An independent school which faced closure in 2013 has been purchased by the principal and vice principal couple who steered it back to success, making it the fastest growing independent school in the UK, according to the Independent Schools Association (ISA).
After six years of leadership, Paul Norton, principal, and Karen Norton, vice principal, have successfully completed a management buyout of the Kings Monkton School in Cardiff from Heathfield Independent Schools, run by entrepreneur Andrew McCarthy.
McCarthy took over the school in 2013 when it was struggling, and over the last six years Heathfield Independent Schools has invested £2.5m in modernising and improving the environment and facilities. This investment will continue with Kings Monkton’s new owners, who are investing £300,000 before October in new school buses, to allow for pupils to be collected from as far afield as Merthyr Tydfil, Sully and Newport, and new high-tech classrooms. A further investment of £100,000 over the summer will see a new a state-of-the-art sixth form centre built on the school site.
Paul Norton, who joined as principal in 2013 after more than 20 years working in the state system, has been long affiliated with Kings Monkton – his father studied at the school in 1953 and his son, Will, is a current pupil.
Karen Norton was appointed as vice principal in 2015 also following 20 years working in the state sector and for Welsh Government, where she specialised in providing strategic guidance and training for headteachers and support staff.
Kings Monkton School has gone from strength to strength under the direction of Mr and Mrs Norton, growing from 90 pupils to its current 328 pupils and achieving a record high of 94% A* – C grades in five or more GCSE subjects last year. Following the buyout from its previous owners, the principal and vice principal have pledged to continue offering the highest standards of education resulting in high levels of achievement, and providing the same inclusive, happy learning environment where pupils learn to be the best they can be.
Mr Norton said:
“It has been a privilege to lead Kings Monkton School, one of the oldest independent schools in Wales, for the past six years and bring it back to its former glory. Our pupils have progressed to work with charities around the world, attend top universities, and become doctors. We believe in their potential to flourish inside and outside of the classroom”.
“Our vision for Kings Monkton remains as we move the school into a new future. Karen and I highly value the importance of providing an inclusive education that holistically caters for the needs of every child and develops well rounded, happy adults. We are wholeheartedly committed to ensuring the success of Kings Monkton School and all its pupils. To become its owners is testament to that, and one of our proudest ever moments.”
The teaching staff at Kings Monkton will remain and have been assured that there will be no changes to their contracts or roles within the school.
Andrew McCarthy, managing director of Garrison Barclay Estates, the school’s previous owner, said:
“I’m really proud of what we have achieved at Kings Monkton School over the last six years. We have invested heavily in the building, the offering and the team and this is reflected in the results the school is now achieving. I’m delighted to be handing the reins over to Paul and Karen, who have been doing an exceptional job in leading the school. I know it is in safe hands and it’s a good time for me to exit. I look forward to seeing the school continue on this upward trajectory.”
McCarthy’s sale of Kings Monkton signals his exit from the education sector, following his sale of Orbis Education & Care in 2017. He plans to focus his attentions on his property investment and development company, Garrison Barclay Estates. The business was established in 1995 and specialises in the acquisition and development of commercial, industrial, residential and retail projects across Wales and the South West of England.
“We have a lot going on at Garrison Barclay Estates including the redevelopment of Chartist Tower and the former Royal Mail sorting office in Newport, along with other office, industrial and residential ventures. My exit from Kings Monkton School means I can give Garrison Barclay Estates my full attention as we look to grow our portfolio in Wales and the South West.”
Mr Norton added:
“Karen and I are grateful to Andrew for the support and investment he has given the school since 2013. His commitment and belief played an integral role in allowing us to achieve success in such a short period of time. Now it’s our time to lead our fabulous team of teachers and staff towards a future for everyone associated with Kings Monkton School to be proud of.”
Kings Monkton educates children and young people from the age of three to 18, with no more than 18 pupils per class. The school is non-selective and accepts visits from parents and prospective students all year round. In 2020, Kings Monkton will celebrate its 150th anniversary.
For more information on Kings Monkton School, visit www.kingsmonkton.org.uk or call 029 2048 2854.