A private school is to close after negotiations to save it failed.

Hurstpierpoint College officials said the offer for them to take on St Aubyns made by the Cothill Educational Trust was rejected unanimously by the college’s governors following talks last week.

The college said the two parties were so far apart in their positions that renegotiating the deal was not possible.

In an announcement made to parents last night, Cothill announced the 118-year-old prep school will now close this summer and about 100 of the remaining pupils will need to find new schools for the next academic year.

In February, the school’s current managers said it would close in the summer because of falling student numbers and an inability to recruit a new head.

The trust only took over the school in March of last year.

Hurstpierpoint College head Tim Manly said the college would have been happy to acquire the school on terms not dissimilar to those with which the Cothill Trust secured St Aubyns a year earlier.

It is claimed that the trust were seeking a financial agreement of more than twice the previous deal while leasing the site and its buildings to Hurstpierpoint College.

The Argus understands the trust were seeking £1 million to recover their investment in taking on St Aubyns’ debt last year and to cover losses incurred in running the school.

Mr Manly said: “Had Hurstpier- point College been able to acquire the school on terms not dissimilar to those with which the Cothill Trust secured St Aubyns exactly twelve months ago, then I believe that a St Aubyns/Hurst partnership would have provided an excellent and mutually beneficial arrangement for both communities.

“However, the terms and conditions of Cothill’s proposals were such that the college governors unanimously rejected them and regretfully concluded that further negotiation would not be in the best interests of either St Aubyns or of Hurstpierpoint College.”

In a letter to parents, Cothill principal Adrian Richardson said the trust had considered several options to keep the school open but felt the time had come to make a final decision to end weeks of uncertainty.

He added: “The trustees believe that the CET property at St Aubyns can be put to better use for the advancement of education, either by using the site for an educational purpose other than an independent preparatory school or by realising the assets and using the funds to advance education by developing other successful schools within the group or providing bursaries. “