Through our recent discussions with families who live abroad and have children studying at British boarding schools, we have compiled a list of their FAQs:
1. When will British boarding schools fully re-open?
The Government has announced that on 1 June, primary schools in England may be able to welcome back children in key transition years – nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6. The week commencing 15 June, schools will be able to offer face-to-face support to supplement the remote education of year 10 and year 12 pupils, which will remain the predominant mode of education during this term for pupils in these year groups. However, it is very unlikely that any schools will begin boarding this term and at present it appears unlikely that boarding schools will fully re-open for all year groups until this coming September.
2. When schools re-open, what new health and safety measures will be put in place at school to safeguard the wellbeing of my child?
The British government has released guidance on re-opening schools. However, it notes that full social distancing in boarding schools will be very difficult, in terms of maintaining constant 2-metre distances. Among the recommendations that schools have been asked to take include:
- ensuring people with Covid-19 symptoms are kept out of school
- regular hand-washing and surface cleaning
- maintaining distance (as far as reasonably possible)
- reducing class sizes
- staggering break times
Other frequently asked questions about how schools will operate include:
How will schools keep the children apart?
Desks will be set up with 2m spaces between them. However, schools appreciate that this will not always be possible and that children are likely to move around but they will be trying to the best of their ability to maintain the social distancing guidance.
Will all children have their temperatures taken on arrival at school?
Whilst the government guidance states that this is not necessary any more, we understand that schools that have already reopened for nursery and primary years have been doing this.
Will teachers be able to support my child in-class in the same way that they usually do?
Where possible, social distancing will be adhered to. Teachers will try to support the children from a distance but may need to move within 2m of individuals if absolutely necessary.
3. Will international students return to boarding schools in September?
This very much will depend on the travel restrictions and the general Covid-19 situation at the time. If there is still a two-week quarantine in place, some schools have said that students will be able to quarantine at school, but it’s worth double checking with your school directly.
Schools are anticipating that some international students will not return in September. However, some schools are showing flexibility and have said that they will be allowed to return to school later in the Autumn term.
If the majority of international students do not return at the beginning of September, schoolsmay well continue to provide online teaching for those students. However, if this is not the case at your school, and you would like some additional support in home schooling your child (even on a temporary basis) then you can read more about our approach in this blog post.
4. Will there be more places available at British boarding schools due to the Covid-19 pandemic?
We anticipate that there will be more places available, especially for potential boarders. Recently, we have seen places appear for entry in September 2020 at several highly ranked boarding schools which is a very rare occurrence this late in the application cycle. Schools are expecting slightly weaker demand from the UK local market as many families have been hit financially by the Covid-19 pandemic and may no longer be considering independent schools. Also, British families who were once considering boarding schools may also now favour day schools. We have also seen schools become more flexible with regards to their testing and interview timelines.
If families are considering late entry in September 2020, it is worth checking place availability directly with the school or alternatively families can reach out to Keystone Tutors for support as we are constantly in touch with many leading schools across the UK.
5. Will families be able to visit British boarding schools any time soon?
This is unlikely. To avoid the risk of infection, schools will be very wary of allowing school visits and it’s likely that they will continue to offer ‘virtual’ tours that have been common during the summer term. Virtual tours, which take place online, are able to showcase all of the school’s facilities as well as giving families a chance to ask questions directly to the Registrar or the Headmaster.