HASLEMERE Prep School is to shut at the end of the summer term after more than 60 years at the heart of the town.

The chairman of governors, Allan Gardner, said falling numbers and rising costs in recent years meant Haslemere Prep, an educational charity, had become unviable. Although several options were explored to enable it to continue, in the end none would guarantee continuity for pupils and preserve the charity’s foundation.

Parents were informed at a meeting on Monday( by the governors that the school was closing. Haslemere Prep, which was founded in 1954 and currently has 123 pupils on the roll, educates boys from three to 13 and girls in its nursery. More than 30 staff will be directly affected by the closure.

Barrow Hills School in Witley, which is owned by Bridewell Royal Hospital, the charity which also runs King Edward’s Witley, has stepped in to offer places to all Haslemere Prep’s pupils, including a free uniform exchange and transport from Haslemere.

Headmaster Rob Smith said: “We are very sad at the news that this lovely school with its family atmosphere is closing. My priority, now the announcement has been made is to ensure each pupil has a well-managed move to their next school that would ideally share our aims and ethos.

“I am keen to see the staff relocated to other jobs too, they have produced results of the highest quality from the boys. The community is losing a valuable asset that will remain in the memories of many families.”

Mr Gardner, who sent both his sons to the school, added: “This has not been an easy decision for the Board and we have looked at various options to enable the school to continue, but the economic challenges over recent years have meant that the options are not available.”

The school wanted to announce the news before the Easter break to allow enough time for parents to make plans for where they would they move the boys to next. It is also planning to sell its assets which will be held in a trust fund to support the current pupils with their relocation and provide bursary funds in future years.”