Here we answer some frequently asked questions about the future of Pestalozzi and how we're making sure the charity is fit for the future.
Q: I have heard that Pestalozzi is closing down. Why is this?
A: First of all I am delighted to tell you that Pestalozzi is not closing down! We have sold the Pestalozzi estate in Sedlescombe to raise the money to ensure that we can continue to provide scholarships to young people from some of the world’s poorest communities for many years to come.
Q: Why couldn’t you just run more and bigger events on the estate or get funding from Comic Relief or Children in Need? Those TV programmes seem to raise tens of millions every year and Pestalozzi would be perfect for them. They wouldn’t have to travel all over the world to see how their money was spent they could just come to Sussex!
A: To answer the first part of this question, although the site is perfect for hosting music festivals, country shows and so on, since 2012 we have had to comply with a Noise Abatement Order. This prevents us from holding events that include electronically amplified sound.
With regard to Comic Relief and Children in Need, we would be delighted if we qualified for their support. Sadly because we are a Sussex-based charity, delivering our programmes in the UK to international beneficiaries we do not meet their criteria and cannot apply for funding under either the international or domestic programmes.
Q: But if you have sold the estate what is going to happen to the students?
A: In early 2018 Pestalozzi’s Board of Trustees agreed that the students who were then living in the Pestalozzi Village would be the last ones to be resident in Sedlescombe. This was a difficult decision to make but economic circumstances meant that we needed to find a new and much more cost effective way of running the scholarship programme. As a result the young people who are currently in their second year with us are the last cohort who will live in the Pestalozzi Village. When the students have finished their A-Level examinations in June 2019 and then returned to their home countries we will move off the site.
Q: There is a rumour that the site has been sold for development. Is that true?
A: No, it is not true. PGL Limited, the specialist in outdoor education for young people, has bought the site to allow for expansion of their programmes in the UK. The sale of the site to PGL completed in April 2019 and we are leasing the site back from them until the beginning of September 2019 to enable the current students to complete their A-Level courses at Claremont School.
Q: If you are still going to be running a scholarship programme where will the students live when you leave the Pestalozzi Village?
The Pestalozzi scholarship programme is indeed going to continue. We have entered a partnership with United World Colleges and our first cohort of students will be starting a two-year International Baccalaureate Diploma programme in September 2019 at Atlantic College in the Vale of Glamorgan. Atlantic College is a residential facility so all new Pestalozzi scholars will live at St. Donat’s Castle - www.uwc.org
Q: If Pestalozzi students are going to be in South Wales does this mean you will have to move all your staff there?
A: Sadly the majority of our staff will be made redundant when the current cohort of students leaves us in July 2019. UWC will be responsible for the education, care, health and wellbeing of Pestalozzi scholars going forward so there will be no need for us to have our own team in South Wales. The small number of staff remaining will be focused on raising funds to continue the scholarship programme, overseeing the selection of students to receive a Pestalozzi scholarship and staying in touch with our alumni so that we can continue to demonstrate to our supporters the very positive impact that these exceptional young people make in the world.
Q: How will you raise funds for scholarships?
A: The same way that we do now. The majority of our funding will continue to come from individual donors, charitable trusts and legacies. One of the real benefits of our partnership with UWC is that they will now bear the full overhead of accommodating our students. This means that other than a small amount of money allocated to rent an office space near Hastings all of the funds we raise will be spent on the scholarship programme.
Q: How will you select students?
A: UWC has a network of National Committees based in almost every country of the world. We will focus initially on the nine countries that we currently select from. Our existing partner organisations in those countries will be encouraged to propose candidates who meet all of our selection criteria to the National Committees. We will have the opportunity to observe the selection in each country and the final decisions will still be made by us.
Q: How many students will you sponsor each year?
A: In this first year we have committed to two years of funding for 5 students. As with all our scholarships this will cover everything from flights and visa costs to tuition fees and accommodation.
Another benefit of the partnership with UWC is that if we have a good year for fundraising we can increase student numbers easily without having to invest in additional resources ourselves. Conversely in a year where we raise less we do not have to carry the burden of the fixed overhead of the Pestalozzi Village and we can flex scholarship numbers downwards.
Q: One of the strengths of the Village has always been its diversity. Won’t that be lost if students attend a boarding school in Wales?
A: Our students and alumni really value the international nature of the community here in the Village and it is one of the aspects of the Pestalozzi experience that we were very keen to preserve. We currently have nine different nationalities represented here. In contrast Atlantic College has up to ninety nationalities within its student and staff bodies! We believe that Pestalozzi scholars will thrive in the multi-faith, multi-cultural community of UWC and will both welcome and embrace difference in the same way that they have here in Sedlescombe.
Q: Is it true that Pestalozzi will be offering grants to enable students to set up charities or social enterprises?
A: Yes it is. The Board wants to help alumni to have a positive impact in their home communities and feels that this will be best achieved by providing small amounts of seed funding. The fund will be open to alumni from the current programme, i.e. those who received a scholarship from 1997 onwards. The application process is still being developed but we expect to award the first grants from the Pestalozzi Development Fund later this year.
Q: If you no longer own the Village should the charity still be called the ‘Pestalozzi International Village Trust’?
A: Following consultation with staff, students, volunteers, Trustees and alumni the Board has agreed to rename the charity the ‘Pestalozzi International Foundation’ as this better reflects the nature of the new programme. The change of name took effect in April.