When coronavirus cases first began to rise in the UK the Boarding Schools’ Association advised, that where possible, boarders should return home as quickly as possible.
This meant that over the peak period of COVID -19 several boarding schools such as Eton College opened their accommodation to key workers who could not live at home due to the risk they faced at work. Many individuals who used this service did so because they live with vulnerable individuals. However, there is still a lot of confusion surrounding what will happen in September as government guidance constantly changes.
Current government advice is that from September all schools will be allowed to reopen in full including boarding schools. Independent schools are expected to follow the guidelines described in the same way that public schools will be. It is the responsibility of the school to produce risk assessments and outline the procedures they will put in place to protect students and staff.
Some parents may feel uncomfortable sending their children back to boarding school in September. Particularly in cases where schools also accept day students or students that only board during the week as these students will be interacting with a variety of other households. Mixing households increases the risk of potentially catching coronavirus and then spreading it. It is up to the school to convince parents that the measure they put in place will be sufficient.
The Boarding Schools’ Association have released a covid-safe charter for boarding schools to adhere too. It aims to reassure parents that the school has implemented appropriate procedures and created a safe environment for everyone. Many schools have agreed to this charter meaning that they must adopt all of the methods that is describes.
Independent schools have had varying responses to COVID-19 in regards to reducing fees. Whilst some may offer a 50% discount others can only offer 10%. However, the level of discount is linked to the quality of resources and teaching provided online during lockdown. Another common arrangement has been to freeze the cost of fees for a year. This provides some compensation to parents on the basis that the September term will go ahead as normal.
The Times has found that demand for private schools has increased by up to 30% as parents now want to ensure the best education they can for their child so they don’t fall behind after lockdown.
There is a concern that the wide range of extracurricular activities that parents pay for will not be accessible due to social distancing regulations. Currently recreational team sports are allowed under the UK guidelines within strict regulations. The phased return of physical activity may mean by September there will still be a range of activities for students to participate in to help keep life as normal as possible.
Boarding schools are currently making their final decisions regarding details of how to accommodate the return of boarders. The government is constantly changing the list of countries that are exempt from quarantine upon arriving in the UK so this must be considered when discussing processes for international students. They must make sure their decisions are in the best interest of the staff and students while also being in line with the most up to date government advice.
At SFIA we have almost 70 years of expertise in school fees planning. We have helped many families by making the fees easier to manage in the short term whilst mitigating the longer term impacts. If you’d like to know more please contact us on 01628 566777 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d be happy to discuss your individual requirements.