Schools hope merger 'opens a new chapter' in bid to secure future

King's Ely announce merger with Fairstead House

King's Ely have announced a merger with Fairstead House in Suffolk. Inset: Michael Radford, acting head at Fairstead House. - Credit: King's Ely/Fairstead House

School chiefs believe a merger between two independent schools “opens a new chapter” in a bid to secure their futures. 

King’s Ely’s governing body have merged with Fairstead House, an independent nursery, pre-preparatory and preparatory school for children aged 0 to 11-years-old based in Newmarket. 

The move aims to strengthen security in both schools’ education offering and increase opportunities for pupils amid rising costs and regulatory demands across independent schools. 

David Day, chair of governors at King’s Ely, said: “I am delighted that Fairstead House will be joining the King’s Ely family of schools.   

“This move opens a new chapter in both our schools’ histories and will give many opportunities for collaboration while strengthening independent education in our region.” 

John Attwater principal at King's Ely

John Attwater, principal at King's Ely, will take up a position on Fairstead House's senior leadership team as part of the merger. - Credit: King's Ely

Talks towards a merger were initiated by King’s Ely in April last year as part of its plan to partner with another local pre-preparatory and preparatory school. 

Under the agreement, both schools will come under the oversight of a single governing body, which will include two governors from Fairstead House. 

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Each school will also retain its identity, name, uniform, badge and autonomy. 

Nicholas Longford, chair of governors at Fairstead House, said: “The merger will allow both schools to continue to grow and prosper, which will in turn create greater scale and additional, beneficial opportunities going forward.   

“The similarity in ethos and educational philosophy of our schools and the relative proximity of their sites makes the merger a natural, obvious and achievable one.” 

Michael Radford acting head at Fairstead House

Michael Radford, acting head at Fairstead House, will take up a position on King's Ely's senior leadership team as part of the merger. - Credit: Fairstead House

Michael Radford, acting head at Fairstead House, will take up a position on the senior leadership team at King’s Ely and vice versa for John Attwater, principal at King’s Ely. 

By merging, Mr Longford believes the long-term future for both schools will be secured. 

“It opens a new chapter in our history,” he added.  

“This is to secure the long-term future of our unique school as part of a growing, financially secure foundation, whose ethos and educational philosophy match those of Fairstead House.” 

Founded in 1950, Fairstead House consists of a nursery for children aged three months to four-years-old and the main school for pupils aged four to 11 years-old. 

It was rated ‘good’ in all areas in its latest inspection by the Independent Schools Inspectorate in 2020.