School reopening arrangements for January 2021: impact assessment

Considers the impact of the extended school holiday period by a week, and the introduction of remote learning from January 2021 in light of COVID-19 on children and young people, parents and carers, and the education workforce.

Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment

The move to remote learning 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 92 schools, educating around 28,000 learners and employing around 4,000 teachers. The 92 may be broken down into the following:

  • 21 special residential schools
  • 13 special day schools
  • 22 mainstream boarding schools
  • 36 mainstream day schools

91) From January 2021 all schools are to follow the school reopening guidance and the introduction of remote learning for most pupils. This move may 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 the pandemic progresses 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) In order to support independent schools:

  • 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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