Haddon Dene prep school buys Wellesley House boarding school

Wellesley House headmaster Gavin Franklin, Alpha Schools founder Ali Khan and Haddon Dene headmistress Joanne Parpworth

Wellesley House School has been bought by Haddon Dene Preparatory School.

Both Broadstairs schools now fall under the overarching ownership of Alpha Schools, a UK independent schools group.

The decision to entrust Wellesley House’s future to Alpha Schools was made by the Board of Governors who say they believe it is in the best interests of the school’s future.

Wellesley House, which dates back to 1866 when it was first established as Conyngham House in Ramsgate, is a fee-paying prep school for children aged between 2 and 13, offering day, weekly, flexi and full boarding,

Haddon Dene prep school has an excellent academic track record with 85% of children having moved on to grammar school this year. The school achieved a Top 60 spot in the Sunday Times Top 100 League Table based on academic performance at Key Stage Two.

According to a letter sent to parents, Wellesley House has experienced “a gradual shift away from the number of families sending children to boarding schools,” and so needs to “direct focus towards a style of independent school provision.”

The Ramsgate Road boarding school was under the Wellesley House and St Peters Court Educational Trust charity. The Trust’s annual accounts statement says uncertainties faced by the school included: “price and affordability, competition from local independent schools, the increasing competition for high-quality teaching and support staff, “ and “the possibility of VAT imposed on independent schools and removal of charity rates exemption risk.”

The last accounts lodged with Companies House said the impact of an international pandemic caused the school to discount fees due to remote learning. Income for 2020 was £1,766,417, reduced from 2019 income of £2,115,211 and the school reported a deficit in the year of £642,616. During lockdown Wellesley merged two boarding houses and sold surplus school assets.

Wellesley’s academic success includes a 100% pass rate for the Common Entrance exam at 13+ and Scholarships in academics, drama, art, sport and music to access Independent Senior Schools both locally and nationally.

The school occupies 7 acres which includes a boarding house for 40 pupils, music rooms (with recording studio), sports hall, playing fields, tennis courts, a forest school, squash courts, swimming pool, rifle range, science labs, dance studio, IT and art rooms.

The letter to Haddon Dene parents said: “Earlier this year we began speaking with Philip Woodhouse, the chairman of Wellesley House. He explained that there has been a gradual shift away from the number of families sending children to boarding schools and, to some extent, the Common Entrance examinations in Year 8.

“In short, the school recognised they needed to direct their focus towards a style of independent school provision akin to (Haddon Dene) and wondered if there was an opportunity to collaborate. After a great deal of reflection and discussion Haddon Dene agreed to purchase Wellesley House School.

“The intention is to gradually bring the schools together into an exceptional private school. In the short term the schools will continue to run as separate entities whilst building links between the two campuses.”

Bringing the schools together will start with Haddon Dene classes using fields, the swimming pool, squash courts and dance studio at Wellesley. A dedicated 50-week nursery for little ones aged 6 months to four years old will also be developed.

Alpha Schools is led by Ali Khan, founder, CEO who said: “I am delighted to welcome Wellesley House to the Alpha Group. We bring a depth of knowledge and expertise from our network of schools which will provide Wellesley House’s team with opportunities for fruitful collaboration and support.”

Wellesley House headmaster Gavin Franklin said: “This is an incredibly exciting opportunity to build on the successes of both schools and to create a flourishing and inspiring independent prep school for children up to the age of 13 in the East Kent area.”

Haddon Dene headmistress Joanne Parpworth  said: “Our entire school community is absolutely delighted about this acquisition.  By uniting, I anticipate that we will quickly be seen as the most complete independent school offering in the area.”

7 Comments

  1. And what is the commercial value of the land on which Wellesley House sits? Less green space, fewer trees, more houses producing more council tax. Shame. Prove me wrong.

    • Planning app already in for 3 houses in front of the main Wellesley House. Planning was submitted in April & awaiting decision.

  2. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Haddon Dene move to Wellesley. Day pupils seem to be the way forward.

    Alpha schools would make a nice sum on Haddon dene plot. Parking already sorted for flats, Haddon Dene’s tennis court/parking area next to the tel exchange.

  3. So what they’re saying is that their feeder school into elite boarding schools elsewhere in the southeast (Wellesley) isn’t in as much demand anymore so may as well focus all their efforts on the Kent test machine (Haddon Dene). The rich getting richer and their elbows are getting pointier.

    • On the flipside of course any parent choosing to pay for their children to be educated in the independent sector , are both helping provide jobs and are’nt using the free state education available that their taxes have contributed to.

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