AN independent school near Malvern has expressed its disappointment after a planned merger fell through.

The Downs School was responding after plans to merge it with the nearby Elms School in Colwall were abandoned by the Elms earlier this week.

Despite the merger collapsing, The Downs said it was continuing to join the Malvern College group regardless.

Under the controversial plans, the Downs and Elms would have merged and been consolidated on the site of the Elms.

The new school, Elmsdown, would have come under the umbrella of Malvern College.

However, following a vote by Elms governors this week, the merger will no longer be going ahead.

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A spokesperson for the Downs said: "Over the last two months we have completed the final stages of due diligence.

"Whilst we are obviously disappointed that the board of governors of the Elms has reached the decision not to proceed with resultant proposals, we fully respect their decision. 

"From the outset, our priority has been the provision of outstanding prep school education in the area, and we look forward to continuing to invest in the Downs Malvern, with the aim of ensuring it continues to provide the best possible opportunities for our pupils and their families.

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"The Downs Malvern will proceed with its merger into the umbrella charity of Malvern College, and will continue to prepare children for the college and other leading senior schools across the country, as it always has."

The Elmsdown plans proved controversial, with parents from both schools hitting out at them.

Parents from the Downs were upset at a lack of consultation over the plans, while parents from the Elms wanted to keep their school as it has been for 400 years.

After a Parents Working Group from the Elms submitted a new business plan for its future, governors unanimously voted to adopt the plan and abandon the merger.

Originally the move was announced via a letter to parents on April 19, which confirmed the move would take place from September 2023.