Sunnymede School

Founded in 1960, Sunnymede private school was the last remaining independent school in the coastal town of Southport when its doors closed at the end of term in 2010 after celebrating its 50th anniversary “Due to the combination of falling numbers of pupils joining the school, increasing costs and the sheer amount of red tape and paperwork from the overbearing interference of the governments education policies”. Day pupils aged from 3-11 paid £5100 per term, and the school could cater for 141 pupils at full capacity.

The much loved headmaster was Mr Simon Pattinson who lived in the out-house next to the school on a permanent basis, and had kept the school running after five decades of family ownership. Simon’s father Alan and his wife Katy began Sunnymede’s educational odyssey in 1960 when they arrived from Cambridge with high ambitions of developing every possible facet of the school. Within a decade they had moved from Grosvenor Road to a late Georgian Manor close to the coast, and with a number of local independent schools operating locally at the time, competition was strong. Despite this, the business flourished, and the number of pupils on the roll grew rapidly.

After celebrating the school's 50th birthday, just six months before the schools eventual closure, the headmaster Simon Pattinson wrote: “This family school has literally been my life’s work, and it is to the testament of pupils, past and present, our wonderful teachers and the constant support from many parents and friends that have allowed us to reach this fabulous milestone.” Until the boundary changes of the early 70s the school was part of the Lancashire county education board, but then ended up in Merseyside to the dismay of some of the ‘middle class’ children’s parents, leading to what some say was the beginning of it’s initial demise. The further reason for the downfall of Sunnymede is due on one hand to a failing rollover in its last 12 to 18 months of operation, along with an increase in expenditure created by the various regulations and legislations imposed by the government.

An article in the Southport local went on to write ‘Whilst many schools throughout the UK have failed to survive the harsh reality of difficult economic climates and dropping numbers of pupils, the strength of Sunnymede, with its exacting standards and major focus on individual child development, has often seen it outperform larger schools in personal achievement.’ The article, showcasing an open day hosted by the school on Saturday 24th April 2010 carried the slogan ‘The sooner your child starts, the sooner they can really enjoy learning!’ – sadly, and somewhat ironically, no children were to attend the school the following year and its doors were closed forever. The entire site is now part of a development for modern, (un)affordable new housing.

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