Ex-pupils of a school that is set to close in Croydon have expressed their “shock and sadness” to hear the “devastating” news, that “one of the most diverse independent girl’s schools” will be shut down.

A letter signed by over 200 members of The Old Palace Girls Alumni Network was sent to the John Whitgift Foundation demanding answers after it was announced that The Old Palace of John Whitgift School will close for good in 2025.

The letter described the school as “one of the last remaining jewels in Croydon” and as a “historic gem” bringing together “a community of girls from all backgrounds”.

They go on to say that “the tone of the letter was deeply unsatisfactory” and left them with many questions.

One of their main concerns was that while the girl’s school is being closed, the equivalent for boys remains open.

They also wanted to know why alumnus of the school were not approached for help to keep their beloved school open.

The closure announcement “troubled” this alumni network and they have put their questions and concerns to the John Whitgift Foundation with the hope of seeing some answers.

A spokesperson for the alumni network said: “We believe there are significant questions that the Foundation should answer which were not covered in the letter published.

“Why is it that Old Palace girls are being penalised while both Whitgift and Trinity (boys’ schools) – continue?

“What do you mean by future ‘demographic changes’ and what do you intend the site be used for?

“Did the Trust approach anyone to help to avoid closure?

“Why weren’t the alumni informed and approached for support?

“What are the factors which have led to the mismanagement of finances over years?

“Was this a unanimous decision by the Governing Board and what is the make-up and gender split of the Board who came to this decision?

“We appreciate this will not have been an easy decision for you to reach, but the effect of this decision will be far reaching and impact Croydon and the future of many young girls for generations.

“You have taken a decision to close what is potentially one of the most diverse girls’ independent schools in the country which has achieved a 79% ethnic minority admissions rate.”

A John Whitgift Foundation spokesperson said: “Our Old Palace alumnae are a hugely valuable part of our community and we were desperately sorry to have had to share this news with them. 

“The truth is that it is Old Palace which has been struggling financially and not the Foundation’s other schools, and having explored all possible options the Foundation very reluctantly came to the view that it had no option other than to announce its intention to close Old Palace. 

“A consultation with alumnae before the announcement would not have been appropriate given the large number of sensitivities involved including employment issues and the likely concern and confusion that highlighting an uncertain future for the school would have caused in our community. 

“In terms of demographic changes, it is now well-known that the country’s birth rate is falling and that this is already being seen in an ageing demographic in Croydon, with a 10% fall in the number of residents under the age of 4 between the two most recent censuses. 

“Governing Bodies have to have regard to current and future population trends because they shed light on how demand for places will rise or fall in the coming years, something that is particularly the case in day schools. 

“On its own this may not have been decisive but unfortunately it was just one factor among several.”