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06:00 Friday 15 June 2012  Written by Francis Batt

Threatened school's future looks secure

New heads Michael Hockley and Paul Thompson
New heads Michael Hockley and Paul Thompson

A private school that faced economic collapse and closure two years ago has been turned around.

Staff changes and efficient financial management have helped save Brigidine School in Kings Road, Windsor, which will also expand its intake to include boys up to age 11.

The school lost money every year except one between 2004 and 2010, but this week chairman of governors Michael Fleming said a profit of £50,000 to £100,000 was expected at the end of the school year.

He said: "We carried out a root and branch review, bringing our uniform shop and catering system in house, introducing a culture of making a surplus.

"Now if our caretaker sees something needs doing, he does it himself instead of bringing someone in. Efficient can still be effective."

It has been a painful period. At one point parents and governors were split over whether the school should join the state system, although this idea has now been abandoned.

Pupil numbers dropped from 260 to 170, and only seven of the original 12 governors left.

The five remaining, who included former head Sister Patricia, have been joined by six newcomers including two accountants and a lawyer.

Staff numbers have been reduced from 75 to 55 with five or six redundancies. Most of the reductions came from non-teaching staff.

The school still has 60 per cent Catholic pupils and is 80 per cent Christian, but Mr Fleming said it is now multi-faith.

He said "We remain a faith-based school with a strong moral compass."

Although primarily a girls' school, Brigidine has always taken boys up to the age of seven. This will now expand to 11.

Headteacher Elizabeth Robinson has left and the school now boasts joint heads - New Zealander Paul Thompson, 43, who already worked at the school as pastoral head and English teacher, while Michael Hockley, 60, has experience as a head in the state and independent system.

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