there actually are in the secondary school bit right now, not last year but now?

I think that there are currently students leaving every week. I think there are currently about 15 in year 7, similar in year 8. I think there are only 25 in year 9 and then about 30 and 40 in year 10 and 11. Is that right? More parents are planning to leave in September, even if the school continues. Lets say that they recruit 15 into year 7again - which would be an optimistic target!
So, Dunotar will have fewer than under 100 in years 7 - 11 and that means certain closure - surely!

tackyjackie Fri 31-Jan-14 20:28:40

Are you not forgetting L6 and U6?

ChocolateWombat Fri 31-Jan-14 20:49:06

I don't think DunottarVoice are giving those figures. For one thing they probably don't know as the situation is changing every day. People are looking at other schools but it is unclear if they will definitely leave. But some of them will. And of course, it doesn't suit their argument to say what the current numbers are. The numbers they give between 2010 and 2013 are carefully selected to shown a least bad scenario.
Clearly they want to save the school. This does not involve giving balanced information and all the facts, just those that support their campaign. I think that is why so many of us are confused about exactly what is going on. The 'official' source of information is effectively a propaganda machine to save the school. This is exactly what you would expect. They are doing their job. That's fine, as long as we realise we will probably never get all the information from them. In fact we probably never will. If the school closes, there will be scapegoats, regardless of whether they really are to blame.

Sheldonswhiteboard Fri 31-Jan-14 20:53:25

According to the exam stats in the Surrey Mirror, I think it was last week, there were 8 candidates for a levels in 2013, so it doesn't sound like the 6th form is huge. I know a couple of girls at least who moved to Reigate College for 6th form after they changed their admissions policy to not discriminate against independent school candidates.

Sheldonswhiteboard Fri 31-Jan-14 20:58:09

I think the exam stats that were published in the Surrey Mirror on local schools for a levels in 2013 indicated 8 a level candidates so it doesn't look like the sixth form is huge.
I think they are being selective with the their figures but would expect that but I would imagine at some point those who appear to being blamed for this will publish their own version, it would appear that the trustees are already contradicting the figures being given.
At the end of the day this situation was sown by the inaction of the school over the years, it's just a huge shame that the pupils and staff are going to suffer if it does close.

Sheldonswhiteboard Fri 31-Jan-14 20:59:01

argh, didn't think first post has stuck, hence another one!

LIZS Fri 31-Jan-14 21:01:42

Even when I looked round 3-4 years ago the 6th form was small. A level maths class had 4, attractive to some but too small to me.

tackyjackie Fri 31-Jan-14 21:25:36

How do you know the trustees are questioning the figures?

alberteinstein Fri 31-Jan-14 21:29:57

Dunottar is a much-loved school in Reigate. What's with the smirkfest over its potential closure? I don't get it, sorry. If it closes that will be a sad day for the whole area.

ChocolateWombat Fri 31-Jan-14 21:36:32

I totally agree it will be sad. I don't think anyone is gloating or pleased. The thing is, we don't know what's going on. There is an organisation saying they are there to keep everyone informed, but we don't Understand and would like to. First they were saving a girls school. Then the USP turned into value added, not it being a girls school. Then they were saving it to be co ed. Seems like there's no mention of that now. They tell us numbers until July but not for now. We don't really understand what kind of education they are saving Dunottar for and can't tell if it is viable or not. I really don't think anyone is happy it is happening. This is a public forum and it would be good if DunottarVoice came on here to tell us the facts. If things were explained carefully and fully it would stop speculation. The fact this isn't happening increases the sense that all is not well.

alberteinstein Fri 31-Jan-14 21:38:16

A friend's daughter went there many years ago and the 6th form was small then, from what I recall. But a quick Google found this interesting snippet:


Sheldonswhiteboard Fri 31-Jan-14 21:39:53

There was a quote in I think, the Surrey Mirror or one of the other local papers that stated the Trustees said the figures were at 186, which is different to what's been stated elsewhere. I don't know whether they are comparing like for like though. Given that the success of the school will depend on how many pupils it has/can get I don't see how it can be difficult to state exactly what the figures are to see how close they are to being a viable concern. It's especially important to parents who have to make a decision over the next few weeks as to whether to accept an alternative school place or hope that Dunottar survives.

I don't see a "smirk fest" there's a lot of sympathy locally for the situation that pupils, parents and staff face, but it's not clear what the strategy is.

alberteinstein Fri 31-Jan-14 21:43:21

Choccywoo, I think you're accusing them of all sorts of stuff when all they seem to be doing is getting the information out there? The co-ed thing : just because they don't say on their latest they're thinking of coed, does that meant they're not thinking coed?

alberteinstein Fri 31-Jan-14 21:44:52

Hey, it doesn't say they're not turning it into a chocolate factory either. The wife will be thrilled!

Sheldonswhiteboard Fri 31-Jan-14 21:49:57

That's the point though, I don't think it is that clear. If you have sons in this area and are looking at a less hot house environment can they consider Dunottar or not, or maybe but only for 6th form. I appreciate that they haven't had much time but they need to be clear on what the vision for Dunottar is otherwise how can they work out what will work number wise?

alberteinstein Fri 31-Jan-14 21:52:56

I'm sure that will all come clear. From the website it is obvious that it is a very busy group that is working towards a viable solution. Who can blame them for batting ideas about? It's only been going a couple of weeks or so. Or is that propaganda too and have they been working in a secret bunker since 2008? I think we should be told.

alberteinstein Fri 31-Jan-14 21:53:47

Reigate School Has Secret Agenda Not To Become Not A Chocolate Factory.

Please don't tell the wife.

Sheldonswhiteboard Fri 31-Jan-14 21:55:44

If they could arrange a chocolate factory alongside the school that would be fab!

Luckypup22 Fri 31-Jan-14 21:57:02

I listened to Susy radio today and john a spokesman from DV stated that the number was 186 but really needs to be 200 for the school to work without loss, or better still up to 250 which is what they hope for in the future.
Def not a smirk fest at all, just A genuine concern for the school and pupils and the future. Choc wombat hit the nail on the head with the comment about them only giving selective information but that is only coming off as confusing.
I suppose the best thing to do is wait and see what happens but it is difficult to be patient when the future education of your child is at stake.

alberteinstein Fri 31-Jan-14 22:02:17

But seriously, how do you know it is selective information? Do you have other information? I just see a group of people trying to reach a solution in a short space of time. More power to them, I say.

Sheldonswhiteboard Fri 31-Jan-14 22:16:33

Because the press release from Dunottar voice originally said the pupil number was 203, sorry I originally said it was 206, the trustees said it was 186 and now it appears that the spokesperson for Dunottar voice says on the radio that it is 186. That's quite important if the break even point is 200.

tackyjackie Fri 31-Jan-14 22:32:45

Alberteinstein Is right there is a smirk factor on this forum. When there was some unfortunate publicity about 10 years ago involving some RGS boys there was not nastyness from competing schools.
Dunottar is a fine school that has lost it's way a little, turned to a friend and then got mugged! Fortunately it has many clever and influential friends that will enable the school to stand on it's own 2 feet and thrive again. It will happen.

Sheldonswhiteboard Fri 31-Jan-14 22:46:03

Sorry but I don't see nastiness. It seems that if people query the direction or the information being put out it's nasty? Local people are contributing to this forum, individuals who have an interest in local education and want to know what options may or may not be available for their children in the future regardless of where they currently attend school. If they don't happen to concur with Dunottar voice that's not nasty, it's debate.

alberteinstein Fri 31-Jan-14 22:58:46

There's debate and there's sniping, 'tis a fine line. Some of the comments here seem to have strayed across that line, which is a shame.

tackyjackie Fri 31-Jan-14 23:04:21

This forum comprises teachers, parents, past students, possibly past and current trustees, some existing parents and potential parents from both schools as well as people that are interested in what has happened. The eventual outcome will not please everybody so the comments in some cases are less than kind. Any body can put a direct question to the Voice of Dunottar and they will get an answer, try it.

Bert123 Fri 31-Jan-14 23:24:35

I thought it was only on the Dvoice website that all opinions had to be approved?
I have no smirk. I genuinely believe that Dunottar has provided an excellent education for girls and that it is a real shame that it got into this position.

