A SOUTHAMPTON school which has taught pupils for almost a century has closed permanently.

Faced with a dire financial situation St Mary's Independent School has been "unable to continue" operating.

With "profound sadness and regret" the school in Bitterne Park closed its doors on Friday.

It was placed into administration on May 19 by insolvency firm Begbies Traynor.

This was just months after being slammed by education watchdog Ofsted and then forced to close over coronavirus fears.

With annual fees between £8,085 and £10,506, there are 242 students aged between three-years-old and 16-years-old - who the administrators say they are helping find new schools.

A letter to parents written by Brother Francis Patterson representing the governing body said: "We share your sadness that the school has not found a way to secure its future.

"We feel especially saddened and concerned for our pupils who must now look to alternative schools to continue their education.

"While we all share a deep sadness that this chapter is closing, we take heart from the knowledge that our young people will not forget the lessons they have learned and the values we have taught them.

"We thank you as parents for the incredible support that you have given the school over the years it has been our privilege to serve you."

However, governors say they remain firmly committed to the possibility of establishing a new company which would offer a nursery and prep school.

Meanwhile, the administrators report to have reviewed the school's position and have concluded that due to financial circumstances it must close.

However, they have assured parents that Y10 and Y11 pupils will be able to sit their looming GCSE exams.

As previously reported, children at St Mary's had complained about bullying and feeling “disheartened”.

The school was slammed in a damning inspection and rated as ‘Inadequate’ by education watchdog Ofsted.

However, the school hit back saying it was on an “exciting journey of development”, claiming the inspection process was flawed and it did not accept many of the inspectors’ findings.

St Mary’s later raised a formal complaint after inspectors visited its Midanbury Lane grounds between December 3 and December 5 last year.

The overall effectiveness of the school was rated as ‘Inadequate', as was the leadership and management under headteacher Claire Charlemagne.