Scotland

Coronavirus: UK’s Only MOD-Funded School Reopens

Queen Victoria School is free, non-selective and only requires students to have a connection to the military and Scotland.

The only school in the UK entirely funded by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) has reopened to students following the coronavirus pandemic.

Queen Victoria School, in Dunblane, Scotland, remained open during both world wars but was forced to send its 277 students home due to COVID-19.

Life at the boarding school does look different, with teachers using marked 'safe zones' and an absence of school uniform to reduce the handling of laundry.

Donald Shaw, the school's headteacher, said it was "wonderful to see the children back".

"For the last five months, to have no students within the school campus, I've actually not known how to cope. I've had no purpose in life," he told Forces News.

"I'm delighted to start providing them with an education they deserve again."

Numerous measures were put in place before allowing the students to return.

Among them is the requirement for the children to serve themselves at lunch and for them to be taught in larger spaces, such as the library.

However, students with parents currently posted overseas are still receiving lessons remotely, due to quarantine restrictions.

Cadets is compulsory for at least a year from the age of 14, but even when students arrive aged 10, drill is on the timetable.

Will, a student at the school, said pupils have to "stay away from the teachers" and although they "can still help you... it's not the same".

Hollie, head girl at Queen Victoria School, said she was not worried about returning as she felt safe.

"We were probably safer here anyway because we don't go out all the time, compared to at home. We're not going to be going to the shops every day, things like that," she said.

The school's reopening came as many students across England received their GCSE results, and Mr Shaw said the exam situation in Scotland was "very difficult to deal with" as many students had their results "downgraded".

"There was a lot of upset on exam results day but... when the Government made their u-turn and decided to award the teacher estimates, everyone was delighted," he said.

The school is preparing to welcome a full intake of new pupils on 7 September.