INDEPENDENT EXECUTIVE MAY/JUNE 2012
Making a name for yourself The ins and outs of expanding your schoolâ€™s brand
Lean on me
Building pastoral support in boarding schools
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How the shape of the classroom makes all the difference to how pupils learn
News Why independent schools are more confident about the future
Advice Staying strong Legal advice to schools on the verge of financial difficulties MARKETING AND DEVELOPMENT
12 Branding Making a name for yourself The ins and outs of expanding your school’s brand – nationally and abroad 16 Advice Feeling charitable A guide to help private schools maintain charitable status PROCURE AND PLAN
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Independent Executive, brought to you by the publishers of Education Executive, is a bi-monthly magazine that supports business and financial excellence in the modern UK independent school – whether it be fee-paying, an academy or a free school. Every issue features a host of original editorial content aimed at bursars, headteachers, finance directors and development officers and focused on issues to do with the financial and administrative management of a school.
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20 Premises Space age How the shape of a classroom can make all the difference to learning 24 Analysis Get up and go Using sport to put some pep into a tired curriculum 30 Advice Academies and the EU The issues that academies must address when procuring new contracts 32 Advice Have safety will travel Top tips on booking a safe trip abroad MANAGEMENT 34 Interview Happy together The new head of the GDST talks staying power after 140 years 36 Advice Lean on me Building pastoral support in boarding schools ICT MATTERS 38 Overview Technology on the move What wizzy gadgets schools should be investing in 42 Advice How secure is your data? A look at tougher new penalties for breaching data protection laws 44 Techno Geek Tweet, tweet, retweet Top tweeting tips for schools INSPIRED MINDS
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46 Case study An education in business The secrets to how Glyndwr University stays forward-thinking and out of debt 50 Diary Jazzing it up Jazz Rose, principal of J&C Academy, talks kung fu
ne of the most invigorating and satisfying things about being a magazine editor, particularly in such a complex field as education, is you are given a chance to encourage debate and conversation among your readers. It was with this in mind that I was glad to hear a few readers had quite a strong reaction to our articles on single sex education in the last issue; it seems this topic sparks quite the heated to-and-fro between those who would see single sex eradicated and those who believe it is important to teaching and learning. While we would emphasise that we reserve the right to run comment or opinion that is not necessarily our own (that’s part and parcel of journalism), there was some comment in our last issue, particularly what was said by Jane Prescott, headmistress of Portsmouth High School, in the article titled ‘The girls’ guide’ (March/April 2012), which caused a few of our readers from co-ed schools to speak up in defence of boys. In the article she stated that “boys are boisterous, noisy and they want to show off much more than girls naturally do”, which she believes means teachers inevitably teach to boys and girls are left out. A.J. Thould, headmaster of the co-educational King Edward VI School in Southampton wrote in to say that a comment like this “fosters a dated stereotype and borders on the sexist” and he believes “it is manifestly untrue”. “Many boys are quiet and studious; many girls are noisy and love attention,” he said. “In our large, very academic fully co-educational independent school performance of boys and girls is evenly matched; students also learn how to manage relationships with each other in an ordered community and are thus much better prepared for the wider challenges they will face when they leave school than is likely in even the best organised single sex environment.” I pointed out in another article on the topic in the same issue, ‘Boys vs. girls’, that what seems to matter most is whether a school is, well, a good school – as there are studies that back the single sex and others in favour of co-ed. One bit of research shows that girls do better without boys, which begs the question, could girls in co-ed schools be doing even better without their male counterparts? What do I think? I believe behavior is not predetermined by biology and gender is a social construct, however, societal pressures do have their impact and the debate continues. What do you think? Get in touch on email@example.com.
Shops on the rise at private schools
OUR LADY’S CONVENT SCHOOL Loughborough POCKLINGTON SCHOOL East Yorkshire
Independent schools across the country are finding success in campus shops
INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS CONFIDENT ABOUT FUTURE Survey reveals most independent schools are not overly concerned about falling pupil numbers A survey of staff in independent schools has revealed that despite the challenging economic climate, most fee-paying schools are not worried about keeping pupil numbers up or the potential competition from statefunded free schools. The survey, which was conducted at Capita’s SIMS Independent Schools’ Conference, showed that over 83% of respondents were either not at all concerned or only slightly concerned about falling pupil numbers. More than 60% of respondents also indicated that they are not concerned about having to compete with free schools to attract pupils. The survey also revealed that: • Of those respondents who were concerned about falling pupil numbers, nearly 50% said their schools were reviewing their marketing activity or modifying their curriculum in response. • Despite a 90% growth in schools offering the International Baccalaureate
Fast facts 83% of independent schools aren’t worried about dwindling numbers 60% not concerned about competing with free schools Of those who are concerned about falling numbers, 50% are reviewing marketing activity 97% of schools have no plans to introduce the international baccalaureate into their school.
