From one side of the road to the other, I conversed with a friend who lives opposite the other day as we both stepped outside to feel the sun on our faces. He looked visibly drained and, on asking how he was, he replied that he was truly struggling to manage his children, their school work and their simply being at home all day. What was making it worse was the fact that he had to work himself as it was a particularly busy time for him professionally and that he was not sure this was going to be possible. He was worried about making ends meet and paying the soon to be demanded school fees which he believed were not going to be amended in any way.
This cameo is being played out each day across the country as parents learn to adapt to a new rhythm of life, with different pressure points and considerations, whilst also having to adapt their own professional working lives too in the majority of cases. A number of parents with children in the independent sector are also facing difficult decisions as their own professions become threatened.
As a School, Eaton Square has carefully considered this situation and, after consultation with the Board, created what it believes is the fairest and most supportive model for its parents and their families. It entirely recognises that there will be families moving forward who are unable to operate as they have done in the past and also that there are those who would like to offer their support too. In light of this, the decision to reduce the Summer Term fees by 25% across all year groups was taken, in addition to freezing any School Fee rises for another academic year. By doing so, the School hopes to alleviate some of the difficulties which the parents are facing in these unprecedented and challenging times.
As importantly, whilst agreeing to take these steps, Eaton Square School has set up a Hardship Fund to further support those families who need more stability until this period has passed. The School has asked those parents who are in a position to pay their fees in full whether they would like to contribute 25% of that fee towards the Hardship Fund, whereby the School would match the donation. The response has been positive and the parents who have agreed to do so have done so freely and happily, which has been so good to see.
One parent recently said “I have paid my fees and am happy for 25% to go to the hardship fund. I paid the invoice as soon as I got it, because I knew that even though we may do the whole Summer Term from our homes, the distance learning provided by Eaton Square would still be excellent. I think you are all doing an exceptional job, and I’m very happy to see that you will be trying to support suppliers and families dramatically financially affected by coronavirus. I am proud to be part of the Eaton Square family, and fully support the school.”
As we continue to navigate a way through the weeks and months ahead, it is hoped that this process will be seen as a positive in amongst all of the hardships that many are now facing and the reaction, to date, would appear to suggest that it is doing just that.
SEBASTIAN HEPHER, PRINICIPAL, EATON SQUARE SCHOOL