Cape Town - 140115 - Students arriving at the Simon Estes Music High School this morning were told that the school is closed. They say they received no prior notification that school would be closed. Reporter: Dylan Oktober Picture: David Ritchie

Cape Town - The school year got off to a rough start for pupils at the Simon Estes Music School in Lansdowne when they arrived to discover the school had been closed.

The private school’s trustees cited corruption and lack of funding as reasons for the closure. Now pupils face the year with no school to go to.

Rumours of the trustees’ decision circulated on Monday and appeared on Facebook, but the school’s administration failed to inform pupils.

On Wednesday, parents and pupils were shocked when the principal, George Damon, confirmed this to be true. He described the closure as “very heartbreaking”.

“Throughout the year, we have had financial struggles. We even asked teachers to work for free (for three months), but of course they need to put food on the table. We’re still hoping they won’t desert the learners.”

One pupil said last year’s matric pass rate was 30.6 percent.

“What are we supposed to do as matrics? They should have notified us beforehand so we could make other plans,” said Nomakhwezi Mata. “We want to learn, we want to study.”

Pupils and a parent said there had been poor administration over the years, and not a single parent meeting had been held last year.

Xhosa teacher Thozama Yawa, right, said: “As educators we only heard about this on Monday and we were shocked at the discovery. Little did we know our December salary was going to be our last… ”

The closure was confirmed by Paddy Attwell, the Western Cape Education Department’s spokesman, who said: “The trustees and owners of Simon Estes, an independent school, have written to the Western Cape Education Department indicating they have resolved to close the school with immediate effect.”

The department had procedures to deal with situations like this.

“It was a real shock,” said Michael Ndumndum, father of a pupil going into Grade 10.

Ndumndum is part of a newly elected interim committee formed by the parents who said they had negotiated for the school to open as usual today until a clear solution could be found.

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Cape Argus