Experts revealed that private education institutions could be better prepared for social distancing thanks to their spending over the last 20 years. Dr Martin Stephen, a former chairman of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference which represents the country’s leading public schools, told The Telegraph private schools have spent “extravagantly” to extend their facilities instead of classrooms.
An academy principal in Bedford said it would be “nigh on impossible” to ensure students are far apart.
Stuart Lock, executive principal of Advantage Schools, which runs two academies in Bedford, told The Telegraph: “The first thing we need to accept if we come to reopen schools is any level of social distancing is nigh on impossible.”
Tarun Kapur, chief executive of the Dean Trust which runs 12 academies in Manchester, told BBC Radio 4 having to create smaller classes could mean some of his schools would end up with up to 40 classes per year group.
Reports claiming private schools are providing more home schooling than state schools have sparked debates about the differences between both.
And private institutions may be in a better position now because of how they’ve spent parents’ money.
Dr Stephen said: “By and large the money they have extravagantly spent over the past 20 years has not gone into classrooms, it has gone into building sports halls and theatres.
“For a period of time you can see a situation where sport ceases to exist and that would also apply to music and theatre.
“Instead, teaching could take place in the sports hall, in the theatre and in the concert hall.”
The former chair said private school students were more likely to have their own laptops at home then compared to pupils in state schools.
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Prof Lee Elliot Major, from Exeter University, added that private schools already have a lesser amount of children per class, meaning they could have a larger distance in-between them.
Earlier this month it was reported some private schools that asked parents to pay 90% of their fees for next term are furloughing staff on taxpayers’ contributions.
Rishi Sunak’s economic policy introduced a pay for employees who are unable to work due to the coronavirus lockdown.
Furloughed workers obtain 80% of their wages through a state-funded grant to their employers.
The policy was introduces in a bid to prevent layoffs from companies that could not afford to pay their employees unless they are running.
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Private schools which normally charge thousands of pounds are only discounting 10 percent of the cost for the next year, the Evening Standard reported.
This is regardless of their staff being furloughed on taxpayer’s money, and considering schools might not even be running if current lockdown restrictions are extended further.
The schools in question are part of the Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST), the UK’s largest private girls schools association, which runs 25 across the UK.
A spokeswoman told the newspaper: “Like many companies GDST is going to be furloughing staff to ensure our longevity long term.”
It comes as Scotland’s education secretary, John Swinney, said that it is “inconceivable” that all pupils will go back to school at the same time.