The future of an independent school threatened with closure is set to be decided within a matter of days.
Parents of pupils at St Aubyns in Rottingdean are “optimistic” that an agreement is set to be reached with Hurstpierpoint College to take over the running of the school before summer term starts next week.
Current backers the Cothill Eductional Trust, who announced in February that the school was set to close this summer, have been in negotiations with Hurstpierpoint governors over the last week.
It is understood that the trust has made a proposal to the college and has requested an urgent response or counter proposal to clear the uncertainty hanging over the school.
Redundancy procedures have started this week for staff in order to give teachers statutory 12 week notice, but this could be withdrawn if Hurstpierpoint College reach an agreement.
No details of the agreement have been released, but it is understood that the school would remain independent and non-exclusive.
One parent described the link as similar to the arrangement between St Andrew’s and Eastbourne College.
The trust have said that if an agreement is not reached with Hurstpierpoint, the school will close this summer, but parents believe they could step in if talks fail.
They have formed an educational trust and gathered a war chest of more than £2 million from wealthy alumni and have the option of selling a piece of land for a substantial seven-figure sum.
Parents are optimistic that the talks will yield a positive impact stating that the trust’s charitable status means they are obliged to make Hurstpierpoint a reasonable offer as part of their duty of care to the students’ education.
One parent said: “Cotehill Trust must be a reasonable one if the trust are properly discharging their duties.”
Another parent said: “It’s a lightning bolt away from where we were five weeks ago and we as a group of parents are very hopeful this can be resolved.”
Tim Verdon, bursar at the Cothill Trust, said: “Our trustees have met and agreed to put a specific proposal to Hurstpierpoint College, which if they accept they will take over St Aubyns.
“Trustees have been in negotiations with Hurstpierpoint governors and asked them to respond as a quickly as they can so the current uncertainty can be resolved.”