Coronavirus (COVID-19): closure and re-opening of schools - impact assessment

An assessment of the impact of school closures and their re-opening on groups with protected characteristics and collates the considerations of all of the following - EQIA, FSDA, ICIA and BRIA.

Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment

The closure and reopening of schools, as highlighted above, impacts all children and young people and the education workforce across Scotland, and the impact of this has been assessed throughout this document. This section looks specifically at the differential impact on independent schools because they, like businesses, are dependent on the income generated by providing education.

90) The independent sector in Scotland consists of 94 schools, educating around 28,000 learners and employing around 4,000 teachers. The 94 may be broken down into the following:

  • 22 special residential schools
  • 13 special day schools
  • 22 mainstream boarding schools
  • 37 mainstream day schools

91) From 11 August all schools will be able to reopen subject to current reopening guidance. There will however be costs associated with reopening in terms of required health and safety arrangements. The economic impact of Covid-19 may well have an impact on pupil numbers going forward, and indeed this may be a worsening situation. Boarding pupils, in particular from other countries, may also not return in the same numbers.

92) Independent schools are expected to continue to experience financial challenges as they reopen due to:

  • potential lower demand from overseas students;
  • increased operating costs as a result of implementing enhanced hygiene measures and potentially as a result of operating at less than full capacity to accommodate public health measures; and
  • unwinding of existing financial support.

93) Independent schools continue to be concerned about their future sustainability, but reopening should help schools achieve a more stable financial footing, and the following mitigating actions will be in place to support them:

a) We are delaying the commencement of section 17 of the Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Act 2020 until 1 April 2021 to assist mainstream independent schools as they deal with the impacts of Covid-19. Section 17 of The Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Act 2020 (which removes charitable rates relief from mainstream independent schools) was planned to commence on 1 September 2020 and will now commence on 1 April 2021 instead.

b) All non-domestic properties including independent schools will benefit from a 1.6% rates relief in 2020-21 which will be applied automatically by councils.



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