Despite it being three years since the first lockdown, the effects of Covid-19 continue to be wide-reaching, impacting our health, our economy, our society and perhaps more so than anything, our young people’s health and well-being.
Never before has our sector dealt with such an unprecedented challenge, but from it, we have emerged stronger and more resilient than ever, approaching the challenge like any other – by embracing the reality of the event and searching for opportunity within it.
With this in mind, let’s reflect on the lasting impact the pandemic has had on our schools:
There’s no escaping (like for so many), the economic impact of Covid. Many schools offered discounted fees and opened hardship funds for families while losing revenue from international pupils’ inability to travel to the UK. This, combined with the removal of business rates relief (despite continuing charity registration) and the increase in employment costs and the shrinking of the UK economy, has made the pressures on parents, carers and schools all the greater.
And while these financial challenges are significant in the short term, we know Scotland’s independent schools will thrive in the long term because they focus on what they do best – offering a world-class education for their pupils, remembering that what matters most in education is the experience of learning itself - the interaction, the challenge, the growth and the discovery. Parents will always look to maximise the exposure of their children to these.
Schools impressed parents with their adaptability and flexibility when lockdown hit, transitioning to online learning virtually overnight. While schools were already investing in technology solutions prior to the pandemic, it certainly accelerated the process of digital transformation in schools, taking their technology adoption to the next level to provide the best possible learning experience for their pupils. For example, George Watson’s College developed its successful online learning platform, GWC Plus, which it still uses today.
The Covid-19 pandemic impacted every single one of us, but none more so than our young people who suffered hugely from the closure of schools and as a society, we will be dealing with the effects of this for many years to come.
Our schools very quickly recognised this, investing huge amounts of time and resources into pupil health and wellbeing, introducing wide-ranging initiatives that served pupils and their families. And many of these initiatives still exist today. For example, Merchiston Castle School introduced a Mood Check app to monitor student wellbeing while they were at home.
Our schools are heavily invested in their student well-being and consider their pastoral role as important as their academic one, but this was even more apparent during lockdown and continues to be the case today.
Covid-19 presented us all with huge challenges but Scotland’s independent schools can look forward with huge confidence because of the way they responded. We are proud to represent a sector that demonstrated such resilience, adaptability and care throughout. They adapted their processes and structures quickly while continuing to some of the best education and pastoral care the world has to offer.