In sight of the 2022 SCIS Annual Conference on Friday 28th April, never before have we reflected on such a challenging and unprecedented year – but it was one that also brought with it opportunities for greater resilience and growth.
During 2020/21 significant changes were introduced across our independent schools, both in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and as part of our long term planning to ensure a bright, exciting future for the sector.
In this blog, we focus on the sector’s success in continuing to thrive throughout a turbulent year and moving forward with new found perspective and structure.
Braving the storm
Throughout 2020/21 we continued to embrace the qualities and values that motivate our member schools and inspire everything we do. This came to fore in the last 12 months as we continued to navigate the impact of the global pandemic.
Our success in achieving this is reflected in parents’ continued confidence in the independent school sector, where pupil numbers are up 1%.
Also, to support inclusivity, almost one-quarter of pupils attending independent schools received some form of financial assistance in this period. Even during these challenging times, our schools continue to support the families who need it most.
Scotland’s independent schools approached the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic like they would any other - by embracing the reality of the event and searching for opportunity within it.
Innovation was evident across all parts of the day-to-day workings of the schools including exam preparation as well as a focus on pupil wellbeing and utilising technology to provide the best possible pupil experience despite the challenges.
The independent sector will continue to administer a laser-focus on pupil wellbeing in the coming years, in line with and recognising Scottish Government priorities surrounding this topic.
Introducing new initiatives
The initiatives that were introduced to serve pupils and their families during COVID-19 were positively received and allowed schools to remain connected during trying times. Many of these initiatives have remained beyond the pandemic and enrich pupils’ learning experience even further.
Pupil mental health and wellbeing have always been a priority for independent schools, but it was brought further to attention over the course of the last two years.
Staff worked even harder to enable flexibility and overcome the challenges associated with remote learning, such as slower broadband speed under the pressure of many family members using the internet at once.
George Watson’s College introduced ‘Feel Good February’ to sustain communication routes for pupils while they were at home, creating opportunities for them to talk about their issues. Read more in our blog.
The pandemic paved the way for advancing our use of technology, taking the technology that was already standard in independent schools to the next level.
For example, George Watson’s College developed their successful online learning platform, GWC Plus, which they will continue to use going forward.
We are proud to reflect upon the resilience demonstrated by our staff and pupils during the pandemic and we are grateful for the advancement of our schools’ structures and processes as a result. We look forward to celebrating our achievements as a sector at the SCIS Annual Conference 2022.