Blog by Dick Davison, Head of Strategic Services
With the UK heading inexorably, it seems, for another recession and the economic news unremittingly gloomy, we all need a bit of good news.
So full marks to Andrew Maiden, publisher of Funding for Independent Schools (http://www.fismagazine.co.uk), who had the good idea a couple of years ago of launching the sector’s own awards event to give some recognition to enterprise, imagination, energy and leadership in independent schools.
The second annual Independent School Awards event was held a couple of weeks ago, at the National Motorcycle Museum, Birmingham, and a very upbeat affair it was, celebrating some remarkable achievements.
Like Kilgraston School in Perthshire, for example. Ten years ago Kilgraston, one of that apparently endangered species, the small, rural girls’ boarding school, would have been high on most people’s lists of schools unlikely to survive. When the current principal, Michael Farmer, took over in 2004, the roll stood at an all-time low of just over 200 and the boarding was barely half-full.
Seven years later, low-cost adaptation of existing plant has given the school new facilities, the school is full, with 340 pupils, and has seen an 80% increase in boarding numbers to 150. A worthy winner of the night’s top award, independent school of the year.
Or take New Hall School, in Essex, reported to be the fastest-growing independent school in the country. The first girls’ school to adopt the ‘diamond’ model in admitting boys, New Hall has doubled its roll from 580 to 1,150 in five years – and doubled its boarding numbers too.
What these and the other award-winners have in common is outstanding leadership, vision and the courage to take the long, strategic view when others are content simply to repeat the annual routine. If you are thinking about how to ensure your school survives the next difficult few years, or believe it should be re-shaping itself in response to new demands and expectations, mtmconsulting’s strategic advice can help. We have been supporting schools making these sort of decisions for over a quarter of a century now.
Oh, and an Oscar for Andrew for having such a good idea.