But, with no smirk, I do not believe the claim that the school has a viable future. I hope this is an open enough forum that someone with different opinion to others can state it without sufering personal insult?

Dunottar Voice says it needs 200 (or preferably 250?) and confirmed on the radio, apparently, that there are only 186 today - there are more leaving each week. The only year groups where there are nearly enough girls to break even are those that are about to leave after exams. The future looks worse as the smallest year groups are in the 1st to 3rd form and many of those are seeking places at other schools. How can a 6th form with 8 (or even 18 or 28) in a year group provide the choice of exams, extra curricular or even just social experience anyone would want?

It looks like there wil be be a lot less than 150 students, by Sep 2014. Even if recruiting at 40 - 45 in a year group from Sep 2015 onwards, the small numbers in year 7, 8 and 9 now means it will take four or five years to get up to a break even number of 200 and it is very, very optimistic to anticipate recruitment nearly tripling by this time next year. No one will fund a school losing money year after year. Wouldn't new students need at least a guarantee that the school will not close for 5 years?

I bet lots of the teachers are applying for numerous jobs and I do not blame them for one moment. Some teachers have probably already got new jobs and resigned and, if so, parents are being kept in the dark. It would not help the Voice campaign to let news of resignations slip out. If teachers geta new job and resign over the coming weeks then it will be very hard to get quality teachers to join a school with such uncertainty hanging over it.

Are these perceptions even close to the truth?

It would be great if Dunottar Voice could correct my statements and say that there are more than 200 girls, that it is not true that the Headmistress is writing lots of references for children and for teachers seeking places elsewhere, it would be good if they could say that the school will break even this year.

These types of questions need to be answered rather than daily announcements about how great things are but not adressing the important doubts people have. If not then all the talk about 'new models' just seems like a smoke screen to hide the truth from the girls and their parents and to prevent them from leaving.

I feel that I am supposed to think that the Governors are crooks and that the Dunottar Voice Committee is beyond reproach but, whilst well meaning, maybe neither are able to save Dunottar?

None of this is a smirk but parents and girls need to know and I think it is wrong to hide this info from anxious families.

Sheldonswhiteboard Fri 31-Jan-14 23:43:13

There is some debate with alternative views being expressed on Dunottar voice following the issue of their open letter so I don't think it's that censored but it's a free world (sort of) so I think people will continue to debate wherever they want.

tackyjackie Sat 01-Feb-14 00:11:49

Ok, in order to stop the unfounded speculation that all RGS wanted for "supporting" Dunottar was it's grade 2 listed building, 17 acres of prime land and lots of students they should just assign the school back to Dunottar. This would then lift the damaging cloud of suspicion that is not good for the school. I am sure Dunottar could return all that it received from RGS instantly.

Sheldonswhiteboard Sat 01-Feb-14 00:19:38

Where would that leave Dunottar though? I thought the link up with RGS was a last ditch attempt to keep Dunottar open? What has changed, does Dunottar have sufficient resources to keep going, if it does then I don't understand why it went to RGS in the first place.

tackyjackie Sat 01-Feb-14 00:29:00

Bert 123

Where are you getting your information from? Are you sure the head is writing staff references? You seem so well informed.

Sheldonswhiteboard Sat 01-Feb-14 00:37:19

I've just re-read the open letter on Dunottar voice, the RGS trustees gave a letter of comfort to the auditors of the Dunottar accounts. So effectively Dunottar purchased a guarantee from the RGS trustees that they would underwrite any shortfall in the next year. Instead of paying directly for this guarantee it appears that the property of the Dunottar trust was signed over instead. So RGS does appear to have given financial support in the form of underwriting the potential loss, like an insurance contract. Whether the risk of a shortfall was worth paying the "premium" that it did is debatable, with hindsight it doesn't look a good deal but what if there had been a substantial shortfall, that would have had to have come from somewhere.

tackyjackie Sat 01-Feb-14 00:39:43

Some of the board panicked,the chair I think was new to the job and they expected a decent run of support. If the decent thing was done and the school handed back it would be in control of it's own dynasty. I believe with hindsight none of the trustees would have been so gullible.

tackyjackie Sat 01-Feb-14 00:43:09

Sorry destiny

Sheldonswhiteboard Sat 01-Feb-14 00:53:33

Oh ok, I'm still not convinced how they move forward. Maybe they could raise funds against the property to provide the guarantee but I would have thought they would have thought of that in the first instance.

tackyjackie Sat 01-Feb-14 03:24:45

Absolutely whiteboard, and perhaps by selling some of it. If they can raise £1.500.000 this could support the school whilst it develops.

LadyMuck Sat 01-Feb-14 08:28:11

Surely Dunottar are still going to need RGS support to keep going through to 2015 though? Realistically any teacher who isn't on the verge of retirement would prefer to get a job elsewhere that wait out until the school shuts, so the only way that the current GCSE and A level classes can get through is via the RGS support?

Dunottar Voice seem to have admirable spirit, but have activated themselves at least a year too late. The reality is that they have little real power given that they are not the trustee body, and it isn't clear to me as an outsider as to where the head and bursar stand.

What would be interesting to know is whether at any time the school has been offered to one of the profit making school groups eg Cognita, Alpha Group etc, as they would be able to look at what alternatives there were quite quickly.

Bert123 Sat 01-Feb-14 08:30:35

Tackyjackie- I think my observations are common sense and, yes, based on what I see happening.
It is well known that girls are leaving every week or two;, years 7,8&9 are way too small;, teachers are applying for jobs because they are at risk of redundancy - they have mortgages to pay and would be crcrazy not to. When girls or teachers apply elsewhere then they always need a reference.
The numbers of girls left has now dropped way below 200. That is obvious to us all.
I would be pleased to hear that any of that is incorrect??

It is so much better for everyone if key facts about the current situation at Dunittar were confirmed and if i am wrong I will gladly apologise.

I only seek clarity but me asking for that will mean some will say I am smirking or pleased. Not true at all and I stand to lose out if the school does close.

NikkiSurrey Sat 01-Feb-14 08:48:56

I do hope the DV group have one or two people in their team who are able to step back and view the facts quite objectively.
The problem with a campaign like this is that all the activity becomes exciting and people get so passionate about the 'fight' that they sometimes lose sight of the original aim.
The last week or so has just been a whirlwind of 'save dunottar' messages, press releases and fund-raising activity.
I imagine that a lot of people started out believing that they were fighting to save 'their Dunottar' - a small, almost cosy, very nurturing all-girls environment, but once it becomes clear that the Dunottar of old simply can't continue they will drop away. Alternatively, they'll keep fighting, but then find that the 'prize' at the end isn't something that they actually ever wanted?
There now seems to be discussion on the DV site about co-ed in 6th form only? Or just for some subjects? It does all sound rather messy and a bit half-hearted - almost saying, yes boys, we want you here for your fees, but we don't want to have to interact with you!
Parents of boys are often looking for strong extracurricular sports in independent schools, and that would be a huge new area for Dunottar to have to develop - cricket, rugby, football?

tackyjackie Sat 01-Feb-14 08:52:26

Bert 123. That all makes sense to me and thanks for the information. What will be gained by employing a top barrister to investigate what has taken place?

