A PRIVATE school suffering financial problems will close for good this summer unless a buyer is found.

Now anxious parents are scrabbling to find school places for their children from September.

St Thomas Garnet’s in Bournemouth currently has around 60 pupils and parents were told about the problems in an email last week which came “out of the blue.”

It said: “Like many small schools nationwide, the recent reduction in pupil numbers has placed the financial viability of the school at risk and the Board of Trustees has been working hard to secure the future of the school. We have successfully secured funding which should be sufficient to continue to operate until the end of the Summer term 2020 and will afford us time to explore all available options for continuation thereafter.”

Parents were then invited to a meeting where they said they were told the school, in Parkwood Road, Boscombe, will close unless someone steps forward to buy it.

Cara Ashford, who has an eight-year-old daughter in Year 3, said: “All the schools in this area are full, which is why most of us put our children into private education in the first place. Waiting lists in all year groups are really high so it’s going to be difficult to find schools which are not several miles away from where most of us live.”

Fees at the school range from £1,907 per term in Reception to £2,665 per term in Year 6, making them some of the cheapest independent school fees in the area. Cara added: “Most of the other private schools are a lot more expensive so many of the parents won’t be able to make that leap."

The school opened in 1979 and is run by an independent charitable trust. Its kindergarten opened in 1993.

A spokesman for the school said: “St Thomas Garnet’s School may be forced to close in July at the end of this academic year unless a purchaser can be found. The Board of Trustees have informed staff and parents of the news in meetings and in writing and will continue to keep them updated on any developments.”

It said an action group has been formed by parents to explore ways of saving the school.

The spokesman added: “The school has seen a reduction in pupil numbers due to increased competition from both local state and private schools, reflecting difficulties experienced by many schools in recent years.

“The Trustees did try to secure sufficient funding to implement a turnaround plan but this level of funding was not available. They did secure short-term funding which, based upon current pupil numbers and related income, will enable it to continue to operate until the end of the summer term.

“At the same time the Trustees initiated an active and ongoing sales process seeking a purchaser for the School capable of securing its long-term future. This search is ongoing.

“The Trustees will continue to do all in their power to prevent closure and are exploring all opportunities in the hope of securing a future for the school.”