About these sessions

These webinars – and the masterclass sessions which preceded them – allow our enormous data set and practical experience of schools’ strategic issues to be brought to bear on the various issues being faced by Britain’s independent schools.

The webinars are delivered personally by Mungo Dunnett, sometimes in collaboration with an industry expert.

Each session is limited to 25 participants. The webinars are structured as lectures, although delegates are invited to ask questions via the Chat function, and Mungo is happy to stay online after the 60 minute webinar to address these – or to have a telephone call separately to expand on any issue in privacy.

As these webinars invariably sell out, there is a maximum of two delegates per school, and it is important to book early. Since these webinars began in November 2020 they have been attended by over 1,600 delegates.

 

2023-2024 agenda

 

 

THE MAIN SCHOOL MODEL CHANGES

 

  • Deciding whether it is time to change: assembling a robust view of your local market, the reason for your current commercial position, and your realistic room for manoeuvre; good and bad practice in governors’ decision-making
  • Going co-ed, and its variants: straight from single sex to co-ed; going to diamond model; going from diamond (or co-ed Sixth Form) to full co-ed. Preparatory management information, messaging and success criteria
  • Mergers and acquisitions, and their variants: Preps seeking Senior School white knight; Senior School seeking Prep feeder; joining a group; foreign & VC investment; a merger between local competitors. In each instance, good and bad practice, pitfalls and success criteria
  • Preps going to 16+: essential management information, good and bad practice, success criteria
  • The spectator’s due diligence: local markets now functioning as a zero-sum game competing for a declining overall market; why successful schools with stable models therefore still need to plan for their competitors’ changes, whether to protect their own market share or benefit from their competitors’ ill-judged move

 

This 75-minute session was delivered on the following dates:

 

Tuesday 21 May 2024, 2.00-3.15pm

Tuesday 4 June 2024, 2.00-3.15pm

Wednesday 5 June 2024, 6.00-7.15pm

Thursday 6 June 2024, 2.00-3.15pm

 

 

GOVERNORS’ ANNUAL BRIEFING

 

  • The Market: why parents choose independent schools and what pressures they face.   The critical consideration – your actual parent types: the main parent types in the independent school sector, and what they expect from your schools
  • New ISI inspection framework: the significant implications for governors – and the ambiguities surrounding this
  • Facing financial challenges: TPS, VAT and MBRR; challenging the business model; driving efficiencies
  • VAT and emerging patterns: the link between school price point and your parents’ exposure to VAT
  • All change: patterns of change in the sector, and what these mean for good governance
  • Doing the unthinkable: changing the model; charity mergers; transfer/sale to a group; joint ventures; success criteria; what typically happens in each instance, and how things often go wrong
  • The role of governance: quality of governance – what is agile, proactive and effective governance? Promoting the right culture
  • Organising for success: team working, skills and experience to set direction; alternative governance models and tailored plan-do-review cycles; evidence, internal audit, and assurance
  • The role of governance: quality of governance – what is agile, proactive and effective governance? Promoting the right culture
  • Governance and leadership: the governors and the executive; challenges and opportunities; headship as leadership; providing support for, monitoring progress by, and holding to account, school leaders; managing difficult relationships
  • Local issues: the role of good governance in handling local issues. Addressing risk in an uncertain world; complaints; crises; leading change; grasping the nettle

 

This one-hour session will be delivered on the following dates:

 

Tuesday 14 May 2024, 6.00-7.00pm

Wednesday 15 May 2024, 2.00-3.00pm

Agenda

 

 

THE CHATGPT REVOLUTION: WHAT IT MEANS FOR PUPILS’ FUTURE WORKING LIVES

 

  • What ‘generative AI’ is and how it works; what it can do; ChatGPT and the other major players
  • This is not just a ‘techy’ thing: how it works in the space between IT and everyday tasks; why everybody will need awareness of both
  • UK employers’ varying reactions per sector and organisational culture: vetoes, adoption, blithe ignorance
  • Broad predicted impacts: expected speed of employment transformation; greatest areas of job losses vs job creation
  • Implications for independent sector pupils entering the 20-something workplace: recruitment patterns, and likely alterations in the next 3 – 5 years
  • Winners and losers (1): jobs vs tasks, and the roles most susceptible to AI-driven upheaval
  • The opportunity for schools: the importance of demonstrating the relevance and value of our product in a VAT-threatened sector; ways of preparing pupils for the new AI-led employment world