ChocolateWombat Sat 01-Feb-14 09:19:59

The only real issue of any significance within any of this, is if Dunottarnis financially viable. It is the bottom line and the answer to that will decide its future. It doesn't matter if it was viable back in 2010 or whenever, but going forward now and into the medium term at least. The answer is determined by numbers. Not the numbers in July 2013 but the no.s now and info the future. If they are falling as many see evidence of, the cause becomes irrelevant. N the no.s simply mean it cannot continue.
Much of the other debate is interesting, but not relevant really. We already know Dunottar went to RGS. If they hadn't they would have had to close last summer. I really think the Head and others knew that the merger would not save them long term. They did it to buy time for girls and staff.....and they were prepared to effectively give the land long term to RGS in order to do this. This wasn't necessarily wrong and it would have been difficult to be entirely open about all of this, because whilst Dunottar leaders probably expected medium term closure, there was a chance it could have been saved. So RGS provided the guarantee to the auditors which kept them open. And long term they may well stand to be the beneficiaries, but they didn't drive Dunottar into decline in the first place or ask them to merge. Dunottar asked RGS. If Dunottar had closed in 2013 the land would have not benefitted them anyway, as a charity. Did it really matter to them who got it after closure?
Understandably people don't want Dunottar to close. However many seem to be distracted from the real issue of falling long term numbers and stalling numbers now, to looking for outside blame. Yes, RGS do look like they will gain into the long term, nut they have not caused the problem. Focusing on them will not solve the problem of numbers. It just muddies the water for people who struggle to dee the real issue and creates bitterness.
Turning around the numbers issue to the level it would require, in the timescale it would need to happen seems unlikely if not impossible to me. I really don't know where these extra girls or boys needed are going to come from at this stage of events. This is what the Governors will have to consider as the key basis of their final decision.

tackyjackie Sat 01-Feb-14 09:34:54

So why is a barrister soon to be appointed? She won't be able to create extra pupils.

ChocolateWombat Sat 01-Feb-14 09:39:05

I can see that parents and staff at a school that is faced with possible closure don't like of an alternative school benefitting. Getting fixated with this though, isn't productive. Blaming the other school won't change things. Even if a barrister was employed and could show RGS had acted wrongly (and I really can't see that happening. By the sounds of it, they didn't commit to actually do very much at all) it wouldn't alter the numbers issue. The end result of closure would be the same.

tackyjackie Sat 01-Feb-14 10:53:38

When I first got to know that there was no longer RGS support for Dunottar and that a PAG had been formed, my thoughts were exactly the same as yours CW. The trustees havehave now committed to accepting a viable business plan if one were put forward.

What could be in place soon is a 5 year fully costed and financially underwritten plan that accounts for a worst case scenario of having low residual numbers initially. The school would then expand given the strong demand for places. The Junior school would be relaunched.

Please don't write Dunottor off!

ChocolateWombat Sat 01-Feb-14 11:00:26

Oh that is interesting....and just the kind of thing we would like to know on here. Thank you.
I will be interested to see those current numbers and projections and importantly what they are based on.
I look forward to them being shared with us all, because they are so important.

tackyjackie Sat 01-Feb-14 11:19:28

Let's all hope that the PAG is successful in all of this and what has happened will be a lesson to all (no pun intended). We all must keep positive and hope for the very best for the girls.

LadyMuck Sat 01-Feb-14 11:48:01

How many of the staff are involved in drawing up the plan?

tackyjackie Sat 01-Feb-14 12:17:30

No idea how many teachers but expect a good number of accountants and marketing people.

LadyMuck Sat 01-Feb-14 12:27:49

That would worry me! Especially if the twitter campaign has been masterminded by "marketing people".

I do wish Dunottar parents the best of luck in their efforts to secure their dds education.

Sheldonswhiteboard Sat 01-Feb-14 12:35:17

I'm a bit confused. I can understand the logic of putting together a business plan which hopefully gets agreement from the Trustees but why are they fund raising for a barrister, is this in case the business plan doesn't gain acceptance and they feel they need to take legal action? I think they need to be very clear as to what they are doing if they are asking people for money.

tackyjackie Sat 01-Feb-14 12:40:15

Lady M, I don't actually know the make up. If it were up to me there would be about 40%parents 40% teachers 10% legal 10% marketing, but it's not up to me.

LJElphick Sat 01-Feb-14 16:17:53

tackyj - a business plan would be basedrequires strong demand in the future.

Such huge support but low numbers.

How would a business plan demonstrate secure demand for 5 years time when even such strong support that the school currently enjoys from the community(demonstrated by the PAG) has resulted in such low numbers? It would be pointless getting surveys etc as these will show lots of support but ensure no commitment.

If the next four or five years will result in a loss and there is a reasonable chance of it continuing to lose money in the future then I wouldn't trust my children to Dunottar as it is unlikely to make it to that point as no Trustees could agree to all the assets going to the wall.

tackyjackie Sat 01-Feb-14 17:54:08

LJE. This is such a valid point and impossible for me to answer properly on a public forum. Most of the overwhelming positive postings come from girls that have been there some years or have left. One has to have confidence and trust in the head and leadership team and the enthusiasm and ability of the teachers that present their subjects at open days. You will have a gut feeling if the school feels right for your child. staff come and go at all schools but it is possible to preserve the same ethos and feel of the school.
When the plan is presented I think most people will able to judge if it is sound.

ChocolateWombat Sat 01-Feb-14 18:23:17

To be viable, the school will have to show current numbers are sufficient, because as you say, just levels of support from the community do not equate to people signing their kids up and paying the fees, which is what is needed.
I look forward to those current numbers and the plan you mention being released because they will be very telling. No one really seems to be mentioning current numbers or exactly how many have left recently. I suspect that is because those numbers do not show Dunottar as a viable long term proposition, which of course does not support what DV wants to express.
So DV can continue to tell us of the love people have for the school and post messages of support. But we look forward to hearing the more concrete and relevant figures of numbers in the school. I wonder how long we will wait for those?!

I don't say these things because I want Dunottar to close. Far from it. But people need to realise that the fact they love the school is not enough to keep it open. Only numbers are.

tackyjackie Sat 01-Feb-14 18:43:51

Do you think that the PAG would put forward a business plan that did not address your very valid points together with the solution to other complex and technical issues.

tackyjackie Sat 01-Feb-14 19:26:14

A plan B solution could be that some of the site could be developed, thus
providing substantial funding for Dunottar school. This has been done elsewhere.

ChocolateWombat Sat 01-Feb-14 19:51:08

Yes it could. That means the assets are being run down, suggesting the numbers alone are not enough for it to continue. The long term result of that is still closure, but a long lingering one.
Numbers are the bottom line. Plans to allow the school to continue without sufficient numbers can only delay closure.
Perhaps they will revel that the numbers are healthy and people have not left. That is what you need to hope for, being the best route to survival.

tackyjackie Sat 01-Feb-14 20:07:02

The numbers will not be great but the money gained could fund the school for many years until the numbers increase so it can fund itself. Very little would have to be sold in reality, non of the teaching buildings at all.

ChocolateWombat Sat 01-Feb-14 20:13:13

A school which needs to subsidise itself for many years as you describe, until numbers rise (which may not happen anyway)is not viable.
I cannot believe the DV would propose such a thing. And there is surely no chance of the Governors accepting such an idea.

tackyjackie Sat 01-Feb-14 20:30:53

This is just my speculation as I hope plan A when it is presented will be supported. How do you know what the trustees will or no accept? I don't. There are many endowed schools that do not just rely on fee income.

LJElphick Sun 02-Feb-14 01:40:45

That is really interesting TacJac.
What schools have you heard of that sell land to keep going? If some have done that before and survived after the sale proceeds have been spent then they will be really good supporting examples for the PAG.
Which schools are you referring to?

tackyjackie Sun 02-Feb-14 08:20:27

I think that there were two in the last 10 years but need to check details, I will
try and get back to you . Not so long ago Parsons Mead school in Ashstead were struggling, got "supported" ie got taken over by a dominant school , Parsons Mead was closed , the land sold for housing and the dominant school got the money. This outrageous example is well known to the friends of Dunottar, they do not want to see this repeated.

ChocolateWombat Sun 02-Feb-14 08:48:12

I can see that Dunottar parents don't like the idea of another school benefitting from their closure. That is a natural response. Some people's whole focus though seems to have gone into looking to blame someone.
Regardless of whether anyone else is to blame (and I've said up thread that the causes are much more long term than the involvement of any other schools) preventing or allowing the land to transfer to RGS will not determine whether the numbers are big enough for survival. The numbers need to be large enough.
Those who are keen to break the merger with RGS, even if that happens, the numbers will still be the key issue.