worldwide over the last five years, more than 97% of respondents said there were no current plans to introduce it in their schools. • Of those respondents whose schools offer more than one secondary level qualification, over 85% said they were very satisfied with their ability to administer their portfolio of options. Julie Booth, head of independent schools at Capita SIMS, said: “The survey reveals that generally, schools in the independent sector remain optimistic about the future and do not see the new wave of government funded schools as a major threat to their ability to attract the best pupils. “The results suggest that many schools are confident in their ability to deliver educational excellence and bring pupils through their doors, despite the continuing squeeze on household budgets. “We know from speaking to schools that they want to provide as broad a curriculum as possible but juggling staff and pupil timetables can often be a complex undertaking. The results of the survey reveal that over 85% of respondents from schools attended by secondary school aged pupils were very satisfied with their ability to manage a portfolio of options for study. This is good news for both pupils and their parents. “Whatever shape schools take in the future, parents who choose to send their children to a fee-paying school expect them to benefit from the highest standards of teaching and learning. What the survey has shown us is that schools need IT systems and software in place that will help them to target their marketing more effectively and deliver a rich and varied curriculum that will meet the high expectations of parents.”
Our Lady’s Convent School in Loughborough (pictured) and Pocklington School in East Yorkshire are the latest schools to find success in school shops. When OLCS decided to open a shop early last year, they contacted the John Cheatle Group to organise it. Previously, parents had travelled to Schoolwear Solutions at Oadby to buy uniforms and sportswear, a distance of over 10 miles, but having a shop on the school premises proved much more convenient. The new shop provides a secure environment for pupils to try on uniforms and opens at a convenient time for parents too, they say. With till technology and a stock control system, the new school shop runs smoothly, as Sharon Pratt, deputy head (pastoral), commented: “Now parents can order uniforms and sportswear from a dedicated OLCS webpage, and then collect the items when they’re delivered to the school shop. Parents really love this personal touch.” Meanwhile the shop at Pocklington School in East Yorkshire, now managed by Karen Smitheman, who previously helped order the school’s uniform and sports kit requirements when the school ran these itself, comes with a number of key benefits, as Smitheman confirms: “We now have a till that does almost everything for us, plus a card machine so parents can pay quickly and easily – even when they’re not present! I can also hold more stock, which is obviously better for parents.” Uniforms can be tried on by pupils visiting the on-site shop, within the safety of the school, and parents can then pay for the required items by phone or in person. This works particularly well for boarders at Pocklington School.
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ART IN MIND AT THE MAYNARD SCHOOL THE MAYNARD SCHOOL, Exeter
The Maynard School, Exeter held its third art exhibition, titled ‘art-in-mind’, in April, featuring work by more than 100 contemporary national and international artists including Alan Cotton, Ken Howard RA, Luke Piper, Tina Morgan and John Maltby. Paintings, sculpture, ceramics and photography were on display and for sale as
well as some high quality collectables made by British Automata Makers, including Ian McKay, Opi Toys, Jeff Soan and Robert Race. One artist in particular, Stuart Semple, has inspired the organisers to donate 50% of the commission to Mindful, a creative therapies fund that he launched last year under the Mind umbrella. Semple, who has an on-going anxiety disorder himself, understands first-hand the transformative potential of the arts. Helen Reynolds, who coordinated the exhibition, said: “We are particularly thrilled to be showing work by Stuart Semple, who has been described as a ‘modern day Andy Warhol’. Stuart’s project with Mindful, using creative therapies to alleviate mental health issues, particularly resonated with us and we wanted to support Mind’s on-going work in this area.” Maynard set up a dedicated website, www.art-in-mind.co.uk, with information on the artists exhibiting. The remaining funds raised will be donated to an art bursary for talented girls to join the Maynard at sixth-form level.
