While 2020 was not a good year globally, with the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic leading to many health, economic, and personal tragedies. In the UK, 2021 has started with challenges, but also with some cause for optimism. People have shown great resilience under constantly changing lockdown restrictions, and great creativity in developing ways to work from home and deliver education on-line. The scientific community has risen to the challenge, in particular Oxford University and Cambridge’s AstraZeneca have developed a Covid-19 vaccine, which will be used to protect billions of people world-wide.
It is still too early to say how the year will pan out: It is likely that vaccination will be the key to a return to more normal life. The UK has now administered at least the first dose to over 4 million key workers, old and vulnerable people, and is on track to deliver 2M per week and vaccinate all adults by the autumn. – the vaccines are currently approved for use on over 18s only. The strategy for children is to use regular testing in schools, with isolation for those found to be infected. In the first week of 2021, it is estimated that around 3% of school-age children may have been infected, but these infections were generally mild – some show no symptoms, and hospitalisation was rare – little over 1 per 100,000 children (0.001%).
The UK independent schools have been doing a great job in balancing the educational needs of the students and the need to keep children and staff safe.
Lessons are proceeding on-line until F2F teaching can resume, hopefully after the half-term holiday. Despite political uncertainties in this year’s public examinations, the iGCSE/iA/pre-U used in many independent schools will go ahead.
In summary, the British independent education system has shown great resilience in continuing to deliver the highest quality education and qualifications, safely, in these difficult times. With deployment of Covid vaccinations to the majority of the UK population before the end of the year, there is cause for optimism that things will return closer to normality for the next school year.