The decision to sponsor an academy is not one to be taken lightly. It should also not be taken under duress from Mr Gove. After all, there are resource and reputational risks attached. Sam Macdonald examines the process
As Matthew Burgess of the ISC has notably observed, it is disheartening for the independent school sector to find itself at odds with Lord Adonis so often these days. But his view that sponsoring academies is necessary for charitable schools to be true to their charitable mission is so far removed from the latest view of the Court, that being at odds with him is inevitable.
The demand for spaces in UK boarding schools from Russian students is on the rise, and not just in senior schools. Should boarding schools target this and other foreign markets? Suzie Oweiss reveals the emerging statistics
According to recent figures published by the ISC, this year there are 26,376 non-British students attending British schools with parents living overseas. There has been a striking increase in the number of pupils with parents living in Russia, from 816 in 2007 (3.9 per cent of all overseas pupils) to 1,722 in 2012 (6.5 per cent).
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IPSEF London takes place on 7-8 November. It will feature two days of high-level discussion and debate led by senior heads, school group owners, investors and businesses on the strategic issues concerned with international and private schools
While addressing the core themes of why and how to set up a school abroad, curriculum choices and the management of a major school project, IPSEF London will also focus on senior staff recruitment and feature a training session for those responsible for recruiting staff. IPSEF is held at the Westminster Conference located in Victoria, London SW1.
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Studies show an increase in the number of international students attending English-speaking schools in the US over the last decade. Paul Miller and Ioana Suciu Wheeler discuss strategies on how best to recruit them to your school
According to data from the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), the number of international students in US member schools increased by 49 per cent over the last ten years. In 2011-12, international students made up 3.3 per cent of the total student body (12.5 per cent at schools with boarding components, and 1.5 per cent at day schools).
It is not surprising that mergers have increasingly become a feature of the independent school sector. Rebecca Fry reviews how to manage the process, plus we provide an update on the new rules governing vetting and barring
The recent Charity Tribunal decision on the controversial merger of King Edward VII and Queen Mary School in Lytham St Annes (KEQMS) with the Arnold School in Blackpool provides useful guidance for schools considering mergers and highlights some potential pitfalls.
School trip safety
Taking groups of pupils out of school is potentially one of the most hazardous things a teacher is called upon to do and where there is fun and adventure, there is risk, writes Graham Greaves
Schools have a responsibility to produce guidelines on the procedures for trips, transport and outside activities and while sensible management cannot remove risk altogether, it should avoid needless or unhelpful paperwork. The key is to take a common-sense and proportionate approach, remembering that risk assessments are tools to enable children to undertake activities or trips safely, and not prevent them from taking place.
There is an apparent rush to expand UK independent school brands overseas. But what are the real opportunities and pitfalls of opening campuses abroad? Karan Khemka, Alana Rush and Sarah Andries report on the trend
Growth in emerging markets has captured the imagination of Western brands. Evidence spans geographies and sectors: China is now the largest automotive industry market for General Motors after the United States; Asia is the fastest-growing market for luxury goods powerhouse Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey (LVMH) globally. In Australia, education is the second largest “export” industry after tourism, driven by demand from Asia.
The strategic and financial vision of a school must match. Ian Allsop interviews John Tranmer and Erica Below, headteacher and bursar respectively at the Froebelian School, to discover how they manage their working relationship
Although sometimes regarded as the preserve of the bursar, John Tranmer is very much aware of the importance of the headteacher having a firm grip on financial matters. Situated in Horsforth near Leeds, Froebelian School is a “leading independent, co-educational preparatory school for children aged 3 to 11 years”. Its motto “giving a flying start to the citizens of tomorrow” displays a forward-thinking attitude which is reflected in the financial management of the school and has enabled it to offer an excellent staff-pupil ratio, modern facilities and the support of dedicated, highly qualified staff.
In a personal essay, Paul Westbrook discusses his experiences at Brighton College so far, from developments at home and abroad, and gives some insight into what makes the college such a success story
Brighton College is 2011’s Sunday Times Independent School of the Year: the only school of more than 1,000 to deliver five consecutive years of improved rankings in the A level and GCSE Parent Power tables. Its first XV has been unbeaten in Sussex for four years; the school’s reputation for music is first class; pupils’ artwork is used as exemplars by exam boards; and a Hollywood actor has just been appointed to lead drama. The school was also shortlisted for an award at the Independent School Awards 2011.
