THE GYOSEI International School is to close after 15 years serving Milton Keynes Japanese community probably to reopen as a 'super private school for city children.

Gyosei blames the economic crisis in Japan for the closure in March.

Fewer Japanese companies are sending executives abroad and fewer Japanese families are sending their children overseas to study.

That has seen the number of students drop from 400 at its peak to just 30 now.

"I am very sorry to see it close," said Mr Shiro Suematsu, the school s chief administrator.

"Unfortunately the decline is parallel to the decline of the Japanese economy."

But the Citizen understands the Bedford-based Harpur Trust which runs five private schools in Bedfordshire has emerged as a likely buyer for the Gyosei campus at Willen Park, which has dormitories, sports facilities and even a baseball ground.

Harpur representatives have met the managers, viewed the site and are looking into what type of school might be most suitable.

Harpur Trust Chief Executive Tony Bickerstaff said this week: "We have an interest in the site and are in the process of looking at it in some detail before making a decision.

"We have not committed ourselves to anything yet. It is a big undertaking to purchase a site like that and to develop a high quality school."

At Milton Keynes leading independent school, Bury Lawn, proprietor Chris Symington said they could lose some pupils to a new facility.

"But I do not see it as direct competition as we are a non-selective comprehensive whereas a new school is likely to attract those who would have gone to a grammar school," he said.

And that was welcomed by Milton Keynes councillor Andy Dransfield who has fought a long battle to see a local authority grammar school in the city.

"This will give parents another option," he said.

Under the Milton Keynes Council Local Plan the Gyosei site is zoned for community education use.