AN INDEPENDENT Christian school in Basingstoke has announced it will close at the end of the next academic year because of “increasing financial pressure”.

Parents of The King’s School, in Sarum Hill, Basingstoke, were shocked to discover at a meeting last Monday evening that the school will shut its doors in 2017, after more than 35 years in the town.

Headteacher Russ Beese described Monday as “a sad day for the entire school community” after the decision was announced to parents at the evening meeting.

The 162 pupils on roll, from Reception to Year 11, will now have to find another school to attend to continue their education.

Since the start of the academic year in September 2015, pupil numbers have fallen from 169.

The school was founded in 1981 by members of Basingstoke Community Church when it opened as a cooperative of church members and parents.

It later widened its intake to all children whose parents wanted an affordable private education with a Christian ethos.

A statement from the school said: “In recent years the school has come under increasing financial pressure. It has become clear that the model, which aimed at making private education accessible to as many pupils as possible and which worked well in the earlier years, is now unsustainable.”

Pupils pay annual fees of between £2,880 and £5,280 to attend the school, and there is a scholarship fund administered by the trustees to support admission in cases of financial hardship.

Last year, the school was told to improve by Ofsted, with all areas graded as “requires improvement”.

It has also seen a fall in its GCSE results over the last four years, with 82 per cent of pupils achieving five GCSEs between A* and C, including English and maths in 2012, compared to 63 per cent in both 2014 and 2015.

Mr Beese told The Gazette: “We are now making every effort to ensure that our pupils and staff are able to make the difficult transition to new schools with as little disruption as possible.”

Phil Norris, team leader of Basingstoke Community Churches, added: “We make this announcement with a heavy heart.”

Councillor Peter Edgar, executive member for education, said: “Hampshire County Council has heard today about the potential closure of The King's School, an independent school in Basingstoke, in July 2017.

"The school has confirmed the current number of pupils attending the school, some of whom may decide to apply for  places at other local schools over the coming months.

"The Council will support all parents in identifying a Hampshire school with spaces available. Parents are encouraged to refer to advice on Hantsweb: or alternatively can telephone: 0300 555 1377.”