Royal Hospital School comes up top in horses and courses THE ROYAL HOSPITAL SCHOOL, Holbrook The Royal Hospital School in Holbrook has been coming up trumps lately with it comes to its sporting endeavours. The school took first place at the National Schools Equestrian Association (NSEA) Inter-Schools County Team Show Jumping Championships at The Jays Equestrian Centre near Bury St Edmunds on 11 March. The team consisting of Sophie Ainsworth, 15, Chloe Tribe, 14 and Millie Ainsworth, 13, were the last to go and all three riders completed very stylish clear rounds to go head-to-head with Woodbridge School – the only other team to go clear in the competition. After a very fast jump-off against the clock the Royal Hospital School team emerged victorious, securing first place and becoming County Champions. Pupils at the Royal Hospital School can ride as games option or activity up to four times a week. At the highest level, team and competition coaching take place at Bylam Livery Stables, three miles from the School, under the instruction of experienced horsewoman, Caroline Colwill. Boarders are also able to make full use of the livery services offered here. The Equestrian Team, comprising of both the school squad and CCF riders, compete regularly in regional and NSEA events as well as at the Windsor Horse Show each year. 06 INDEPENDENT EXECUTIVE | MAY/JUNE 2012
Meanwhile, eight Royal Hospital School crews took part in the Thameside 2 race from Reading to Marlow on 4 March. Despite very bad weather, all performed well completing the 18-mile and eight portage race in less than 4 hours. Errol Drummond, 18, and Rhys Evans, 17, set a new school record for this event in two hours and 39 minutes. On 11 March the Devizes to Westminster team took part in the Waterside C race and won the Junior Section. The race was 23 miles long with 35 portages on the Kennet and Avon Canal in Wiltshire. Errol Drummond and Rhys Evans set another school record of three hours and 43 minutes and all the crews finished within five hours. This means that RHS Paddlers are now ranked the top school team in England.
From Hollywood to Canterbury ST EDMUND’S SCHOOL, Canterbury Distinguished writer William Nicholson, whose latest Hollywood screenplay Les Misérables has Russell Crowe and Helena Bonham Carter in the leading roles, helped to celebrate World Book Day on 1 March with an entertaining talk to senior pupils at St Edmund’s School Canterbury. Nicholson, who also wrote the screenplay for another Crowe epic, Gladiator, won a BAFTA for his writing on the TV production of Shadowlands. Nicholson is also known for his works of fiction, with his Wind Singer trilogy a bestseller. However, he revealed it wasn’t until the age of 30, and after eight attempts, did he first get published and spoke candidly about how one must never give up. It was his persistence that landed him his BAFTA award and a string of bestsellers among young and older readers alike. The talk was organised by school librarian Jennifer Pierce who said afterwards: “William Nicholson was a fantastic, lively speaker and drew his audience in with his honest account of the journey to becoming a published author and his expert advice on how to write books, plays and for film. “Feedback from the pupils has been overwhelmingly positive and we all appreciated his humour, candour and frankness when discussing the issues that affect young people today. Mr Nicholson spent considerable time talking to pupils and advising them while signing books and I am certain he has ignited the creativity of a number of budding writers with this inspirational session.”
William Nicholson signs copies of his bestsellers
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Left to right: Milly Ainsworth, Sophie Ainsworth, and Chloe Tribe of the RHS Equestrian Team
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Seaford students down on the Farm
SEAFORD COLLEGE, West Sussex Students from Seaford College took to the stage in a “vibrant and suitably animated” production of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Scott Boarer starred in the principal role of ‘The Boy’ with Max Jukes, Freddie Miller and Will Norton as the three prominent pigs – Napoleon, Squealer and Boxer – while Alex Cornelius took the part of the farmer. Staff and students worked together to produce a set for the three-day production, with Brendan Murphy masterminding the art work and Patrick Robinson in charge of building the set. Paul Griffin and Sebastian Money operated lights and sound. Dr Jane Askew, head of drama at Seaford College, said: “Animal Farm is an allegory of European history through the much of the 20th century and the students rose to the challenge like the proverbial ducks to water. “It was thoroughly enjoyed by all who attended. Well done students!”
Over 500 pupils from Sheffield High School gathered on the school field to take the shape of the Olympic rings. A moving image of the girls, aged eight to 14, forming the interlocking rings can be viewed at http://bit.ly/GCMzhj.
