Home Insights & Advice The coronavirus has left the education sector in disarray: What can private schools do to boost their chances of survival?

The coronavirus has left the education sector in disarray: What can private schools do to boost their chances of survival?

by John Saunders
31st Jul 20 6:23 am

The coronavirus pandemic was first detected in China in 2019. This deadly disease has now infected people in over 188 countries around the world, with over 300,000 infections and over 45,000 deaths occurring in the UK.

In the UK, the coronavirus pandemic led to the near-total closure of businesses and schools. The only businesses allowed to stay open at the peak of the pandemic were essential shops and services like supermarkets and petrol stations.

Education settings around the UK were also closed to the majority of pupils. Schools were only allowed to open for children of keyworkers like doctors and nurses.

The coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on the UK economy, with lots of businesses closing their doors for good. This led to over 6 million people in the UK becoming unemployed and claiming unemployment benefits.

Because of this, lots of private schools have found themselves struggling to survive as parents who have lost their jobs are having to cancel non-essential direct debits in order to pay for essential items like food and electricity. Many private schools have also discovered that their overseas pupils are unlikely to return to the UK to complete their education, as they’re worried about safety. This has led to lots of private schools considering whether they should re-open or not.

As we start to see the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, we’re likely to see an increase in the number of private schools closing their doors for good. But there are some things that private schools can do to minimise the damage. Keep reading below to find out some of the ways in which private schools can increase their chances of survival:

1. Offer discounted rates for the summer term

Private schools that want to boost their chances of staying open over the next few months should consider offering their students a discounted rate for the months they weren’t able to attend school.

Children who couldn’t attend school during the peak of the pandemic were expected to complete work online or at home. While schools still incurred some costs during these months, the costs weren’t as high as they would have been had the pupils been on the premises.

Offering discounted rates for the summer months will show the parents of your pupils that you appreciate all they’ve done to help their children learn over this difficult period, and it will encourage them to send their children back into your care in September. It also shows them that you only expect them to pay for the education that their child receives.

2. Offer rebates

Another way private schools can boost their chances of survival is by offering rebates on things like transport, meals, and extracurricular activities. Parents will be less likely to send their children back to a school that’s charged them for activities their child was unable to take part in and meals they were unable to eat.

While this means spending money in the short term, it will likely mean that the parents of your pupils are more willing to send their children back to you in the future. If you want to keep your pupil numbers high, then this is a good option for you.

3. Freeze your fees

The pandemic has caused lots of us to be more careful with how we spend our money. We’re no longer spending as much money on luxuries like holidays or new cars, and instead, we’re saving it for essential items like heating and food.

Lots of people view sending their children to a private school as a luxury. After all, there are lots of regular schools available that don’t charge their pupils money to attend. This means that private schools will need to work even harder than before in order to gain new pupils.

If you want to attract more pupils to your private school (and therefore stay in business), then freezing the fees you charge is a great idea. You should also consider increasing your bursaries and introducing a hardship fund for families struggling after the pandemic.

Lots of people in the UK have lost their jobs over the last few months, but hopefully, it’s only a matter of time until the economy starts to recover and new jobs become available. If you want to ensure your existing pupils return and you want to increase numbers, then keeping your fees at the same rate is worth considering.

4. Show how you’ve adapted the school to make it safe

Most parents are worried about sending their children back to school in September. How do they know if it’s safe? Schools that want to increase their chances of survival will need to show parents that they can effectively follow the health and safety procedures and recommendations put in place by the government.

They will need to show parents how they’re reducing the risk of children catching the coronavirus. Allow them to view your policies, talk to them about the procedures in place, and show them how you’ve altered the classrooms to make them safer.

One way to show parents how you’ve adapted the school is by hiring a professional photographer to take photographs or a make video for you. Greg Harding is a commercial photographer who has produced multi-award-winning photography and video in the UK. He creates imagery to suit your needs. Creating a video of the changes you’ve made can help make the children and their parents feel more relaxed about returning to school. They will know that you’re doing everything possible to help keep them safe.

5. Stand out from the competition

If you want to attract more pupils to your school, then you’ll need to stand out from your competition. Advertising how you are different from other schools will help you to stand out. When you advertise or market the school, you should include information like:

  • How you take care of your pupils
  • How you encourage your pupils to do their best
  • What your school rules are
  • What grades your children achieve
  • How many pupils are in each class – this is more important than ever. A school that has smaller class sizes will be able to socially distance more effectively than a school that has large class sizes.
  • The technology you have available
  • The extra-curricular activities the children can take part in

Private schools that stand out from their competition are more likely to attract new pupils and are therefore more likely to survive.

6. Advertise

In order to gain new pupils, you will need to advertise your school. You should advertise in as many places as possible. This could include:

  • On the television
  • On the radio
  • On social media
  • In local newspapers
  • On your website
  • On educational websites

Times are tough for private schools in the UK. Not only are schools having to deal with the reduction in revenue, but they also have to implement new safety procedures in order to keep their pupils as safe as possible. Private schools that want to boost their chances of survival in the coming months and years should follow some of our top tips above.

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