Introducing ‘Brand Britain’

Sponsored: Tim Wilbur looks at how UK independent schools can work with international markets

It is now very commonplace for British schools to undertake visits to key overseas markets such as the UAE and China to help with their marketing and recruitment. However, travelling around the world making detailed arrangements can be challenging, especially when dealing with different cultures, languages and logistics. It is, therefore, no surprise that many schools choose to work with local partners to simplify arrangements and to maximise results. 

British independent education is revered not only in the UK but around the world. ‘Brand Britain’ has never been as strong as it is now when it comes to education. The desire to work with investors and educators to transform lives remains a driving force and we should always be prepared to work collaboratively to improve results. 

Understanding local cultures and regulations, as well as having staff on the ground is paramount in navigating through global waters. However, we are very aware that a number of schools are being over-promised by partners or agents. It is therefore vital for schools to be mindful when selecting their partners to avoid any disappointment or a potential disaster.

The expectations from overseas providers has grown in recent years. Much of the original demand was for franchising ‘named’ UK schools to guarantee a strong ethos, educational excellence and an advertising advantage. There is now a growing demand for ‘partner’ schools where the overseas investor is seeking a genuine educational partnership above and beyond any financial relationship.

Tim Wilbur

Investing in a new school build, or acquiring an established school, is not for the fainthearted; even more so when working in international markets. Experienced and qualified educational professionals are essential and should be engaged early on in the process. A good educational consultant will consider all aspects of the process, from the creation of the curriculum to regulatory requirements, architectural plans and financial projections.

Our consultants, who have a great deal of experience in helping new and established schools around the world, will tell you that there is much we can learn from each other too. For example, the Chinese may envy the breadth of our curriculum and the quality of our teaching methods, we should remain in awe of their superior approach to teaching maths across all age groups and their celebration of the benefits of accessing a good education.

Likewise, the UAE as a global centre for innovation and education should be celebrated as we continue to grow and develop the provision of world-class education and the opportunities it provides.

Based in London, Gabbitas Education has international offices in Dubai, Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Hong Kong. For more information visit

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