Do you think parents would rather sell off land so that Dunottar can keep going for say 3 or 5 years and then close, or accept closure is inevitable and close this year? I guess some would say struggle on and sell the land (to stop RGS getting it....seems to be a big focus, rather than saving the school for a few) whilst others would say you have to know when enough is enough. There is a time to quit. And quitting at the right time is the brave and sensible thing to do isn't it. Continuing with a battle which cannot be won isn't good for the girls concerned. It may not be time to quit yet, but I'd be interested to know when people think that actually is. What kind of numbers mean the towel has to be thrown in?

LJElphick Sun 02-Feb-14 09:34:22

Tackie, please do let me know if you remember the schools who run at a loss and subsidise it by selling assets. Up the thread you said there were many.
I ask because it surprised me that there were many who sold land to keep going and ran at a loss for many years.
there may be some with big invested endowments like Whitgift but that is, of course, totally different as Dunnottar doesn't seem to have an endowment oter than the buildings and land which are not the original ones for the school but where the school moved in the 40's (I think).

It seems to be an odd route forward.

Dv suggest that they are astonished that Dunnottar was seen as not viable by the governors. They are in danger of looking like deliberate spin doctors if over three weeks they admit that it may need to sell land to stay afloat.

It really does need the plan A showing that they can keep and build from the current 203 they say are at the school now.

tackyjackie Sun 02-Feb-14 09:35:12

Defeatist or not!

We keep going around in circles on this one and I am not interested in perpetuating this as you seem to be untroubled if RGS took the site, well it now looks almost certain it will not happen.
I have seen schools transformed very quickly and numbers increase dramatically after strong and innovative leadership has been put in place. You are right in that numbers are key.
Dunottar has so much going for it and once re- launched will astound its critics. We now know that there is a huge demand from potential parents to send theirs girls to the school IF they have the confidence in the school. I can assure you they will get that in "spades".
Do not be defeatist, remember David and Goliath and enjoy!
This is my last word on the topic but probably not yours.


LIZS Sun 02-Feb-14 10:45:58

"please do let me know if you remember the schools who run at a loss and subsidise it by selling assets. Up the thread you said there were many.
I ask because it surprised me that there were many who sold land to keep going and ran at a loss for many years."

I think RSM were in this position about 10 years ago. Sale of land for development and affiliation to RGS pulled them out of the mire as did the closure of Doods Brow. However the land sale proposal was in the pipeline before the merger primarily to fund investment in new facilities and refurbishment, which is something I felt D was in serious need of when I viewed 3+ years ago. Too many temporary structures past their sell-by date, although those may have been more on the junior site.

11jackie Sun 02-Feb-14 12:12:22

Nice to see some people on hear remember RSM in the poo some time back. mmmm. Not sure why chocolate wombat so negative all the time. Dunottar is making serious progress here and maybe once its turned co-ed … yes RSM will have competition something RGS and RSM are desperate to avoid. Watch this space … Oh and another thing Chocolate wombat how do you feel watching RGS slipping in the league tables yet again. You are not the best school in Surrey sorry but CATERHAM is and you will always be second place to them…!! ouch…. The only attraction to RSM now is that most kids AUTOMATICALLY get into RGS and the poor lasses who don't, get the dreaded phone call …..Everyone should sit the exam or your standards will drop. Yes most comments are from parents of Dunottar not quite sure why your so desperate to put negative comments on here all the time…

11jackie Sun 02-Feb-14 12:21:40

Cant believe the kids have tutors as well at the Grammar dear oh dear….. desperate to keep up….. very sad indeed.

Luckypup22 Sun 02-Feb-14 12:29:55

OMG ^ so bitchy, absolutely not necessary

ChocolateWombat Sun 02-Feb-14 12:41:18

The discussion is about the viability of Dunottar. That is all I have commented on. I don't know about RGS in league tables, or Caterham, or Tutoring anywhere. And I have said comments about RGS are a smokescreen and missing the point about numbers.
Some people on here are very emotional about this. I understand emotions run high when your daughters education is at stake. I take a dispassionate view which I am able to, because I am not emotionally involved. There is space on a forum like this for people to comment who are not directly involved in it all....but some people don't like to be pointed in the direction of the key issue of numbers. This is however what will determine the outcome. Nuff said.

LIZS Sun 02-Feb-14 12:47:21

Am confused as to what purpose this inter-school hostility is benefitting?You need people onside not alienated. If anything it portrays DV as inward-looking and desperate , which are not characteristics I recognise in those involved I know. Be careful what you wish for though, even if the D site and name is salvaged it will not stay the same school, with or without RGS input.

Sheldonswhiteboard Sun 02-Feb-14 14:09:02

I'm not sure if selling off land is practical, from what I remember a lot of it is heavily sloped wood that goes down to the playing field (remembers the climb back up when I attended fixtures there!), so impractical to build on. The playing field is surrounded so don't see how you'd get access to it and at the top of the hill is the school buildings. Parents judge schools on facilities, building on playing fields etc isn't going to create a particularly strong impression. Dunottar has to get the numbers up from 186 as they are now quoting. With a strong management team maybe they can do it.

The bitchy comments up thread are completely uncalled for, it does not help your cause in any way. I don't think that RGS and Dunottar see each other as rivals they are completely different schools.

LJElphick Sun 02-Feb-14 14:18:16

I don't know why this is even in any way a thread to attack RGS OR Dunottar. It isn't either and doing so doesn't make anyone lok or feel good.

There are so many rumours around that it is really difficult for parents, teachers and girls to make choices. It seems in the Dunottar campaigners interests to encourage as much clarity as possible. There hasn't even been a proposal made by the Dunottar Voice group but they have only had a couple of weeks so one will come out soon enough. It may even be that their proposal has 5 elements to it?

I find the current situation very sad and also very interesting. I didn't think, for instance, that RSM sold land 10 years ago. Which land was that? I thought that RGS pumped in milions but I didn't realise there was any land sale. It is entirely possible because it is a long time ago. Interesting.

The RSM recovery may well be a blue print for a Dunottar recovery although the bridges may have been burnt with RGS now! The Dunottar Voice group may well have found a similar sponsor willing to make a long term comitment to get them through approx 4 or 5 years (?) of loss and to offer some capital investment in the mean time to give the confidence 'bounce' that will help recruitment. If they have then there will inevitably be a time of some confidential negotiations so watch this space..... Would GSA or GDST be ableto help with this? I wonder if that is why the Dunottar Voice group seemed to rule out single sex last weekend but have now seemed to warm to girls' only once agaon.Maybe the sponsor they have found likes single sex?
I admit that this is a totally speculative comment, not intended to offend anyone or be anti RGS or anti Dunottar or whatever - I think there are probably fewer conspiracies that our imaginations conjur up. I suspect most people are just looking to discuss and understand. Having an opinion shouldn't be seen as point scoring.(although I wil agree that 11Jackie seems to have overstepped the mark a lot as her comments seem only designed to cause hurt).

byebye1 Sun 02-Feb-14 16:32:50

Good luck everyone on here at all schools. Heres to the future!

DorkingMum Sun 02-Feb-14 21:22:42

I can't believe the blatant nastiness on here, and the general RGS-bashing going on in all the DV communications. So I thought the DV team might be interested to know that their nasty tactics have had a distinctly negative impact in this household.
Are the DV team so naive as to ignore the fact that lots of parents could have children in both schools?
Our son is at RGS and he/ we really couldn't be happier - it is an absolutely amazing school with fabulous teachers and hard-working, talented children.
However for a number of reasons we were planning on our daughter joining Dunottar in Sept 2014 as we felt that the non-selective all girl environment might suit her better.
However after seeing how existing Dunottar parents are behaving on here, and as part of this so-called action group, I have to say I want nothing to do with these people and we now have absolutely no intention of sending our daughter to this school ( if it still exists by then anyway!)

I'm sick of getting these one-sided pieces of propaganda from DV ( press releases, open letters), and the way they are trying to twist the facts to suit their version of events and turn the local community against RGS. Don't be fooled folks - these people are underhand and not to be trusted - a bunch of spin doctors.

RGS isn't trying to 'close down the competition' because Dunottar isn't the competition, and RGS could fill it's school many times over it is now so over-subscribed.

