School will be sold to the highest bidder at the close of play on Friday.

THE long-term future of St Michael's School could be decided by the end of the week.

Grade II listed Tawstock Court is being sold by agents acting on behalf of administrators and bids for the independent school and grounds are being accepted until the close of business on Friday.

Currently only the nursery is running after the Barnstaple school went into administration on December 30.

Parents who have rallied to raise an astonishing £1million in just a few weeks now face an anxious wait to see if their bid is successful.

The Tawstock Court Group, led by parent Gordon Gurr, claims administrators Grant Thornton had initially indicated that the amount would be sufficient to enable it to pay off creditors and take on the troubled school. The group told the Gazette that the goalposts had been moved and that the decision to sell the property to the highest bidder had come as a 'bitter blow'.

Mr Gurr said: "They indicated they would sell to us and that we would need £1m for them to do so but they have pulled the rug from under us and are now selling the property on the open market."

But a spokesperson for Grant Thornton said it was its duty to act in the best interest of the creditors to seek 'maximum returns'.

It said agents GVA had been actively marketing the property, attracting interest from a number of potential purchasers, including the parents' Tawstock Court Group.

Grant Thornton partner Nigel Morrison said: "For understandable reasons neither I, nor our agents, can comment upon confidential purchase offers or terms.

"However, we can confirm that we have not accepted a purchase offer from, or granted exclusivity to, any party.

"Open marketing of the site continues and all parties, including the parents' group, Tawstock Court Group, are welcome to submit offers to our agent in accordance with the March 23 deadline.

"We recognise the significant interest of the community in the outcome of this process and whilst complying with our duties, seek to balance this with the interests of the creditors."