1 Do I still have to pay the fees once the teachers are on furlough?
The School is dependent on families honouring their contracts, but we also know that significant numbers of you are unable to pay full fees, and some can pay nothing, thus the School’s income has decreased significantly. This income consists almost entirely of the fees that families agree to pay, and we are extremely grateful if that can continue from some families.
In order for the School to function financially in the immediate future we are asking that full fees be paid despite the inevitably poorer quality of education we can provide during the summer term.
Even with the help of 80% salaries for furloughed staff we estimate that we are likely to increase our deficit by about £5,700 every month from May to August. Thus we cannot afford to offer a discount on fees, or a “fee holiday”, at the current time.
2 If we are expected to continue to pay fees, what does this pay for if teachers’ salaries are covered by the UK government?
We are taking advantage of the UK Government’s furlough scheme (paying 80% of payroll for furloughed staff) to prevent the School from getting even deeper into debt.
We need to continue paying the monthly running costs such as bank loan charges, insurance premiums and essential maintenance and repairs. Then there are the salaries of the five staff who are not furloughed (currently Maya, Tom, Lesley, Jane and Steven Kemp, our newly appointed Premises Coordinator). We have also committed to topping up the 20% salary of furloughed staff until the end of May. All the teachers worked very hard during the Easter holidays to prepare online material for the children.
3 Given that for most people the current situation means that they have lost all or part of their income, how can families commit to higher school fees in September when not everyone will be eligible for Government support?
We understand that in these very uncertain times many families will not be able to commit to any fees from September. The increases in fees agreed by SGT in April are in line with a business plan developed to attract additional funding to tide the School through the next year. We are having to be more business-minded.
This is a very stressful time for all of us but be assured that the trustees and staff are doing everything we can to ensure the School survives the next few months and can grow sustainably in the future.
4 If we cannot afford to pay the full fees, or even part of the fees, does that mean I will be excluded from online support?
No. We have committed to continue to provide online education to children of families who are unable to pay all, or part of, fees during the Covid-19 lockdown, but we are asking that they pay those fees when they are able to in the future. We recognise that in these very uncertain times it is difficult for many families to commit to anything definite.
5 Can the School help families like ours who believe the only option is to remove our children from the school as our income has plummeted and we are very unlikely to be able to pay fees in September?
We have just launched a fundraising campaign (the Covid-19 Hardship Community Fund) specifically to raise funds from the wider School Community to help families such as yours. If that fund generates enough money we will invite applications from families who need help with fee payments. We must stress that there is no certainty, as yet, that the fund would generate sufficient to be a worthwhile lifeline but we should know more by the end of June. If there is sufficient to open up applications they will be means-tested to make it fair and transparent.
Please share the link to the fund which is on the Nant-y-Cwm School Supporters Facebook page at Facebook NyC Group. We emphasise that this fundraising campaign is aimed at the wider School Community.
6 How can I feedback on the online school resources, i.e. what we find works and what doesn’t?
Please do give all feedback to the “on-call” teachers as soon as you have any.
Any concerns that can’t be resolved by the on-call teachers should be forwarded to Lesley.
7 Once teachers are furloughed are we allowed to talk to them as a friend?
Absolutely, definitely, yes. We recognise that staying in touch with friends is even more important during these socially-distanced but emotionally-needy times. However, please bear in mind that furloughed staff should not be asked to comment on School business while you communicate with them. It will be very difficult for both you and the staff to abide by this strict rule that we must maintain if the School is not to run foul of HMRC’s strict rules introduced by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
8 Generally what does becoming a trustee involve in terms of time commitment?
At the moment none of us Trustees would say that the time commitment is conducive to a good work/life balance. Just ask Lindsay’s or Debbie’s families, or Pete’s wife. However, once we can navigate our way through the current crisis we are confident that measures that we are working on will make the routine work of Trustees far more attractive.
Under more usual times we hold an SGT meeting at least once a term. We held 3 “remote” meetings in April this year, using new powers we introduced in the update of the School’s Articles of Association agreed at the AGM last year.
We are also able to respond rapidly to issues where our input is needed between meetings. We have also developed some useful induction resources to help new Trustees get to work quickly. It can be a very rewarding role, being part of a community of dedicated staff and amazing families, all working together for the benefit of the pupils in the Parent Group, Kindergarten and Main School.
We would welcome interest from any of you thinking about taking on a role in School governance.