Anyway, well done DV, because as of this week your potential numbers will have dropped by at least one more child....and hopefully more once I've talked to more of my friends.

elsma Sun 02-Feb-14 22:47:16

Gosh, DorkingMum, I've certainly not seen the communication from DV in the same light you have... and I know a lot of DV people have children at both schools, indeed some have daughters at the two different schools and really appreciate the two different approaches for getting the best out of a specific child. What I have heard is a call for choice, and that must be a good thing for us all.
Yes, some individuals have been mean, emotional, sharp. Under stress we all can be. In my experience this is not a fair reflection of the Dunottar community in general, the DV team or the wonderful teaching staff.
Anyway, sorry to hear this has affected you - and coloured your view of a great school - so badly. I'm sure DV people will be sad about that too.

boo97 Sun 02-Feb-14 23:26:57

elsma, I'm afraid I agree with DorkingMum, there does seem to be a lot of RGS bashing going on in all the DV communications and a particularly unpleasant and mostly inaccurate post by an individual poster up thread. This really does the DV campaign no favours at all. I really think that DV needs to look more closely at the problems with in Dunottar itself rather than looking to blame RGS for all its problems. RGS is an amazing school, with outstanding pastoral care, outstanding teachers and moving my daughter away from the bullying at Dunottar to RGS was one of the best things I have ever done. Perhaps DV should look to the good things at RGS and try to learn from them rather than bashing them. As I have said in my previous posts, I really do feel for the girls, their families and teachers at Dunottar. I understand that it is a really stressful and emotional time, but lashing out at RGS is putting Dunottar in a very negative light in the outside community.

LJElphick Mon 03-Feb-14 07:10:59

Please can we call a truce?

Wills123 Mon 03-Feb-14 07:38:23

Well said, LJElphick. Boo97: I know who you are. I know the year 9 students who left D to go to RGS and none of them were bullied. I know you have an axe to grind and you're using this as a forum by pretending to be a year 9 parent. I'm sorry your daughter (and I know which year group she's really in) wasn't happy at D. I can imagine the parents of D girls who are being bullied by RGS students on the buses everyday are also unhappy. It's an emotional time for everyone at the moment and I think everyone should take a step back, take a deep breath and focus on the facts rather than using this forum as a place to air hidden agendas.

LIZS Mon 03-Feb-14 08:08:52

wills, I'm not sure personal attacks are going to further the cause of DV nor are in the spirit of a truce.

fwiw dc was bullied in another school but I doubt any of the parents, or even many of the staff, would have been aware. In other circumstances it may well not have even been considered as bullying behaviour but the effect was the same.

DorkingMum Mon 03-Feb-14 08:21:44

"Please can we call a truce?"

Only if these wretched DV people stop littering our streets and inboxes with their obnoxious propaganda. A friend of mine in Reigate came home yesterday to find a copy of the 'open letter' shoved through her letterbox!
Like me, she is disgusted by their whole approach. Well, ya boo to them, as she is withdrawing her Year 8 daughter as she says she just doesn't want to be any part of it.

LIZS Mon 03-Feb-14 08:29:37

There is a real risk that an overly enthusiastic and aggressive campaign could back fire, alienating prospective parents, staff , supporters and investors. Perhaps the DV coordinators need to take an overview and rein it back a bit, at least until there is a positive and cohesive proposal on the table.

lostinsurrey Mon 03-Feb-14 11:07:35

We must remember that there are two sides to every story and as we live in a free world each side is entitled to free speech.

Maybe the DV group are being over zealous with their campgain but it shows spirit and determination.

It would also be good to hear what RGS has done to help Dunottar over the past year and their thoughts on what their plan is for the Dunottar sight should the school close.

I would also like to correct the fact that one of the posters has said that the kids get automatic entry from RSM to RGS this already happens at Caterham and Lingfield Notre Dame. The kids might take the exam but those in yr6 are assured of a place in the senior school.

With regards to the coaching maybe a less pressurised co-ed in this area would be a good idea instead of the pressured RGS/Caterham "all we want is to be is top of the league tables".

I must also point out that Dunottar is not and has never been the same sized school as RGS and I would guess ideally they need 280 pupils to be in a good position. That said and having the junior school closed and subsequent drop in numbers a 5 yr plan to bring the numbers back up should have been implemented when RGS came to help Dunottar not a 1yr plan as it has turned out.

As I have said in my previous posts Dunottar have always been in a good financial position without debt. Those doubters should have a look at the charities commission website and you will see that RGS and Caterham both have large bankloans which are noted in their accounts.

I do hope a solution can be found and with the increase in housing in the east surrey area we must keep as many schools open as possible.

lostinsurrey Mon 03-Feb-14 11:08:09

I mean site

byebye1 Mon 03-Feb-14 11:41:20

Good comment lostinsurrey. All we are saying on here really is we feel more support from RGS. Parents are worried sick, children are so upset that friends are going everyone put yourselves in their shoes. Your right, we have no debts. Fact. Other schools do as you rightly suggest. Rumours will circulate quick. Our first wave of girls leaving was a rumour supposedly telling everyone to get out quick. People will panic,people will stay. Please all I ask if you work in a school please remember the confidentiality agreement. Feel sorry for parents with one child at each school. Dunottar is one special school and is so different from their neighbour. Please think of the children and not yourselves.

byebye1 Mon 03-Feb-14 11:52:41

Sorry dorking mum. No one is trying to twist the facts. It's really simple. D came to RGS for help. No much was evident. Our action group is marvellous and shows great spirit. Contributions are flowing in. A lot of people on here have been at D a long time ....and it shows. Regardless of the comments, yes some are negative, that's life! What will be will be but we are not giving up yet. ! Sorry. By the way the comment which says do the parents know what's going on at Boxhill, the old Head just left, nothing sinister . We need another coed in Reigate. Fact. !

Luckypup22 Mon 03-Feb-14 12:33:24

I also would like to correct an earlier post, I actually have a child at RSM currently and you are not guaranteed an automatic place at RGS.

DorkingMum Mon 03-Feb-14 12:42:01

I'm afraid anyone who needs to resort to saying "Fact" to prove their point has long since lost the intellectual debate in my mind.

I too hope that RGS come forward to defend themselves in due course (not that they need to), but meanwhile I think their dignified silence is probably serving them well, as it is in sharp contrast with the shrill DV propaganda machine which is rapidly causing itself more harm than good in the Reigate community.

I have no doubt that the DV team will cherry pick the results of their questionnaire to suit their proposals. Interesting too that few, if any, of the DV team are willing to be publicly identified - the press reports are all "John, who didn't give his surname" etc.

It's all very sad, and as someone else said, not a great example to be setting for our children.

lostinsurrey Mon 03-Feb-14 12:49:35

I would also like to clarify if you have a child in Yr 6 at Lingfield Notre Dame or Caterham your child has a place in the Senior School. The Yr6 pupils take the exam but have a place where as at RSM not all the Yr6 pupils have automatic entry without having to take the 11+. I guess that there is probably some movement of pupils out of the schools in LND and Caterham before Yr6 so that they all the remaining pupils continue at the school. Some yr6's may still go elsewhere. I gather that this is now common across most independents schools with a Junior school.

lostinsurrey Mon 03-Feb-14 12:52:13

Dignified silence of RGS or worried silence not sure which. Hope it is dignified!

byebye1 Mon 03-Feb-14 13:07:11

Here here lostinsurrey. Hope it is dignified too. Gosh Dorking mum sorry but the truth is there. We have no debt. Interesting when you look at the destinations of the year 6s at RSM quite a lot move around and don't actually go to RGS. Wonder why….Probably all gone to Caterham !
I agree I think we are all waiting for RGS to speak out a bit more. Gone all quiet if you ask me! Stop having a dig at our DV team. We aren't going away yet! Come on Dunottar!

byebye1 Mon 03-Feb-14 13:11:27

By the way I don't blame people who do not give their full name dorking mum, after all, you have a nickname on here too , so your doing the same!

Luckypup22 Mon 03-Feb-14 13:40:18

Why does RGS have to come forward to defend itself?? Surely there is nothing to defend, it is not a battle between the two schools, I don't understand why people are trying to make out that it is.