NEW HEAD FOR PACKWOOD HAUGH Packwood Haugh School has appointed Clive Smith-Langridge (pictured with his family) to the post of headmaster, starting in September. Nigel Westlake, the current head, is going to Brambletye School in West Sussex. Smith-Langridge moved into education after 15 years in senior executive roles with major international companies, both at home and overseas. With a clear sense of purpose and passion for education, he went into teaching in 2003. With drive and determination, SmithLangridge became deputy headmaster at Hordle Walhampton School in Hampshire, which followed an epic journey from nonqualified teacher of physical education and games to head of ICT and mathematics; a member of the senior management team and house parent, running the boarding at Cumnor House School in West Sussex. Josh Dixey, chairman of governors at Packwood, said: “Clive brings a wealth of educational, financial and marketing experience to the role of headmaster. A forward-thinking, energetic man, Clive will
provide leadership and strategic vision for the school as we enter this exciting new era. We look forward to welcoming Clive, his wife Sally and two children, Natasha and Rosie to the Packwood School community in September 2012.” Smith-Langridge said he was delighted to be appointed headmaster and looks forward to working with the staff to help implement a “new and dynamic strategic direction” for the school.
DIARY 23 May E-LEARNING FOUNDATION SPRING CONFERENCE 2012 Cavendish Conference Centre, London e-LearningFoundation.com 25 May CAPITA’S INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON PRIMARY ACADEMIES America square conference centre London capitaconferences.co.uk 22 June EDEXEC LIVE Business Design Centre, London EdExecLive.co.uk
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SECTOR > LEGAL
sly u io es. r to ulti o n c e iffi ws is r a d o h s to urr d t void l oo n in k B hin o a h c ru ic be t s w nt hey er N ons ho e t nd if awy eas on e p ive n l e r ice s e t o h v d In cre ati es t ad lem se uc in ers rob Ed am off l p ex d cia an an fin
n the current economic climate, schools, particularly charitable ones, are having to exercise a good deal more care in monitoring their financial situation to ensure that they remain viable and solvent. One of the most important points to bear in mind is that burying one’s head in the sand is not an option – any problems that arise are unlikely to cure themselves. It is crucial to ensure that the most is made of the financial information available to governors. Budgets and forecasts should be reviewed regularly and compared to actual performance. Any divergences should be examined closely, and remedial action should be taken quickly. In straitened circumstances, ‘cash is king’ and cash flow should be monitored extremely carefully.
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SECTOR > LEGAL
In addition to monitoring the finances of the school diligently, it is also sensible to ensure that the school’s bank is kept informed of developments and of the school’s expected position. If there is likely to be a need for additional facilities then it is important to make sure that the bank knows that as far in advance as possible. A bank that feels its customer is aware of its position and is planning properly for any expected shortfalls is far more likely be accommodating than one that feels its customer is ‘ambushed’ by events. Similarly, if cash constraints indicate that it may be difficult for any school occupying leasehold property to make rental payments, then it is important to talk to the landlord as soon as possible. It may be possible to negotiate either a reduction in the rent, or a rental holiday for a period. Landlords are also generally amenable to accepting rent on a monthly, rather than quarterly, basis, to assist cash-flow.
Given that many schools are encountering the same problems, it might be the case that a closer association, or even merger, between two schools may benefit both of them Contracts that the school has entered into and services that it provides should both be reviewed regularly and, where appropriate, services should be put out to tender to obtain the most competitive quote. It may make economic sense to outsource some of the services currently provided in-house by the school. Equally, it is important that the supplier chosen is one that is able to provide ‘best value’ rather than simply being the cheapest. It is however important to bear in mind that outsourcing contracts can be complex and need careful review and advice. There can be unforeseen consequences hidden within the wording of some contracts that can make them most unattractive. Although many of the overheads for schools are fixed, it is nonetheless possible to review the provision of, for instance, utilities and to change suppliers where this can provide an economic advantage. One area that should be given serious consideration is the marketing budget. Given that an effectively used marketing budget should generate income for the school in the short- to medium-term, it may be unwise to make cuts to that budget if to do so may have the consequence of reducing future income. Governors should review the reserves policy of the school as it may be possible to ‘dip in’ to the reserves to cover short-term requirements. The school will need to be proactive in ensuring that fees are paid promptly. It is important to look out for signs of difficulty in payment. Often both parents and school may benefit from a payment plan for parents since it will enable them to keep the child at school, and will ensure that the school does not lose important fee income. If predicted cash flow is a serious concern, it may also be worth offering incentives to parents for 10 INDEPENDENT EXECUTIVE | MAY/JUNE 2012
