Stonar, the Wiltshire independent boarding and day school renowned for its equestrian excellence, is to become part of a European schools group.
Contracts have been exchanged for the transfer of ownership of the school, at Cottles Park, Atworth near Melksham, to NACE Educational Services Ltd, subsidiary of a successful international education group with head offices in Madrid, Spain.
NACE (Nuevo Agora Centros Educativos) was established in Spain some 40 years ago. It already operates seven schools in Spain and four in France (under the name EIB – www.eibparis.fr) with a total of more than 7,000 pupils and more than 1,000 staff, and is currently negotiating expansion into Switzerland, Germany and the Indian subcontinent. Stonar is set to become the flagship school for the group in the UK, as further additions to the group are contemplated.
Stonar’s Governors are convinced that the change of ownership offers the immediate prospect of substantial investment and development whilst retaining the ethos and educational philosophy of the school. Schools in membership of the NACE group are encouraged to flourish in their current areas of expertise whilst benefitting from administrative, financial and marketing support.
The Head and senior staff will continue to lead the school and will benefit from the advantages of partnership with a like-minded group of international schools. It has been agreed that a number of the current Stonar Governors will be involved in voluntary consultative roles with NACE UK in coming months.
Looking further ahead, NACE will continue to develop Stonar. This will include opportunities for boys to be admitted to the Senior School. This change would not take place before the 2014/15 academic year and would start with the admission of boys to key entry years only, so there would be minimal effect on current pupils in the Senior School.
The transfer follows many months of discussion and negotiation between Stonar’s Governors and NACE to ensure that there will be a smooth transition. The Chairman of Governors and the Head undertook a factfinding visit to NACE’s operations in three of its thriving schools in Barcelona and the one in Palma, Mallorca.
Tim Holgate, Chairman of Stonar’s Governors, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for Stonar to become part of a truly European group of schools. We have worked hard to achieve this development and are delighted to have secured Stonar’s future in this way. Stonar shares similar values with NACE schools, and a common commitment to enable pupils to make the very best of their talents.”
Serafín González, President of NACE, said: “We are very pleased that Stonar is to be the first of our schools in the United Kingdom. In the course of our dealings with the governors, we have discovered a great deal of common ground in the ambitions we have for our young people and the educational opportunities we want to offer them.