ChocolateWombat Mon 03-Feb-14 13:56:03

I was watching Dragons Den last night. I wondered if the Dragons were given a chance to invest in Dunottar if they would. They only go for things which look properly viable.

What would they ask those seeking investment?

What are your current numbers. ? (When given numbers from 2010 or 6 months ago, they would say 'No, I want your current numbers'
What are your projections and what are they based on. (The Dragons often say, 'oh you've carried out a survey. But how many actual orders do you have ?)
What actually is Dunottar? We know it s well loved school, but will it be girls, mixed, mixed in 6th form or what? Because we can't invest if we don't know what Dunottar will actually be.

They might also ask about longer term trends with numbers.
I don't think they would be interested in a debate which is running between some people who want to blame another business and those defending it, all they would be interested in is Dunottar.

Does this help to clarify the key issues? Maybe not, but I thought it might for some people.

lostinsurrey Mon 03-Feb-14 14:00:52

Luckypup22 I think but tell me if I am wrong that you are missing the point. RGS and Dunottar share Governors and RGS Group of Schools was supposed to be helping Dunottar and we have yet to see any evidence of that help.

Again I re-iterate my point that there are two sides to this but am yet to hear what RGS have done. Hope to be surprised!

byebye1 Mon 03-Feb-14 14:05:07

If my memory serves right … think it may have something to do with the RGS governors. Yes thats it….

Luckypup22 Mon 03-Feb-14 14:41:52

Last year when D asked for help, they signed themselves over to be part of the RGS Group, so all 3 schools come under the umbrella that is RGS, the governors of the group have decided that D is not viable, I'm sure this was not taken as a snap decision. A consultation period is a statutory requirement that has to be put in place preceding the closure of a school, it is merely a formality. I'm sure that RGS will comment at the end of the consultation period, but as I said they have nothing to defend.

DorkingMum Mon 03-Feb-14 14:43:55

Going on about Dunottar not having any debt is irrelevant. A business may have no debt but no prospects either, and many successful businesses have huge debts but a solid, viable plan to pay them off, via promising sales data - that's what Wombat is saying.

I think there's a big difference between being quoted as a press spokesperson for the school but wishing to remain anonymous, and posting on a web forum?

I have no interest in making it a battle between two schools, because it clearly isn't. But some posters on here don't seem to understand that, and think the only way to 'win' is to throw mud across the fence at another school. Very petty.
In reality this 'competition' between the schools only exists in the minds of mums with too much time on their hands - not between the children, many of whom are friends, siblings and neighbours. I may be a RGS parent, but I went to a Caterham school show last week, and would be the first to say that it was fantastic. Our Caterham neighbour likes to come to RGS music productions because she says they are 'West End quality'.

I see that DV have now posted an update with a list of what they're doing currently. As a former 'prospective parent' I will fill in their questionnaire to share my views - and I'd encourage everyone, supporter or dissenter to do the same

byebye1 Mon 03-Feb-14 14:59:16

Thank you lostinsurrey. They still don't get it! Could you imagine the shoe on the other foot! Lol. Yes dorking mum too much time on their hands! Can't wait to here what RGS say..no doubt more surprises! Lol. I'm right with you lostinsurrey! Just listened again to radio susy such a great interview. Still we did gain one thing ...shared coach runs wow...that saves the day then!

Sheldonswhiteboard Mon 03-Feb-14 18:27:46

But Dunottar didn't just gain shared coach runs. If what Dunottar voice says is true the RGS trustees gave a letter of comfort to the auditors of the Dunottar accounts. This would underwrite any shortfall that Dunottar made in the next financial year. As it turns out they didn't have a shortfall but what if they had done, the RGS trustees would have had to pay out. It doesn't matter whether they had to pay out or not. The Dunottar trustees effectively bought an insurance policy from the RGS trustees. It's like buying a life assurance policy that will pay out if you die in the next five years, you don't die, the policy doesn't pay out, you don't get your money back. No actual money may have changed hands during the transaction but the RGS trustees took the risk nevertheless.
So I don't think it's accurate to say Dunottar didn't get anything, if the RGS trustees hadn't given the letter of comfort what would have happened to Dunottar?

I think the survey is a good idea but needs opening out to parents who decided that Dunottar wasn't for them, there needs to be an understanding of what the individuals were looking for that they didn't think Dunottar could give them.

legaleagle1 Mon 03-Feb-14 18:55:59

Yes, but the policy provider terminated the policy too soon.
I rest my case

elsma Mon 03-Feb-14 18:57:51

Thanks, DorkingMum, promoting the survey is an excellent suggestion. If prospective parents say that one option or another will encourage them. Or that the school is never going to be for them. Or whatever. There is some solid data to build a plan from.
There links on the www.dunottarvoice.com website.

Sheldonswhiteboard Mon 03-Feb-14 19:08:51

Did they though? according to the open letter on Dunottar voice the letter of comfort provided the guarantee for the following year and it was agreed that the trustees could close school regardless of whether it was in financial difficulties, so it looks like they didn't terminate the "policy" early, they give the guarantee for the year. I appreciate that Dunottar voice may be privy to information that hasn't been made public so the situation may be different to what is being presented but in that case surely it would be better to provide the whole picture or none at all.

legaleagle1 Mon 03-Feb-14 19:21:42

The formation of a formidable legal team would not be taken lightly. The case would not even be take unless there was a high chance of success.

Sheldonswhiteboard Mon 03-Feb-14 19:25:33

Maybe not, but in my experience it's usually lawyers who benefit most from these situations unless they are on a no win no fee basis!

ChocolateWombat Mon 03-Feb-14 19:46:38

This is interesting information. I understand the RGS involvement more now.
They made a limited time frame guarantee, but it sounds like nothing else. (If Im wrong about this and RGS made other specific promises, I'd be interested to know what they were, from someone with more information) I wonder if everyone was made aware of the limited nature of help that was offered. This supports what I have thought all along, which is that the Head at Dunottar was buying time. She didn't really expect the school to be saved long term by the merger, but to gain a year or so, for the staff and pupils. Perhaps the very limited nature of the help offered wasn't made clear to the parents or staff and they thought RGS were offering to do whatever was needed to get them up and running well again.....which might not be possible, whatever is done. Lots of people on here have been very angry about what they have seen as the lack of help from RGS, but thinking about it, no one has ever given any actual examples of what they had said they would do, that they then didn't.
Did parents and others object to the idea of the merger at the time? Because complaining now seems a bit too late. Dunottar approached RGS not the other way round. RGS made them an offer and Dunottar accepted it. Don't think it was a foolish decision on the part of Dunottar who sound like they were being pragmatic and trying to achieve the least bad scenario.......but problematic if not fully explained, though I can see it would be difficult to explain to parents and staff and maintain morale.

So does it sound like the bottom line is that RGS provided the year long guarantee to the auditors, which was enough to keep the school open. During that time, there was not a significant enough improvement in numbers (which everyone truly on the inside expected to be the case) so likely closure was announced. Of course, then numbers fell even more and the numbers who will be willing to take the big risk required, to send their children to a school in this position, possibly carrying on in a new untested format, , are unknown. People pledge support for Dunottar,But it's not the same as taking that risk with their childrens education and signing up and paying the big cheque.

Posters, if you were not part of Dunottar already (and I know some of you are and some of you aren't) would you take that risk? It needs a lot of people not to just say they will, but to do it for dunottar to continue. Perhaps I am wrong and there are lots of people out there, who would choose that over the alternatives?? I actually would like Dunottar to be able to continue as a girls school, because I think having choices is good. However, I realise that whatvI would like and what is viable are not then are thing.

ChocolateWombat Mon 03-Feb-14 19:53:55

Sorry about typos. At the end, I meant 'not the same thing'.

LadyMuck Mon 03-Feb-14 19:59:02

Any legal case isn't going to change the immediate future though. And it is very likely from what is in the public domain,that there won't be a "case" at all. It isn't as if the trustees themselves are gaining financially from any arrangement, nor do they appear to have overstepped their legal powers in any way. They may not have adopted the best course of action in order to secure the future operation of the school, but it will be interesting to see which laws have been broken. it is not in itself illegal to be unsuccessful in business.

