TWO Dorset schools will merge from September to create a “compelling and distinctive educational experience”.

Bryanston and Knighton House pre-prep and prep school have confirmed arrangements to complete a formal merger, effective from September 1.

The announcement follows Bryanston’s acquisition of the land and buildings of the neighbouring Knighton House campus last year.

The move is intended to increase the agility, strength in depth and operational efficiencies of the establishments, school leaders said.

“This is an exciting and significant development for both schools,” said Julian Greenhill, chair of Bryanston Governors.

“As next-door neighbours, Bryanston and Knighton House have enjoyed a close and productive relationship over many decades.

"The decision to proceed with a merger is a logical and forward-looking step that will enrich the experience and deliver significant benefits for all pupils.”

Knighton House will be renamed Bryanston Knighton House and all existing teaching and support staff at the school will be TUPE-transferred to Bryanston.

Will Lockett, a former housemaster at Bryanston, has returned to Dorset and been appointed as the new headmaster of Bryanston Knighton House.

“The merger presents a wonderful mix of new opportunities and wider horizons for our pupils while very much retaining the warm, family ethos in the heart of the Dorset countryside,” said Mr Lockett.

Iain Weatherby, co-chair of governors at Knighton House, added: “Will’s knowledge and experience of running a highly regarded prep school and his deep familiarity with Bryanston will provide Bryanston Knighton House with exactly the right insight and leadership as it enters an exciting new era.”

Knighton House has recently celebrated its 70th anniversary and its 30-acre site in Durweston lies directly adjacent to Bryanston’s 400-acre campus.

Mr Weatherby and Paul Slight, the current co-chairs of the Knighton House governing body, will continue to be involved as part of the transition team to support the new merger. In due course, Bryanston’s governors will assume responsibility for the school and a new governor will be appointed to ensure the specific requirements of a pre-prep and prep school are taken into full account.

Day-to-day management of the prep school will then be the responsibility of Mr Lockett and his senior staff who will report to Bryanston headmaster, Mark Mortimer.