 

This one-hour session was delivered on the following dates:

 

Tuesday 14 November 2023, 2.00-3.00pm

Wednesday 15 November 2023, 6.00-7.00pm

Thursday 16 November 2023, 2.00-3.00pm

Monday 20 November 2023, 2.00-3.00pm

 

 

THE CHALLENGES OF PARENTAL ENGAGEMENT

 

  • Consumerist parents and the rise in complaints post-pandemic
  • Stakeholder engagement and relationship management: illustrations from the corporate world
  • The issues faced by independent schools in 2023/24
  • What are parents looking for in a school?
  • Why are parents choosing your school?
  • How parental choices drive parental engagement
  • How to approach parent/school conflict
  • Handling serious breakdowns in parental engagement
  • Parental perfectionism and its impact on staff and offspring
  • Better understanding parental predisposition

 

This one-hour session was delivered on the following dates:

 

Monday 9 October 2023, 2.00-3.00pm

Tuesday 10 October 2023, 6.00-7.00pm

Wednesday 11 October 2023, 2.00-3.00pm

 

 

2022-2023 agenda

 

 

 

IN THE EYE OF THE STORM: EFFECTIVE GOVERNANCE FOR INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS

 

  • The Macro: the frog in hot water. Threats and opportunities; inflation, running costs, TPS, tax changes
  • The Market: why parents choose independent schools and what pressures they face. The critical consideration – your actual parent types: the main parent types in the independent school sector, and what they expect from your schools
  • All change: patterns of change in the sector, and what these mean for good governance
  • Doing the unthinkable: changing the model; charity mergers; transfer/sale to a group; joint ventures; success criteria; what typically happens
  • Good governance: the characteristics of proactive, effective governance; organising for success; team working, skills and experience to set direction; evidence, internal audit, assurance, and an appropriate plan-do-review cycle; providing support for, monitoring progress by, and holding to account, school leaders
  • Local issues: the role of good governance in handling local issues within a school; addressing risk in an uncertain world; leading change; grasping the nettle; managing difficult relationships
  • Rising to the challenge: the characteristics of those schools where good governance contributes to sustainable success
  • You are not alone: learning from others; where to go for advice and help

 

This one-hour session was delivered on the following dates:

 

Tuesday 27 June 2023, 6.00-7.00pm

Wednesday 28 June 2023, 2.00-3.00pm

 

 

THE CHALLENGE FOR GIRLS’ SCHOOLS

 

  • Why parents choose girls’ schools: strengths and perceptions working in girls’ schools’ favour
  • Why parents choose co-education: perceptions, misperceptions and realities; what ACTUALLY are the differences between girls’ schools and co-eds?
  • Dealing with prevalent weaknesses: the tendency of girls’ schools to attract (and foster) unhelpful behaviour
  • The critical consideration – your actual parent types: the main parent types in the independent school sector, and where they appear (or don’t appear) in different girls’ schools
  • Patterns of consolidation: acceleration in tendency for girls’ schools to attract particular parent types; and how the girls’ school market separates into these school types
  • Creating young women ready for success: the characteristics of success and failure for female 20-somethings in the workplace, and girls’ schools’ role in addressing these
  • Doing the unthinkable – going co-ed: what typically happens; success criteria
  • Rising to the challenge: the characteristics of those girls’ schools best combatting the co-ed challenge

 

This one-hour session was delivered on the following dates:

 

Friday 19 May 2023, 2.00-3.00pm

Tuesday 23 May 2023, 2.00-3.00pm

Wednesday 24 May 2023, 6.00-7.00pm

 

 

STATE OF THE NATION: WHAT IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING TO THE SECTOR?

 

  • How parents are responding to recessionary pressures: patterns of stability and instability evidenced in pipeline behaviour since September
  • The immediate cost challenges: post-Brexit inflation, Business Rates Relief, energy costs – the actual numbers, and the scale of the challenge
  • Deconstructing the Labour threat: the scale of the challenge; threats vs realistic likelihood; actual exposure to parents’ declining affordability
  • Commercial impact of the cost and income challenges: likely duration and sequential effect of recession on the sector; which schools and parent types are most affected; the weak vs the strong; the lucky vs the unlucky
  • Managing cost reductions: most fruitful avenues to explore; maintaining staff morale whilst reducing cost; ring-fencing vital quality determinants
  • Outlook on TPS: reasons why schools remain in; case studies of successful vs botched exits
  • Managing fee setting: lessons in elasticity; unexpected room for manoeuvre
  • Lessons in leadership: the importance of confidence when keeping stakeholders on board