prompt payment and/or advance payment beyond the current term’s fees. Looking at matters from a wider perspective, schools should always be aware of opportunities to collaborate or share resources with other schools or charitable bodies to the benefit of both. There may be ways in which a school can better exploit some of its assets, and those should be explored. Given that many schools are encountering the same problems, it might be the case that a closer association, or even merger, between two schools may benefit both of them. It is always a complex process to bring together two different operations, and care needs to be taken to ensure compatibility between the parties, but there may be longer term benefits for children, parents and the schools themselves in doing so. If schools have surplus property, or property which might be able to be used in a different way, then governors should seek advice, and in particular get expert advice on the planning position. There may be opportunities of which governors are currently unaware. If, despite the best efforts of governors and staff, the school gets into serious financial difficulty, then governors need to be very careful how they proceed. Whilst the school will probably be run as a company limited by guarantee, there is nonetheless a danger of personal liability to governors where they are trustees/ directors of that company, and the school continues to trade whilst it is insolvent, with little hope of ‘trading out’ of its difficulties. There are two tests of solvency generally used – the cash flow test which is the ability of the school to pay its debts as they fall due, and the balance sheet test which is the extent to which the school has enough assets (fixed and current) to meet all of its actual and anticipated liabilities. In general both tests must be met to establish solvency, and it is important that if the school believes that it may be in financial difficulties, the governors take advice urgently from an insolvency practitioner or other professional, such as a lawyer or accountant. This will help determine whether the school can continue trading, without exposing the governors to potential personal liability should the school eventually become unable to continue. In summary, governors and staff need to ensure that they manage actively the finances of the school, keep matters under review constantly, and take early advice from professionals. These steps should help schools weather the current crisis and emerge from the recession stronger. Nick Burrows is partner and head of the charity, education and third sector team at Blandy & Blandy LLP Solicitors
MARKETING AND DEVELOPMENT > BRANDING
If a school feels it has done well for its students, it may wish to expand its outreach further afield. One way of doing this is by expanding the brand both nationally and abroad. Julia Dennison finds out whether some of Britainâ€™s leading independent schools have room to grow
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MARKETING AND DEVELOPMENT > BRANDING
he UK is known worldwide for its educational prowess. So it’s of little surprise that some of the country’s top independent schools are looking to replicate their success elsewhere – on home soil and elsewhere. INTELLIGENCE ABROAD Many of Britain’s prominent private schools have been expanding their presence outside of these borders. This can mean anything from partnering with other schools around the globe, to sharing resources, connecting via Skype or even opening a school in another country. Suffering a minor setback during the recession, opening a site abroad continues to be a popular trend and if done properly, not only strengthens the school’s brand for prospective students, but can also be kind to the bottom line. In higher education, it’s not uncommon to see universities forming partnerships with their counterparts abroad to share students and subject matter. Glyndŵr University, for example (see profile on p46), has formal ties with Bauman Moscow State Technical University in Russia and International Hellenic University in Greece. It also franchises some of its courses out to the USA and China. It seems private primary and secondary schools are following in footsteps of HE institutions like this one. Brighton College International Schools Limited (BCIS), for instance, was established in 2009 as a subsidiary of Brighton College to plan and set up British-style international schools around the world under licence to Brighton College. Each international school (it has plans for around a dozen) is privately and independently owned and operated by investor partners. They are managed by boards of governors, which include representatives of Brighton College’s owners. BCIS recruits the head and teaching staff, and encourages all schools operating under the Brighton College umbrella to seek ways to bring mutual educational benefit from their relationship through pupil and staff exchanges, sports and music tours and in-service training. The first of Brighton College’s sister schools opened in Abu Dhabi last September with 580 pupils aged three to 14 in a state-of-the-art 34,000 square-metre campus. It hopes for over 1,000 pupils by 2015 with the stated aim to become the leading school in the Middle East. LOOKING EASTWARDS Brighton College isn’t the only UK school expanding into the Gulf, where cash and ex-pats seeking high quality education for their youngsters are in abundance. Oundle School has plans to open a school in Dubai, but it was Repton that became the first traditional English independent school to open a branch in the Middle East in 2007. Repton Dubai is similar in many ways to its parent, particularly in terms of teaching and layout and, according to the Good Schools Guide International, enjoys “very expensive facilities”. Wellington College in Berkshire also has its sights on the wider world, opening its first international campus in Tianjin, China in August last year, where even the architecture emulates its distinctive UK counterpart. ‘The school has always looked outwards, and connections with schools of many sorts in the UK and around the world have been an important part of that,’ reads the website. Harrow INDEPENDENT EXECUTIVE | MAY/JUNE 2012 13