Consultation counts in the costs
Durell Barnes explains how ISI’s consultation process produced extensive feedback, which included points about the costs of inspection that have been taken on board
The shelf-life of the new inspections was, as predicted, shorter than even the four-year cycle which preceded it. ISI hopes that Government policy on inspection will enable the Integrated Inspection framework to last for a full six years from January 2012. The Coalition Government is committed to a reduction in red tape: the National Minimum Standards [NMS] (for boarding schools) have been streamlined from September 2011; the review of the Early Years Foundation Stage [EYFS] appears to be going in a similar direction, with changes from September 2012; and the Independent School Standards Regulations will hopefully be similarly streamlined before September 2012 in line with recently issued guidance from DfE.
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Facing the future
Helen Tucker takes a look at the issues affecting the sector and considers what practical steps can be taken to minimise risk and make sure schools are prepared for the future
The current economic situation and political agenda are presenting challenges for independent schools. Inevitably, the recession has resulted in some parents being unable to continue to pay school fees, and some schools experiencing difficulties in debt collection. A number of independent schools have sought to limit fee increases as much as possible to retain pupils and the goodwill of parents. When schools already operate on tight financial margins, these factors can quickly have a significant impact. In addition, some schools have seen an increase in parents challenging the provision they have received, disputing bills or raising formal complaints linked to a request for a reduction in fees. This can be very costly, not only in terms of cashflow, but also in terms of management time in dealing with any issues raised.
Free schools revolution will fail without profit-making schools
The success of the Government’s school reforms depends on a large increase in the number of good school places. But the free schools programme, as currently constituted, will not be able to deliver this, according to a new report
New research suggests that the only way the Government will be able to meet its targets for new schools and extra school places is by allowing profit-making schools to participate in the free schools programme.
The Government’s proposal to cut pension provision is the biggest threat to the teaching profession for 30 years. Teachers and support staff face the prospect of paying more and working longer, writes John Richardson
With the publication of Lord Hutton’s review of public service pensions in March 2011, the implications for the independent sector are far worse than feared. Lord Hutton is proposing that they should no longer be part of the pension scheme.
Cuts and bruises
The recession continues to bite in the independent school sector, but how does it affect the common room? ATL carried out a survey of its members in October 2010 to gauge the effects. John Richardson reveals the results
ATL surveyed 1,365 members working as teachers, heads, bursars and support staff in independent schools on their pay and conditions and the health of their schools.
Collaboration with non-independent schools has boosted results, enriched pupils’ learning and enhanced teaching opportunities in the US and globally. Patrick Bassett highlights a few of the successful programmes
All independent schools strive to offer their students a high-quality education. Many aspire to make a positive imprint on the larger community as well, modelling the behaviour that they hope to see in students. In the US, we refer to this as the “public purpose of private education”. The ways each school achieves this outcome varies, but in many cases it involves collaboration with other schools.
A different tune
There may be trouble ahead, but as your school prepares to face the music, there could be many opportunities for it to consider and strengthen its position. Simon Shneerson explains how to up your tempo
We live in a new world, where middle-class family finances will never be the same. In the short-term, parents will face increasing pressure on their jobs and finances, something most schools are sensitive to and are dealing with in one way or another.
Learning outside the classroom is an important part of children’s educational experience and a key part of this is taking pupils to a residential outdoor education centre. Jake Anders and Bill Brown outline key considerations to assess the quality of the centre
Organising a trip to an outdoor education centre should involve two elements: choosing a centre which offers a high level of educational value, tailored to your school’s needs and ensuring high standards in welfare, health and safety. It is also important that visits to outdoor education centres have an important emphasis on the middle word of this descriptor. There is a temptation to view them as a break from school life, but they should also be integrated into the curriculum.
ATL Pay & Conditions Survey 2009
While a third of independent schools is finding the recession tough-going, a third is riding the storm and a third is thriving, according to an Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) survey, reports John Richardson
Thirty-one per cent of independent school teachers said pupil numbers have fallen in their school for this academic year, reports an ATL survey of 1,422 teaching staff and 148 support staff working in independent schools around the UK. However, a third said their school has more pupils and 31 per cent have the same number of pupils.
The Charity Commission’s first public benefit reports have received wide coverage in the press. The initial shocked reaction has subsided. But the consequences of the findings could be serious, as Sam Macdonald reports
Three charities were judged to be failing to meet the test, and these included one care home charity and two independent schools. (A fourth, another care home, was deemed not to be operating within its objects, and so failed to get out of the public benefit starting blocks.) All are fee-charging charities, and it is the impact of fee-charging on accessibility that attracted most of the commission’s attention. In this article, we shall look at the independent schools, although the same principles were applied to the care homes and will be relevant to all charities that charge “high” fees (meaning, according to the commission, fees that “many” people could not afford).