 

This one-hour session was delivered on nine separate occasions:

 

Monday 30 January 2023, 2.00-3.00pm

Tuesday 31 January 2023, 2.00-3.00pm

Thursday 2 February 2023, 2.00-3.00pm

Thursday 9 February 2023, 2.00-3.00pm

Monday 27 February 2023, 2.00-3.00pm

Tuesday 28 February 2023, 6.00-7.00pm

Wednesday 1 March 2023, 6.00-7.00pm

Thursday 2 March 2023, 2.00-3.00pm

Monday 6 March 2023, 2.00-3.00pm

 

 

HOW MARKETING IN INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS ACTUALLY WORKS

 

  • How parents are currently buying private education: how the market has changed; the impact of affordability and economic concerns on buying behaviour; the fragmentation of the cohesive parent body; the main parent types, and how they approach the process of selecting a school
  • The consideration set: identifying your school’s real battleground
  • Management Information: your most important tool – and its political importance within the school
  • The questions to ask, and the ‘full picture’ to assemble: building a marketing strategy that recognises the school’s weaknesses, its reputation and its place in the local market
  • Wasting money: the activities that schools and their marketing suppliers utilise, and why many activities that work in other sectors will not work with schools
  • Social media: how it actually works, and which elements should be using (or not)
  • The two critical roles of schools marketers: the expertise for which marketers should be (and should be expected to be) invaluable

 

This one-hour session was delivered on four separate occasions:

 

Tuesday 29 November 2022, 2.00-3.00pm

Thursday 1 December 2022, 2.00-3.00pm

Monday 5 December 2022, 6.00-7.00pm

Tuesday 6 December 2022, 2.00-3.00pm

 

 

EMPLOYMENT, SUCCESS AND HAPPINESS: PRODUCING YOUNG ADULTS WHO THRIVE

 

  • How the model has gone wrong: the dependency on league tables and exam results, and how it is perpetuated by new and anxious parents behaviours, and in particular by ‘Mr & Mrs Get the Grades’
  • The new job market: fluidity, models of employment and self-employment, and the skills and attitudes necessary for success in the C21 workplace
  • Stress and conflicting agendas: what our education model is doing to teenagers, and the outcomes
  • The university mismatch: what HEIs are inclined (and instructed) to focus upon; and why it is left to schools, not universities, to prepare leavers for the workplace
  • Patterns of success and failure: the behavioural types most apparent amongst early-20s in the workplace, and the ways in which young adults have not been adequately prepared
  • What employers say: how dissatisfaction with new recruits is altering their recruitment criteria
  • The traits and practices employers want: examples of behaviours suited to the new job market; what employers call ‘business intelligence’
  • Commercial defence: how schools can utilise an ’employability’ approach to combat the narrowing access to Russell Group, and alleviate parental concern about independent schools’ value for money

 

This one-hour session was delivered on three separate occasions:

 

Monday 7 November 2022, 2.00-3.00pm

Tuesday 8 November 2022, 2.00-3.00pm

Wednesday 9 November 2022, 6.00-7.00pm

 

 

THE PROVISION OF SPORT

 

  • Why have a sports programme: cultural and developmental benefits; the rounded pupil; maintained sector weakness
  • The rising commercial importance of sport: alteration in type of parents choosing the sector and in their expectations
  • The structure: Saturday school; fitting sport into the overall curriculum; priority sports vs. ‘minor’ sports
  • Facilities: expectations vs. dangers of overspend; white elephants; how good do facilities need to be?
  • Staffing: Directors of Sport – should you have one? ; professional coaches brought in; coaching down the card
  • Competitive vs. non-competitive sport; misapprehensions and conflicting agendas
  • Accommodating changing gender priorities: mixed boy/girl sport; the impact of the Lionesses
  • Creating an environment for breadth: offering a range of opportunity without penalising quality
  • Scholarships: should you have them for sport?
  • Communications: how poor communication lets PE departments down
  • Sport and the Covid period: unsuccessful responses to Covid pressures on sports provision

 

This one-hour session was delivered on three separate occasions:

 

Monday 10 October 2022, 2.00-3.00pm

Tuesday 11 October 2022, 6.00-7.00pm

Thursday 13 October 2022, 2.00-3.00pm