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Prestigious British girls school to close

April 22, 2009 at 1:17 AM   |   Comments

ASHFORD, England, April 22 (UPI) -- A British girls school that opened almost 300 years ago is closing because of the economic slump.

St. David's in Ashford, a London suburb, has faced declining numbers of students for some years, mostly because parents are less likely to send students to same-sex schools, The Times of London reported Tuesday. But school officials say the recession sealed the school's fate.

"If it hadn't been for the recession we would have been talking about a brave new future, but we have run out of time," said Tessa Smith, the headmistress. "Up to the last minute, just before Easter, the governors and I have been trying like mad to secure a positive outcome."

The school has notified parents and teachers that this year is its last. The school opened in 1716 and accepts both day and boarding pupils.

Wendy Ransom told the Times she and her husband saved for years because they wanted their daughter, Grace, 15, to go to St. David's, where she is now a student.

"We're not going to find anywhere else as good as this," she said. "I feel sick at the amount of money that we have spent and it could all be blown at the last hurdle, it's been a massive investment. We aren't the sort of family that can afford it easily."

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