|19 Nov 2020|
|Mill Hill Now|
These are incredibly challenging times for society and for schools, but I am pleased to report that the Foundation has shown considerable resilience in continuing to provide an excellent education to its pupils throughout this long period of disruption.
After fully reopening in September, the combined efforts of pupils, staff and parents have enabled us to provide an education in as safe a way as possible. We have had to change a number of school routines and practices, but the focus has been upon attempting as much continuity as possible. For example, our Act of Remembrance rightly still took place, with adaptations; in terms of daily routines, sport fixtures aren’t currently possible with other schools, but training and practices are. Teaching has involved considerable changes, and staff have been incredibly supportive as we’ve moved towards a mixture of physical and remote learning, with innovations like “blended learning” becoming established. We have international boarders who haven’t yet been able to return to school, but who access every lesson live from home. We are pleased to see the priority given by the Government to keeping schools open, given the educational and mental health needs of children, and we have worked very hard to make that a reality.
We cannot ignore the disruption that the first lockdown had on the lives of so many pupils. Our most recent OMs, last year’s Upper Sixth, had to bear the brunt of this, with their final year at Mill Hill School severely disrupted, followed by a rather chaotic A Level results process nationally, and for many now, a more limited university experience. Within the broader school community, lives and livelihoods have been lost, and we fully anticipate the continuing consequences of the pandemic for some time to come.
Many OMs will be interested to know the impact financially of the pandemic on the Foundation. It has certainly been significant: we estimate the combined effect of fee discounts, lost commercial income, increased bursary support and additional protective measures as costing around £1.5-£2 million up to August 2020. The Summer Term was unsurprisingly heavily loss making. We were able to accommodate this by using our reserves, whilst continuing to make necessary investment in the fabric of the schools. Projects over the past few months have included a new Belmont kitchen, the completion of the MHS Music School refurbishment, a new MHS Astro pitch, refurbishment of a number of boarding areas, as well as the necessary investment to reopen safely. We are grateful to those who have made generous contributions towards a number of these.
Looking forward, we have started this academic year with a record number of pupils, with day pupil numbers very strong and only a small decrease in the number of boarders. We can look to the future with confidence, but appreciate this continues to be a time of considerable uncertainty for parents. The Court of Governors therefore decided recently to freeze school fees for this entire academic year. Meanwhile, we continue to plan and prepare for the long-term needs of the Foundation, which will include a further programme of capital investment. I hope to write to you in the near future with more details about these exciting plans. Until then, thank you for your continued interest in and support of the Foundation, and I look forward to a time soon when we will be able to meet together to celebrate the long history and promising future of the schools.
CEO, The Mill Hill School Foundation