The green shoots
Independent schools in the UK can bounce back from the effects of the current recession, according to a new assessment of likely developments over the next two decades. Dick Davison reports
The Independent Sector Report 2010, the second comprehensive overview from mtmconsulting of the health of a sector now worth £7billion annually, predicts that independent schools will recover strongly from the downturn.
Alternatives to redundancy
When times are tough, sometimes redundancy is the only option available for cutting costs, reports Steve Peacock
The current economic difficulties have impacted not only the banking and business sectors, but all areas of society too, and that includes the education sector. Independent schools are neither vast commercial operations that can draw on internal resources to see them through nor are they reliant on public funding – and so have been doubly affected by the financial crisis. The most prevalent problem facing heads and the management of independent schools is that a depressed economy and the wave of redundancies that have inevitably followed have led to decreased numbers of pupils attending leading, of course, to reduced funding.
Living within your means
In the second of his series of articles on future challenges facing the independent schools sector, former HMC chairman Nigel Richardson looks at strategies of positioning and at how the sector should market itself better
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, whereas familiarity is said to breed contempt. Abroad, UK independent schools are a widespread source of admiration. Yet at home they are often under attack from people who blame them for the loss of social mobility in this country – even though opinion polls continue to show huge electoral support both for independent and for state grammar schools.
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Recent headlines announcing closures of independent schools have made sobering reading. Adrian Pashley advises on a plan of action
The next few years are likely to be difficult for charitable independent schools, particularly those that are single-sex schools facing local competition from a wide selection of schools in the same catchment area and are located in glorious (if impractical) historic buildings.
The public benefit requirements are exercising independent schools throughout the land. There is, of course, no one-size-fits-all solution. David Sewell and Sam Macdonald review the options and assess their viability
The long-awaited public benefit guidance, which had been promised for October 2007, was finally published by the Charity Commission in January 2008. This followed consultation on the draft guidance (reviewed in the October 2007 edition of this publication). The guidance links with the new rules brought in under the Charities Act 2006. These require all charities to demonstrate that their aims are for the public benefit, rather than that fact being presumed, as previously was the case for those charities advancing education, religion, or relieving poverty.
Opening the doors
The Charity Commission’s draft public benefit guidance emphasises the need for charitable schools to be imaginative in how they demonstrate it. Barney Northover suggests doing this through closer collaboration with state schools
The Charity Commission suggests a non-exhaustive list of suitable activities for public benefit and advises schools to “pick and mix” from this menu or come up with other ways of contributing to their local communities.
Facing the future?
What are the key strategic and financial issues facing independent schools over the coming years? A recent survey reveals the signposts to forthcoming trends. Dick Davison provides an overview of the key findings
Schools had just got the autumn term started when the story broke. “Private schools are warned on fees”, the headlines screamed: “Private schools must cut fees or risk going out of business”, “Middle class ‘priced out of independent schools’”.
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Under the spotlight
These are challenging times for independent schools. Robert Boyd explains why an understanding of the school’s business model and how it responds to the market is crucial to strategic planning and survival
For many years, independent schools have concentrated on the school development plan, but have often overlooked the business model and strategic planning for the business.
Taking the blows
Although the latest ISC figures show that pupil numbers at independent schools remain stable, not all parts of the sector are in rude health, write Karl Deakin and Barney Northover. But what should struggling schools do?
Whether due to the wider economic slowdown or the changing patterns of demand from discerning parents, at least some schools are experiencing a fall in pupil numbers. All schools need, of course, to balance their own increasing fuel and food costs (not to mention salary increases) with the need to keep fees affordable for parents.
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Going for broke
Prevailing market conditions might offer your school the opportunity to expand its roll at the expense of a competitor. But what are the benchmarks to confirm the wisdom of this strategy? Simon Shneerson reports
For many years, one of the hallmarks of the independent education sector was that its schools had better premises, facilities and resources than the maintained sector. Last year’s ISC Census showed that in 2006 its member schools invested more than £700 million in capital expenditure, about half of which went on new buildings. Some of these buildings will have replaced older ones, but ISC also reports that £164 million was spent on improving existing buildings.
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A “perfect” timetable would enable a school to run smoothly and at optimal efficiency. But how do you recognise it when you have it? Dale Bragg reports on the trials and tribulations of getting there
If your timetable appears to be running smoothly, how do you know if it is running as efficiently as possible and that you’ve captured that elusive thing: the perfect timetable?
