Education conference takes reality check

The third annual Cheltenham College Education Conference focused on economic and market factors affecting the independent sector

Attended by upwards of 100 of the country’s head teachers and bursars, this year’s conference, held on January 30, was entitled: ‘Tomorrow’s numbers in today’s recession – future proofing your school in the current climate”.

Speakers included leading sector education commentators Mungo Dunnett of Mungo Dunnett Associates and Tim Baines of Baines Cutler Solutions.

Delegates heard that, in spite of the economic turmoil of the past six years, the size of the independent education sector had been maintained with nearly half a million pupils continuing to attend independent schools.

However, key messages also included the harsh reality that the affordability of school fees is increasingly becoming an issue for hard-pressed families, leading parents to demand better quality of education and value for money.

Other issues under debate were key determinants of quality such as the calibre of the head teacher and teaching staff, the pastoral care provided and the breadth of sports and co-curricular provision. The Conference also heard that parents are increasingly expecting better communication, more personal attention, and better preparation for university and careers from their children’s independent schools.

As a parting statement, head teachers and bursars were left with the message that the most successful independent schools of the future will be those that listen to parents and respond most effectively to their concerns and expectations.

Preparation for next year’s conference is already well underway.