What is of more concern legally is the precise legal constitution of Dunottar Voice, or whoever the recipient of the £21k fund is? In whose name is a bank account being opened, and to whom are they accountable? The trustees of either Dunottar or RGS are not remunerated and act in a voluntary basis, and the terms under which they can claim expenses are tightly governed, to say nothing of their requirements to publish accounts etc. Who are the trustees of Dunottar Voice?

redillredneck Mon 03-Feb-14 20:01:24

Let me start by saying that I think Dunottar is a fabulous school that provides excellent education for its girls and inspires a wonderful loyalty to the school. They have fabulous results, value added, Uni destinations, music, art, charity fundraising, pastoral care etc etc . It is hard to find anything at all about Dunottar that is not excellent apart from the number of families who are willing to send their daughters to the school. I hope that the school survives and thrives as I think 85 years of Girls only education should not end like this nor be allowed to just drift into being another of the many coed schools around. it is an excellent Girls School.

I mean that but even so, it doesn't mean that we should allow the really understandable campaigning emotion cloud the issue and somehow blame RGS for the problems of low numbers.

From the letter sent today:
The Dunottar Headteacher and Trustees had allowed the school to get to a position where they felt they desperately needed help. This is the fundamental problem.

The prep had 5 or 6 girls in some year group.

Without RGS support, apparently there would have been a closure with little notice and no provision for girls half way through their exams if Dunottar had not found a partner to underwrite it.
I think the need for a quick closure is disputed but it must have been somewhere near this level of desperation for Dunottar Governors to have approached RGS to become controlled by RGS Governors in the first place!

Remember at the time of the announcement last year, Dunottar insisted on being left as a separate school. There was no appetite from any announcements at Dunottar to be seen as 'taken over', they clearly positioned themselves as wanting the chance to be a stand alone girls school. That is what happened.

I have never read any promise from RGS Governors to save or prop up Dunottar. Mr Walters said at Prize Giving that numbers needed to improve or the school would not be viable. He was criticised for it but he should not be blamed for making false promises. It may be a shock that Dunottar numbers are so low but it should not be a shock that RGS Governors were merely giving Dunottar one more year, one more recruitment round to recover its fortunes. That was said repeatedly.

Apparently this year saw registrations / girls taking the exam increase by 2 girls from last year. Last years registrations of 47 saw 17 or 18 join the school. According to the RGS e mail today, usually less than 50% of those taking the exam accept a place. So, an increase of 2 registrations to 49 would logically lead to 18 or 19 in a year group if 47 taking the exam resulted in 17 or 18 girls joining. That is just continuing a trend that was in place before Dunottar asked RGS to take over the Governance.

RGS Governors were never asked to 'save Dunottar'. It was clear that the RGS involvement would lead to some breathing space, some new Governors, some new ideas, some minor collaboration like over buses and sports facilities etc. Despite the emotion, it may be that the new Governors are making the difficult but necessary decisions.

Dunottar is an excellent school but RGS Governors are being blamed when it is not their fault that the school that had already been allowed to get so small that it may have been too far gone.

Sheldonswhiteboard Mon 03-Feb-14 20:03:22

chocolate, I've only gleaned that information from the Dunottar voice open letter, there could be more info that we aren't seeing so I don't know what or wasn't promised by the RGS trustees.

As to whether I would choose Dunottar, I didn't a few years ago. I didn't think it was the right school for my daughter and even then I thought it was too small. That said I can see why it is the right school for others but it would take a fairly large leap of faith to sign up to it now. I think if a business plan can be agreed by the trustees then that makes it a safer bet. I don't think anyone can make a decision until then, certainly parents of existing pupils at Dunottar are looking at alternative places in case it shuts. I hope it survives, it's good to have choice!

ChocolateWombat Mon 03-Feb-14 20:12:18

Redillredneck, thank you for that post. The numbers you mention are the kind of thing we all need to know to start to get the full picture.
I realise the DV job is to try to save the school. I admire the hours people must be putting into this. However, if they don't give a full picture of the situation in the past and over the last year and now, they don't really the people who are struggling in this, which is the girls and their parents and the staff too. Those people with most at stake need to know how bad things had got. They need to know what was and wasn't promised. If the end result is closure, they need to be able to walk away from it, knowing the truth behind it all. I'm not sure exactly who stands to gain from focusing blame on RGS....but I don't think it is the parents and girls.

Sheldonswhiteboard Mon 03-Feb-14 20:13:00

ladymuck there is a limited Co, Dunottar Voice Limited with three named directors, publicly available information from Companies House.

byebye1 Mon 03-Feb-14 20:18:03

All that RGS provided was..... Sorry cant think of anything. Dunottar people stick together . Ignore all this why, what, if, but. It will always be Dunottar School no matter what. Remember your child is not just a number at Dunottar. Keep strong my friends!

Sheldonswhiteboard Mon 03-Feb-14 20:27:33

What RGS provided for Dunottar was a lifeline for a year by underwriting any shortfall. What would have happened to Dunottar if that guarantee hadn't been provided? No one seems to be able to answer that question?

byebye1 Mon 03-Feb-14 20:51:17

There was no shortfall. Not sure people on here realise how long we have to wait before D day and what parents , children, teachers , office staff, cleaners, caterers, dance teachers, flipper club , caretakers are going through. Oh and of course the Governors. It affects everyone.

legaleagle1 Mon 03-Feb-14 21:00:40

At the start of last year Dunottar parents were informed that it was proposed that Dunottar become part of the RGS group of schools but with a separate board of trustees . The proposal had to be backed by parents and staff and a short "consultation" period ensued. Remember "part of the RGS group of schools" it is even signed on the side of the new mini bus lent to Dunottar. Part of the RGS group of schools in the same way that RSM is part of the group. This gave parents, staff and the girls confidence in the proposal. Never ever was it said that the arrangement was for a year. If all were told of the time frame then there would not be the outcry that there is now which has have motivated so many people.

Sheldonswhiteboard Mon 03-Feb-14 21:11:14

I'd certainly not want to be in the position that you and others find yourselves all those affected certainly have my sympathy. The closest I've come is being made redundant and it's horrible as it impacts the whole family and your plans for the future.

My point about the guarantee isn't whether there ended up being a shortfall, it's that the Dunottar trustees effectively purchased an insurance policy in case there was a shortfall. They didn't pay over a premium in cash terms but appear to have signed over the control of the schools assets if the articles were changed in the way it's stated in the open letter, that appears to be the premium they paid. Whether that was a reasonable premium is another matter, I guess that was a matter for the trustees to decide.

I hope the school has a future whether that is as a girls school or co-ed.

Luckypup22 Mon 03-Feb-14 21:11:53

To answer your question, if RGS hasn't stepped in to help when D requested then D would of have to close down abruptly in July 2013. This information was in a letter to RGS and RSM families from the chairman of governors.

Bellie Mon 03-Feb-14 21:15:53

Hold on here.

From what everyone is saying RGS last year said that they were undertaking to underwriting D for ONE year.
What did they hope to do within that year? Offers were out to entrants for 2013 and even in the uncertain times that surrounded the underwriting there was still 20% uptake. (and there was VERY limited information in the public of what RGS/D collaborating meant)
Not sure how D was supposed to 'up' the numbers anymore from Sept 2013 - Jan 2014.
As an educational establishment who has the purpose of 'ensuring provision for children in and around the Reigate area' surely they would know that it would take more than 11 months to turn the numbers in a school around.

As RGS are such a highly esteemed establishment within Reigate, the pure fact that they were backing D would have meant that there would have been a higher number of uptake for 2014 entry, as there was more confidence in D with RGS backing.

Much of the confidence was from the chair of governors at the intial 'collaboration' about shared purchasing power, and much more than coaches were mentioned. The meeting that RGS/RSM held talked about shared office personnel, catering, stationary ordering, and other economies of scale. The only thing that is visable and has happened is the coaches. D apparently gave a long list the RGS which included all the office staff at D being made redundant. This was rejected by RGS

However, it seems that the collaboration was not meant to be. RGS felt they were unable to underwrite D anymore.

