Why modern family life needs schools that fit
PUBLISHED: 00:00 31 July 2020
Queen Margaret’s Head, Sue Baillie reflects on what students and their families are really going to need when it comes to their schooling in September and beyond.
Having begun my Headship at all-girls School, Queen Margaret’s last September, it’s fair to say my first year in post hasn’t been how I’d expected it to be. Schools have all had to adapt as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. This has afforded us the opportunity to reflect on what students and their families are really going to need when it comes to their schooling in September and beyond.
As the country returns to some degree of normality, perhaps with working parents having to split their week between the office and home, with children of different ages in different ‘bubbles’, and the pre-COVID family chauffeuring and bistro services fully open for business, what is certain is that busy modern families will require a school provision which can work around them. When I first came to QM I noticed just how strong the ‘family feel’ is here and it’s important for us to work together in partnership with our families. This is why we’ve introduced a flexible boarding structure with options that range from girls staying at School for one night a week to five nights a week, in addition to our popular full boarding provision. With our new ‘day only’ option, we’ve thought about families requiring flexibility so girls can be dropped off at School from 07:30, beating the rush hour commute, and if time at the office runs away or a meeting runs over, girls can stay until 19:30. Picking up your child from school knowing that they have had a hot meal, their homework is finished and they may have even done some music practice is a real win for parents at the end of a busy day - no more ‘hangry’ moments in the car on the way home.
The national picture of independent boarding is changing; more parents want to have their children at home in the evenings or at weekends and their commitments can mean that there can be a changing family dynamic. Lockdown has certainly seen families rediscover the value of spending more time together as a unit. Equally important is a School environment where parents feel their children are safe, especially in the midst of a global pandemic, and where there is space for them to learn and flourish as individuals. At QM we have small classes and are incredibly lucky to be situated in 75 acres, only six miles from York.
Of course, the benefits of a QM education don’t just extend to flexibility, more individual support and a safer environment. When lockdown began, QM was swift to introduce a digital learning platform - QM Connect - which combined live lessons, online individual tutorials and enrichment activities all within a structured day. Whilst the pressures of home-schooling have been very apparent for parents across the country during the recent months, I am proud that QM adapted to meet the needs of our families. In the event that we find ourselves in isolation again or in another lockdown situation after September, our ‘blended’ learning approach means that our girls will be able to transition seamlessly from the classroom to learning from home or their boarding house via QM Connect, and back again, with little disruption to their learning.
Understanding what modern, busy parents need when it comes to their child’s education, QM is a school that is accessible, has flexible boarding and day options, and competitive fees to match - all of which means an independent education is within reach for more families in our region.