The last few months have certainly seen mixed messages in the media regarding the future of the Independent School sector. Whilst there have inevitably been casualties of the economic decline, the ability of establishments to improvise and adopt new approaches has unquestionably resonated with new audiences. A survey conducted by Teacher Tapp reported that 72% of independent, secondary schools were able to provide live, face to face, online lessons for their pupils during lockdown. St James Schools were one of the institutions who moved quickly to stream online learning to their students and were able to replicate like for like standard academic timetables; ensuring their pupils didn’t miss out on vital learning. William Wyatt, Chief Operating Officer for the Schools, confirmed how the leadership teams and teaching staff worked tirelessly over Easter to ensure they were up and running for the start of the summer term and were able to deliver engaging, effective and interactive lessons.
With small class sizes further enhancing the digital learning provision, it is perhaps unsurprising that The Independent Schools Association has recently reported a surge in parents of high school students looking for private school places from September. Speaking to the Observer, The Independent Schools Association said it had noticed an increased demand from ‘high-aspirational, worried’ parents looking to transfer their children to an independent school amid fears of further disruption to state education in the coming academic year.
Could the pandemic, therefore, lead to an upturn in demand for independent school places and, if so, how will building and estates teams across the sector accommodate an increased pupil roll whilst adapting to new advancements in technology and balancing the need to maintain small class sizes?
Hayley Mintern – Business Sector Director – Commercial Education