A marriage of minds
Changing circumstances are prompting many independent schools to consider mergers and acquisitions. Robert Boyd urges schools to review their current business model to anticipate future needs and impacts
Merger activity between independent schools has reached unprecedented levels during the last twelve months. Some of the reasons for this are highlighted in the ISC Census 2006: parental concerns about the relentless rise in fees, cost pressures from the rise in state sector salaries, the demographic downturn, stronger competition from state schools, and the extent of reliance on overseas pupils.
Governing bodies of some single-sex schools are reviewing the possibility of switching to co-educational provision. For some, it is for financial necessity; for others, public benefit is the driving factor, writes Henrietta Newman
The process of considering when an educational charity with objects confined to benefiting one sex seeks to broaden those objects to benefit both sexes is a sensitive and potentially controversial area that requires careful thought and management.
Heads and bursars know that there are unavoidable pressures that will always demand that the school must tightly control its costs. Sam Macdonald, Jonathan Eley and Kit Brown report on radical strategies
In certain sub-sectors, the pressure on costs is more keenly felt than ever before. As a consequence, many schools are considering the economic advantages of a merger or other form of collaboration. Joining forces and centralising certain functions undoubtedly have their economic advantages.
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Working with state schools brings public benefit opportunities, but carries elements of financial and reputational risks for independent schools. David Sewell and Stephen Fisher analyse the implications of sponsoring academies
Academies (independently governed state-maintained schools with open entry policies) are now part of the educational landscape. At the time of writing, there are 83 in existence and schools minister, Lord Adonis, has recently stated that the Government will have “no difficulty” in going beyond 400. An academy’s sponsors supply expertise and, potentially, funding. They have a key role to play in the governance of the new schools, in setting their goals and in ensuring community involvement.
A matter of trust
Some independent schools are considering sponsorship of academies; Charity Commission guidance on public benefit supports this. However, trust schools represent a more interesting proposition, writes Chris Billington
The first academies opened in September 2002 and there are plans for 230 academies by 2010. However, sponsors have been required to establish a £2 million endowment fund. From July this year, the funding commitment has been relaxed, although not completely removed, for those that can demonstrate a successful track record in running schools.
Haileybury has joined the ranks of British independent schools setting up a franchise school overseas. Here we profile the school’s progress towards signing the contract, plus former bursar Martin Halsall reveals his key tips
On 23 September 2007, Haileybury signed an agreement with the Kazakhstan-based international firm of developers, Capital Partners, to support a new school in Kazakhstan, to be known as Haileybury Almaty.
Funding: small schools
A diversity of schools and more choice for parents can lead to funding tribulations… writes John Hipshon
Education should be built around values and an individual’s needs. Government will only fund schools of a certain type – that is to say, the ones that they control.
Off the ground
Funding for a new sports surface or facility should always be invested with care and consideration, step by step. Mike Abbott sets out the ten rules to ensure that your project comprehensively fulfils its brief
1 use appropriate professional advice
Depending on the scale of project, there is a large number of specialist advisers who should become involved in different stages of the project, from the production of feasibility studies and funding applications, through to the technical, legal and health and safety disciplines for planning, design and construction. The project team may also need to involve or consult a variety of interested people, such as end-users, club committees, sports governing bodies, local authorities etc, and so the importance of effective communication is paramount.
The plan of action
Strategic considerations for sports builds run much wider than general practical considerations. To enable you to navigate the key issues, follow this technical guidance supplied from Sport England and the Sports and Play Construction Association
It is important to undertake an extensive strategic planning analysis to ensure that the proposed facilities meet the needs of the school and wider community, particularly with reference to public benefit considerations, income generation and marketing opportunities to prospective parents.
Going for gold
When installing sports centres at independent schools, there are a number of critical factors that can mean the difference between success and failure. John Cadman profiles three projects that took the time to get the brief right
A new £11.2 million Centre for Sports and Media at Tonbridge School was officially opened by Olympic champion and chair of the London 2012 Organising Committee Board, Lord Coe, in June 2008. The project at this top UK independent boy’s school was funded by the school with assistance from the Tonbridge School Foundation.
Profile of Notre Dame School
Notre Dame School, a foundation of The Company of Mary Our Lady, in Cobham, Surrey, is an independent Catholic day school for girls
In its current form, Notre Dame School has been running since 2003, but is actually part of a long line of educational establishments that were founded in the 17th century by The Company of Mary Our Lady, the oldest recognised educational order in the world. The school had been run by nuns with no governors, but was part of the order's charity.