Covid-19 – British boarding schools’ response
All of us here at Dickinson School Consulting hope that you and yours are staying well at this difficult time.
The coronavirus, and trying to avoid it, is affecting life everywhere in a wide variety of ways and we wanted to provide a brief update as to how the British boarding schools we work with are responding to its many challenges.
On Friday 20th March, all schools were ordered to close to pupils other than those who are the children of key workers. Most of our partner schools had already started to react to the increasing limits on movement around the world by helping international students return to their families, wherever that might be. Gina had a busy few days assisting our families where possible, or at least supporting them through the process.
Where necessary, boarding pupils are being cared for until safe transport to their home or guardian can be arranged. We have even heard from one school that several international students will spend their Easter break there. Forming what is now considered a “household”, remaining boarders and dedicated staff are exempt from social distancing, and stringent measures have been put into place to ensure their safety. We imagine it is not the only one doing this too.
With at least one to two weeks to go until the holiday, the next challenge is maintaining some structure for every child’s day and education, once safely isolated at home with their families. Thank goodness we live in the age of the internet, and the schools have been busy setting up their students with online learning facilities so they can continue their education with as much normality as possible. In some cases, pupils are logging on for their tutor meeting first thing and then tasks are set, with teachers online and following their normal timetable alongside the students, to enable them to respond in a timely manner to students’ queries.
Also on 20th March, the British government published its statement on the cancellation of this summer’s exams, which can be read in full here. Some key points from it would be:
- The exam regulator, Ofqual, and exam boards will work with teachers to ensure students whose exams have been cancelled this summer are awarded grades which fairly reflect the work they have put in.
- The aim is to provide these calculated grades to students before the end of July.
- In terms of a permanent record, the grades will be indistinguishable from those provided in other years, with the distribution of grades following a similar pattern to other years’, so that this year’s students do not face a systematic disadvantage as a consequence of these extraordinary circumstances.
- There will also be an option to sit an exam early in the next academic year for students who wish to.
- University representatives have confirmed they expect universities to be flexible, to do all they can to support students and ensure they can progress to higher education.
We realise this is an unsettling time for everyone, and considering plans for the future is very hard, but we’d like to assure you we remain at your disposal for any enquiries about British education, so please do not hesitate to contact us.
Photo by kind permission of Wellington School