St Hilda's school in Westcliff goes into liquidation
An independent school has told pupils and staff it has gone into liquidation and would not be opening again.
St Hilda's School in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, informed its 90 students of the news on the last day of the summer term.
The school's directors said "excess capacity" for independent school places in the area was behind the decision.
A nearby school said it had received "numerous calls asking about availability" for the autumn term.
One parent said no one was aware there were financial problems.
"It's always been a small school, but we had been reassured we'd never be in this situation," she said.
Another mother told BBC Essex: "My concern is my daughter, her education and her future, and where we go from here."
St Hilda's directors said they had "striven hard to keep the school open" but they accepted the closure "with very heavy hearts".
"We have sought finance, possible buyers and mergers, and various other possibilities notwithstanding considerable financial input from ourselves," they wrote in a statement.
Darren Wilson, from DKF Insolvency Ltd, the firm which is assisting with the school's liquidation, described the closure as "a great shame".
"The company was formed in 1957, and many teachers had been there for many years.
"It was a family atmosphere. Quite a few tears were shed when the news came out."
He confirmed staff would receive redundancy pay.