The next chapter in the life of Rayners, the former site of Penn School continues to be unclear although it is very likely that all the old buildings will now be protected.
The school went into administration in May 2015 and closed in July that year. The Government bought the 19 acre site in 2016 for £11m with the intention of creating a new free school.
In early 2020 Bucks Council finally confirmed it has no requirement for a new school on the site and so the most likely outcome is that the Department for Education will put the property up for sale.
In the meantime a local proposal has been submitted to Historic England suggesting that the grand Victorian house, known as Rayners, with its outbuildings and grounds, should have listed status since it has a series of unique architectural features, and associations with Queen Victoria and Disraeli. A decision in principle to approve this has been made and an announcement to this effect is expected in the next few months.
So, whatever the site is eventually used for, we can be confident that the original buildings will be safe from the bulldozers.
Stirrings in the undergrowth …. a Penn School update
Although progress continues to be glacial, there are reasons to be cheerful about the future for the Penn School site as the Rayners School Education Trust (RSET) comes out of administration and Bucks County Council develops a vision for the future use of the site.
Taking the RSET point first, on January 8th there was an item on Three Counties Radio about what has happened to the money paid by the DfE to RSET for the Penn School site. It turns out that, now the administration process is complete and all the bills have been settled, there is just over £3m remaining which the Trustees will now have to decide what to do with. As a charity they are obliged to spend the money in accordance with their charitable objects which are “to advance the education and relief of people (in particular children and young adults) who suffer communication difficulties associated with hearing impairment, language impairment and autism”.
On the second point, Bucks CC is believed to be interested in using the Penn School site as a way of responding to a growing special educational need and to help mitigate the cost of pupils being educated out-of-county. Meetings have been taking place involving key stakeholder groups – specialist providers, parents and representatives from the local community – to shape how the site could be used.
Hopefully things are on the move at last – stay tuned.
Penn School, Village Voice Article – Aug/Sept Edition
Penn School – two years and counting ……
It is now nearly two years since Penn School closed and there is still no real progress to report.
Penn School, Village Voice – June/July Edition:
Still no news
The Penn School Working Group has been keeping close tabs on the three applications to open a free school on the former Penn School site.
Penn School, Village Voice Article – April/May Edition
Penn School Site – The Mist Is Beginning To Clear
To remind you of the story so far ….. in March 2016 the Education Funding Agency (EFA), which is part of the Department for Education, purchased the Penn School site as the proposed location for a new free school.
Penn School – Further Work Behind The Scenes
Meeting key people and drawing attention to the fundamental issues
Over the course of the past four months the Working Group has met with senior representatives of the Education Funding Agency and the Regional Schools Commissioner as well as our County Councillors and local MPs. We have also met with Bucks CC to raise concerns about their Special Education Needs strategy as well as their forecasts for future secondary school places.
This article will appear in Village Voice in March 2017 and provides further background on these developments.
A 1000 Pupil Secondary School – What Do You Think?
Important update for residents of Penn & Tylers Green
The Penn School Working Group continue to draw the attention of local residents to the preference that Bucks CC has expressed to use the former Penn School site for a future large secondary free school for 1000 pupils.
This article, published in Village Voice in December 2016, provides a further update on the work of the Group as it tries to influence the key people who are making decisions that will fundamentally impact the quality of life for everyone living in Penn & Tylers Green.
Penn School Update – Working Group Formed
Establishing a dialogue with key stakeholders
In the late summer of 2016 a small Working Group was formed comprising some Directors of the P&TGRS and two local residents with educational background and interests.
The Group was established to bring influence to bear on key contacts including senior staff in the Educational Funding Agency, the Regional School Commissioner, the Trustees of the Rayners School Educational Trust, our Parish Councils, our County Councillors, our local MPs and the Officers working for Children’s Services at Bucks CC.
