Private schools in Britian are willing to offer their buildings and grounds for summer catch-up courses for children who have missed out most amid the pandemic, an independent schools chief has said.

Julie Robinson, chief executive of the Independent Schools Council (ISC), said a number of fee-paying schools have greater capacity to help as their normal events bookings over the summer have been cancelled.

The ISC, which represents more than 1,300 private schools, has written to the Education Secretary to offer their support in hosting catch-up courses in August to help “close the disadvantage gap”.

The letter to Gavin Williamson said: “If a national scheme can be organised and catch-up courses can be delivered regionally, independent schools will willingly support extra tuition provision in whatever practical ways they can: providing classrooms, catering and other staffing as far as they are able.”

It comes as the British Government is due to announce details of its summer catch-up programme this week.

Gavin Williamson

Already six large independent schools – including King’s College School Wimbledon and Bury Grammar School – are looking to run their own summer catch-up provision at their own cost, Ms Robinson said.

She added that around 80% of private schools have said they would be interested in running courses targeted at children who need the most help in catching up if they were given extra funding.

“It’s really important for us that we’re not overlooked as a sector. It would be a total shame. I think it would be a loss to the country, a loss to the joint effort,” Ms Robinson told the PA news agency.

She said: “There are independent schools who won’t have their usual holiday time bookings and will have space available. Not so much in term time, because owing to the distancing requirements they can’t get all of their own pupils in, but in the downtime independent schools can potentially host.

“Independent schools are poised ready to support and provide a venue for extra catch-up work.”

We have a generation of young people, not just here in our school but nationally, that have missed out and that’s heartbreaking

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