AN independent school has closed suddenly.

Rivington Park shut its gates for the final time leaving parents of 35 children to find them alternative places.

The headteacher of the school, Michael Ruaux, said he was “saddened” to have made the “difficult decision “ to shut the school but stressed he had worked with parents to help them to find new school places for their children.

Mr Ruaux said the decision to close the school on December 12 was a combination of reasons including personal issues that had come to light recently and because the school could not be sold as a going concern to new owners.

He said: “Concerns have come to light regarding my family and I need to spend more time with my wife and children.

“Unfortunately I had to make the difficult decision to close the school. Once it was made parents were informed.

“They were told before the Christmas holidays so arrangements could be made for them to secure places at other schools.

“Some parents have paid in advanced for next term, but when a limited company closes the money cannot be refunded, but I have negotiated with other fee paying schools to waive a term's fees and provide uniforms for free.

"Of course it is up to the parents if they want to take up the offers.

“I have also worked with my staff to help find them alternative employment.

“We had 35 pupils and seven staff, the business was not saleable we were running day to day, and I was not being paid a salary.

"We had to make a significant investment in the school but the numbers of pupils have not grown significantly, and it was not sustainable.”

Mr Ruaux, who lives in Bolton with his family, said that in light of family issues he could not run the school and manage the business side, including chasing up fees from parents.

In 2009 parents stepped in to save the school which fell into financial difficulty – mainly due to unpaid fees.

Since then the school has been judged as good with outstanding features by Ofsted, the Government’s education watchdog.

Mr Ruaux said: “The school was performing well but it was not growing and I had to make the decision and once it was made parents were informed so they had time to find new places for the start of the term after the holidays.

“It was a difficult decision, but my family have to come first, and our lifestyle had to change. I don’t think there was anything more I could have done to help parents find other places for their children.”

Cllr Kevin McKeon, Bolton Council’s cabinet member for schools, said any of the pupils affected by the closure can apply to join a Bolton school in the same manner as everyone else.

He said: “I believe we have had one or two applications from family, but not many.

“We understand the stress the parents must feel at the closure of the school. I’m sure any school will be very sympathetic to the understandable distress children might have about leaving Rivington.”

The school, on the outskirts of Horwich, was established in 2004.

It taught children from three years-old to 16-years with fees starting from £5,406 to £7,725 per term.