As everyone keeps saying, an Independent School is a business. Therefore surely as a business, when you agree to underwrite something that you are putting your name to, you would actually have a 5 year plan to ensure that your reputation is not tarnished. In education there is ONE point in each year that you can prove your numbers - SEPTEMBER.

I do not have children at the school. In fact I have children in the RGS/RSM group.

I still look it at it objectively and wonder why RGS wanted to take this on if they were only going to support for less than 12 months. It makes no business sense whatsoever.

From the outside, it would appear that neither school is coming out of this well, but it is certainly keeping Reigate alive with gossip and detracting from all the other changes that are going on with other schools in the area!

alberteinstein Mon 03-Feb-14 21:16:05

legaleagle - was it really just for 1 year?

Bellie Mon 03-Feb-14 21:17:54

Last February there was no mention of one year at any meeting or in any documentation to RSM/RGS parents.

alberteinstein Mon 03-Feb-14 21:19:36

Luckypup ... is there proof that D would have closed in July 2013? Where is this available for us all to see? Just interested. thanks.

legaleagle1 Mon 03-Feb-14 21:21:12

Does anyone have a transcript of "that speech" made at Dunottar's prize giving last year? It will be needed.

Luckypup22 Mon 03-Feb-14 21:24:37

As I said it was in a letter issued to RGS and RSM parents from Alan Walker, gov chairman on 15 th jan, along with explaining that D was going into a consultation period. I dint have evidence, just the letter as I am a parent to children in both schools.

Sheldonswhiteboard Mon 03-Feb-14 21:31:17

I'm only getting the one year time period from the Dunottar voice open letter that states that the comfort letter was provided for any shortfall in the following year." I would agree that a business plan for a school would need more than 1 year to be executed, maybe they thought that after the school became part of the RGS group that any further comfort letters wouldn't be needed due to there being more confidence in the future of the school and hopefully pupil numbers increasing.

Bellie Mon 03-Feb-14 21:31:25

Luckypup - this was the first mention of the one year guarantee though? Bit late for the parents to be given this information for the first time?

Luckypup22 Mon 03-Feb-14 21:32:28

I don't think a year was ever specified, someone up the thread pointed out that a year was mentioned in the open letter from DV, just an unfortunate wording in the letter from DV when describing the agreement with RGS.

Bellie Mon 03-Feb-14 21:35:54

Sheldon as I said though, a bit hard to up the numbers in fairness to D, as the entry point is September (ok a few outside of this date, but not many across any school!).

The confidence appeared to have been returning across Reigate based on the fact that D was within the group (although as a separate company, as RSM were at the beginning of their eventual total merger into RGS). D do not appear to have been given the time afforded to RSM to turn numbers around in the same way. 11 months is not time enough in a normal business, far less in education with ONE main point of entry.

Sheldonswhiteboard Mon 03-Feb-14 21:46:05

Bellie, I would agree that 1 year wouldn't be sufficient time, but maybe they thought that as you indicated the confidence would return to Dunottar and the comfort letter wouldn't be required beyond that year, especially if the numbers only needed a marginal improvement. I'm not clear whether numbers did increase over that time or not.

alberteinstein Mon 03-Feb-14 22:00:20

Sorry, this question seems to have got lost in the noise.

Luckypup ... is there proof that D would have closed in July 2013? Where is this available for us all to see? Just interested. thanks.

Luckypup22 Mon 03-Feb-14 22:08:38

I personally don't have proof, this was information stated in a letter to RGS and RSM parents from chairman of governors on 15 th jan which also told us about the consultation peroid that D was going through. I am a parent to both schools so I received this letter as an email from school.

Bellie Mon 03-Feb-14 22:11:17

Sheldon, agreed, I'm not sure that the numbers did increase, but at the time of the announcement of consultation for closure the numbers were only 5% short. Given that they did not wait to see what the numbers would be for 2014 entry I'm still waiting to be shown what RGS did actually do to assist D to get a rise in numbers.

Certainly the evidence that I have seen is that they accepted a large number of girls from year 9 in D without following the normal process, and they asked them to start within a week of sitting testing.

Also (and this is only hearsay but very strong hearsay!!) RGS said that they would be able to waive the terms notice - completely outside of process and also completely undermining D's position, and ability to stabilise their numbers. They have not accepted anyone from other schools in these circumstances I am led to believe.

However, I am sure that this will all become clear in the fullness of time. I am not trying to stir between one school and another, but find it interesting from a business perspective and as I have said before, I strongly believe in choice within Reigate.

I know that RSM is not completely automatic feed into RGS, but that will be the prep of choice if RGS is the only senior in the town. I wonder what Micklefield are thinking? Have they been asked to complete the survey?

alberteinstein Mon 03-Feb-14 22:14:47

Luckypup: forgive me. When you said: "To answer your question, if RGS hasn't stepped in to help when D requested then D would of have to close down abruptly in July 2013." I thought you had proof of that. I do apologise.

I wonder if anyone else can corroborate that?

Luckypup22 Mon 03-Feb-14 22:17:13

I have a daughter in yr9 at RGS and she knows if the new girls from D, there are only 4 or 5 that have started since Christmas, so not really large numbers. The reason that RGS wanted to start the girls ASAP after testing, is because the yr9s at rgs have already started on their gcse courses and they wanted the girls from D to not miss out. Hope this explains.

Bellie Mon 03-Feb-14 22:20:17

Luckypup it does help, but I guess in terms of numbers that would be large to D as they only have 190 (?) in the school in total - in fact that would almost be the 5% shortfall that the governors are saying is part of the reason for closure?

legaleagle1 Mon 03-Feb-14 22:24:10

The situation is shameful and the fact the plug was pulled without even the headmistress of Dunottar being told reinforces the case for legal action. As there is now more media interest with more radio broadcast planned that may extend to national radio, the material support for the school has been beyond belief.

Luckypup22 Mon 03-Feb-14 22:24:34

Yes bellie, very true. We have also been told that the magic number was 194 at beginning of sept 13 and has since reduced as more girls have left since then. So I guess numbers are definitely below 190 now.
An awful situation for everyone involved and the waiting process must be very difficult. I think we all need to be patient to wait and see what the final outcome will be.

ChocolateWombat Mon 03-Feb-14 22:36:39

Given the falling numbers and uncertainty over its future, I really wonder, where these increased numbers are expected to come from. For people outside of Dunottar choosing a school, they have the choice of a number of successful, growing, tried and tested schools.....or they can't take a risk with their child's future and go for the one with all this hanging over it, or in its immediate past, if it is saved. You would have to be very convinced all of this wasn't going to recur a few years down the line to take that risk, wouldn't you. How many people will really put their money where their mouths are, even if they in principle support Dunottar.
Sad, but the downward spiral can reach a point from which there is no return. I don't know if it is at that point yet, but suspect it is.

alberteinstein Mon 03-Feb-14 22:43:28

Legaleagle - is it true that the plug was pulled without the headteacher being told?

alberteinstein Mon 03-Feb-14 22:48:26

Luckypup - it turns out that a friend's yr9 daughter was told to move in Nov or forever hold her peace. Yet more have been allowed to jump ship at similarly short notice since then? RGS is a veritable tardis.

legaleagle1 Mon 03-Feb-14 22:49:03

I understand the head was told the evening before the shock announcement to staff and parents the following morning.

Luckypup22 Mon 03-Feb-14 22:52:10

I guess that shows that RGS are very accommodating in accepting D girls and want to help as much as they can.

alberteinstein Mon 03-Feb-14 22:57:37

Ah. That is so kind of them.

alberteinstein Mon 03-Feb-14 22:59:17

£18000 a year's worth of kind. I wish I could be so kind.

Luckypup22 Mon 03-Feb-14 23:07:13

No Einstein, you are not kind. You pretend to be and then pull out a nasty comment. And you are completely wrong about the £18k. If you want to get a dig in, then at least get your facts correct or you just end up looking bitter, jealous and petty. Whatever is your agenda.

legaleagle1 Mon 03-Feb-14 23:11:34

Have just been told be a colleague that school governors can held personally responsible for their actions, scarey!

alberteinstein Mon 03-Feb-14 23:13:47

It is merely an observation. RGS fees are over &poun