‘Will our pupils ever come back?’ ask private schools

Independent school head talks of ‘desperate situation’ as international boarders go home, leaving the challenge of balancing the books while preserving jobs

pupils not coming back

“We’ve just lost 170 boarders who have gone back to their home countries and may or may not return – we are suddenly in very challenging times.”

Kevin Samson, co-principal of Buckswood School, an independent secondary boarding school in East Sussex, has spoken to Tes about the impact of coronavirus on his school.

Around 100 of his staff (out of 160) have been furloughed under the government’s CJRS scheme while a “handful” of non-teaching staff have been made redundant.

Coronavirus: Hundreds of private schools 'bust by Christmas'

Related: Private schools 'wrestling' with fee cuts

Read: Prep schools expected to cut fees

He said: “It’s a challenge right now given that schools like ours are invoicing for next term, and that’s what our cash flow depends upon.

“It’s an unknown as to how successful that will be [the invoicing] with parents who are finding themselves losing jobs.”

Mr Samson said international parents whose children were still being remotely educated by schools may now be looking at educating their children in their own countries.

He added: “Do parents want to pay for an online education, which they could potentially get for free in their own country? There are a lot of unknowns, and we have to plan with a very limited cash flow at present.

“We are speaking with our bank right now, but the banks are delaying various things in terms of finance and they’re trying to put personal guarantees upon loans and all sorts of things.

"Our main challenge now is maintaining liquidity through the business

“With this government scheme {CJRS] you have to fund the payroll yourself and they pay you back. I don’t think that’s going to be a problem for us, but I’m not the business manager.”

The Department for Education says it is doing "all it can" to help the independent school sector as insiders say hundreds of independent schools could be 'bust by Christmas'.

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

Dave Speck

Dave Speck is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @Specktator100

Latest stories

Will teachers fight a 'catch-up' extended school day?

Will teachers fight a 'catch-up' extended school day?

LONG READ: Longer school days are predicted to be key to a 4-year Covid recovery plan due to be unveiled by the PM next month. William Stewart examines whether this means a bust-up with teachers' leaders.
William Stewart 18 Apr 2021