School closures: Private schools urge parents not to withhold fees as coronavirus grips UK

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School closures: Private schools urge parents not to withhold fees as coronavirus grips UK

Postby Community Editor » Tue Mar 24, 2020 9:49 pm

Private schools have urged parents not to withhold teaching fees despite school closures.

A private school representative has urged parents not to withhold tuition fees given the severity of the situation that will see schools close their doors to countless students. Neil Roskilly, chief executive of the Independent Schools Association, said schools were considering issuing a refund for the remainder of the summer term.

He added that many, where possible, will examine whether it is possible to freeze fees next year.

He said: “I think schools, if they can afford it, will also freeze fees for next year because they know things are tough for parents.”

But, though this is a possibility, Mr Roskilly asked parents not to withhold fees and try to understand that schools are doing their best to maintain a “continuity of education” in the form of technology.

Barnaby Lenon, chairman of the Independent Schools Council warned that private schools face closure should parents withdraw their fees.

In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, he explained that independent schools are essentially “small businesses” and are “in the same boat as everyone else”.

He added: ”Schools that can provide activities on a regular basis will have to staff them and those staff will need to be paid.

“In the end, a bit will depend on the ability of schools being able to demonstrate that they are doing the best that they can.

“A bit will depend on the patience and generosity of parents, but schools intend to keep going as far as they reasonably can.”

He also voiced concern over the system of awarding students grades based on previous assignments and mock exams.

This, he said, could adversely impact pupils who “mark down” in practice exams.

He explained: “As far as the year 11 and year 13 are concerned, with public exams cancelled, a lot depends on whether the schools feel they need to collect evidence of academic progress from those students over the next two months particularly.

“The details have not yet been announced by Ofqual, but we can be sure that statements like ‘you can use mock exam results’ are bound to be inadequate because some mock exams happened months ago and some teachers quite deliberately mark down for mocks.

“Many people may have made good progress since the mocks so it could be felt that schools will want to carry on setting a marking work and delivering online lessons for the next two or three months, in which case the teachers will need to be employed, the teachers will need to be paid, and that’s a justification for a fee.”

Meanwhile, teachers have been given the authority to check parents’ ID and payslips to ensure they are the government’s definition of “key workers” before they allow their children to enter their schools.

Despite the measure - that is intended to relieve teachers of issues - heads of schools have predicted that the morning run will be carnage, with experts forecasting some two million pupils will attempt to attend school this morning.

Concerns already exist that teachers across the country are not well-prepared for what the pandemic will cause in the education sector.

One head blasted the “disgraceful mob mentality” of parents, fearing she may not be able to open the school at all, according to The Daily Mail.

On Sunday, the Department for Education released last minute guidance for schools ahead of the first closures day.

Teachers were told how to police the children they allowed in based on their parents’ occupations.

Among those attempting to claim “key worker” status according to teachers: carpet fitters, nail technicians, and sausage makers.

The official document from the department said: “We know many schools will have already spoken with parents/carers to identify who requires a school place.

“If it proves necessary, schools can ask for simple evidence that the parent in question is a critical worker, such as their work ID badge or payslip.

“If required, we recommend asking for simple evidence that the parent in question is a critical worker, such as confirmation from their employer on what their job is and how it is critical to the Covid-19 response.

“If any problems occur, schools should speak to their local authority.”
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