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haysmacintyre Independent Schools' Conference

4th February 2016

haysmacintyre’s 23rd annual independent schools’ conference took place at Drapers’ Hall yesterday and was attended by approximately 150 governors, heads, bursars and representatives from the sectors’ main associations.

The key note speaker was Tony Little, Chief Academic Officer of GEMS and Hon President of the Boarding Schools Association who spoke on the internationalisation of UK independent schools. Tony discussed the current and future demand from overseas for places in UK boarding and day schools as well as the growing number of overseas campuses linked to UK schools and the range of models being used. Tony considered the risks as well as the returns of such ventures and provided alternative options based on his experience as headmaster of Eton.

Our second speaker was Julie Robinson, General Secretary of the ISC who gave us a comprehensive review of the challenges facing independent schools and which ISC is responding to. The scope of her address covered inspections, teacher recruitment, affordability, safeguarding and compliance, and the image of our schools with politicians and the Press.  She noted that schools must be bold and unapologetic about the greatness of our sector and she encouraged schools to enter the details of their partnership projects onto the ISC’s ‘Schools Together’ website.

In the afternoon Sam Coutinho, one of our six audit and advisory partners in our Schools group, provided guidance on how schools could report the impact they are making in the statutory financial statements, as well as on their website and in their prospectus. Sam highlighted the charity sector’s recent experience with impact reporting and noted that the focus should be on our achievements and whether or not they are measurable. 

We concluded with a new double act, welcoming back professor Joe Nellis of Cranfield School of Management who this year was joined by Dave Waters, Executive Director of Coutts. Joe was upbeat about the current state of the UK economy with the exception of the CBI’s business confidence index which dipped in the last quarter and he drew attention to the risks represented by the “clouds that were forming on the horizon”.  

Dave gave us a comprehensive summary of the factors that a banker takes into account when considering whether to lend to a school and this session would have been particularly appreciated by those recently appointed to their schools. It was a wide-ranging and informative session to complete an enjoyable and thought provoking day.

To download the slides from the day, please click the download button.


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