The article is published here:
Bucks CC Advert Re. A Secondary Free School In Penn
September 2016 deadline set for secondary free school applications
This document was sent to all secondary schools in the Local Authority area on 14th July, 2016 encouraging them to consider applying to run a new secondary free school on the site of the former Penn School.
In this advert Buckinghamshire County Council claims that a new school is needed to meet a rising demand for secondary school places and that the new school needs to be opened by September 2018.
We now know that the assertions made about a future need for additional secondary school places are questionable.
For further details of the notice follow the link here…….BCC Bulletin Penn School – 14th July
P&TGRS Letter To The Education Funding Agency
Determining the future for the site of the former Penn School
The Education Funding Agency purchased the Penn School site in March 2016 as the location for a future Free School. The New Local Plan for Wycombe District, which was published in June 2016, included an unexpected proposal on page 206 in Appendix F for a new 5 or 6 form-entry secondary school on the site of the former Penn School.
The P&TGRS team was mobilized and expressed grave concerns that the proposed school might be expected to support 1000 to 1200+ pupils – more than ten times the previous number of pupils.
Apart from the Planning constraints, the huge increase in the volume of traffic entering and leaving the village to transport children to and from the school would have serious Highways implications having an unprecedented impact on the villages and the Conservation Area.
This is the letter from the P&TGRS the EFA expressing serious concern about the future use of the site.
Redeveloping The Penn School Site – Planning Restrictions
The Planning restrictions on the future of the site are considerable
In December 2015, in order to support the process of selling the site, the Planning department of Wycombe District Council produced a summary of the Planning considerations relating to this 19-acre site stating “it will be important to retain the older historic buildings including garden structures, specimen trees, railings and boundary walls…. physical subdivision of the site would not be encouraged…. and complete redevelopment of the site would be unacceptable”.
This article contains the full, four page Planning framework and draws attention to the importance of consulting with Highways because of the limited access to the site.
History Of Penn School & The Rayners Estate
Penn School site – a glimpse behind the gate
In his book “Mansions and mud houses – the story of Penn & Tylers Green” (ISBN 978-0-9555798) Miles Green noted that Penn School (Rayners) was built in 1847 by Philip Rose (1816-1883), a solicitor from a local Wycombe family, many of them Mayors.
The main building was its owner’s pride and joy having elaborate architecture and fine detailed brickwork. The estate was sold to the London County Council and became a school for deaf children in 1921. Since the closure of Penn School in 2015 and its subsequent sale to the Education Funding Agency in early 2016, the estate has been locked up and is closed from public view.
These two pages provide a fascinating glimpse behind the gate by giving a brief summary of the history of the estate and it includes some fascinating photographs.
Penn School Closes ……
After a 94-year association with Penn & Tylers Green, Penn School closes
For 14 years from July 2001 Penn School was run as an independent educational trust. However, its fortunes deteriorated considerably following a poor Ofsted inspection in 2013 and by July 2015 the school was not financially viable. It was immediately placed in administration and in September 2015, Deloittes, the school’s administrators announced they had been unable to sell the school as a going concern.
This article is from the Village Voice magazine from October 2015 and charts the educational history of Penn School.
Site of Penn School under threat again
Residents might have noted that the Penn & Tylers Green Residents Society response to the WDC Draft Local Plan included the strong expression of concern below about a very large secondary school proposed for the Rayners site:
‘ Penn School – A secondary school with 6 forms in each year, i.e. over 40 forms, and over 1200 pupils (Appx F, p.206). This an appalling proposal on which there is no information and has been no discussion. A school of that size would bring up to 1,260 pupils. Given that most of those students will be from some distance, and that school bus transport is a thing of the past, the traffic implications are ghastly and, would be much more disruptive to the heart of the Penn/Tyler’s Green village than even the Gomm Valley development. The roads are totally unsuitable, and the entrance itself completely inadequate.’
the full briefing paper is available to read here:webv-penn-school-briefing-28-8-16
PTGRS is represented on the Working Group so will regularly update residents on this website when developments occur.