MARKETING AND DEVELOPMENT > BRANDING
has also opened schools in Bangkok (which at 14 years old is one of the oldest British private school forays abroad) and Beijing; and Dulwich College has a branch in Shanghai and plans for another in Singapore. For many schools, the decision to open a satellite abroad is a financial one. Funding from these projects can help supplement fees at home, important when many schools are facing dwindling pupil numbers in this tough market. Furthermore, it can be a good way to stay competitive globally, particularly when homegrown schools in the Middle East, Europe and America are giving boarding schools in England a run for their money when it comes to attracting international students. But that’s not the only reason for expansion. Wellington’s headteacher, Anthony Seldon told the Financial Times that he didn’t want to make any money from his overseas ventures. And he has an altruistic approach to education at home, too, opening the state-funded Wellington Academy in September. This marries with Seldon’s belief that it is a private school’s “moral duty” to help state schools in deprived areas. SPONSORSHIP OF ACADEMIES Prime Minister David Cameron was adamant, when he met with heads of independent schools at Downing Street last year, that all private schools should sponsor academies. After which, the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC) wrote to its members urging them to take on primary schools in a bid to close the attainment gap. This all looks to be wishful thinking as the HMC has since admitted that too many risks stand in the way of these kinds of sponsorships. Chairman David Levin revealed to the TES that large pension deficits for state primary school support staff, which sponsoring private schools would have to absorb, would be a “deal-breaker”. Not to mention the fiscal and administrative responsibility from shouldering the weight of a whole school. “I did due diligence,” Levin told the TES. “I hoped they would be able to sponsor, but the obstacles are too great.” All is not lost, however. Private schools could still get involved, says the HMC, but realistically, this would be by working with schools run by established academy chains, like Ark and United. As part of a template agreement between these companies and the HMC, the TES reports, private schools eager to make a difference could consider financial donations of up to £250,000, which would win them chairmanship of the governing
The Middle East, where cash and ex-pats seeking high quality education for their youngsters are in abundance, has proven very tempting to many UK private schools body and a say in the identity of the new school. They would also be involved in the recruitment of the head and senior leadership team, and could consider other partnership agreements, like exchanging staff or sharing facilities. In short, only six schools – including Seldon’s Wellington College – have become sole sponsors of academies, while 27 more are co-sponsoring or partnering with academies. While two private schools – Eton and Manchester Grammar School – are sponsoring free schools. APPLYING YOUR BRAND SPARINGLY Of course, everything comes with a consequence, and expanding education brands, particularly abroad, is dependent on reliable partnerships in the new country. English schools wary of moving to another country have cited a fear of ruining their brand as reason for their hesitation. The head of one famous private school told the FT that he didn’t like the idea because he feared it would “damage the brand”. Patrick Watson, MD of Montrose Public Affairs Consultants, issues a word of warning to schools considering an outward expansion abroad on his blog (montrose42. wordpress.com). “Many feel that, so far, this is an underexploited market and a rich seam to mine, although they should be careful,” he writes. “They should have an exit plan and ensure that if things do not turn out right, they have limited liability and the mother school is not left exposed financially.” He underlines the importance of having trustworthy partners when venturing elsewhere. This is undoubtedly true, as it will be they who will represent your brand to the world in your absence. Julie Booth, head of independent schools at Capita SIMS, would also urge schools opening branches abroad to be wary: “One of the challenges of expansion is the risk that the market demand in the area might not be strong enough to sustain the new school or that boarding pupil numbers in the home school start to fall as a result of offering a high quality local alternative.” Her advice for schools that choose to expand this way is to
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keep a close eye on the impact the move has on their business as a whole and the pupil take-up in all their schools. “When detailed information on enquiries from parents is recorded electronically, this can provide a wealth of information that can be used to understand what is going on in their schools,” she says. “Enquiries can be tracked easily and followed up to ensure they result in pupils joining, while information on siblings helps schools to predict potential future pupil numbers. Schools can also look closely at the reasons why a parent did or did not choose the school. This will all help to ensure schools in different areas sharing the same branding complement each other to strengthen the business and extend the school’s reputation more widely.” Of course, many schools will be happy enough to stay within their walls (Eton College, for example, has not expanded abroad). These schools may be happy to continue with the task of ensuring their own pupils receive the kind of quality education to which they are entitled. While financial and altruistic reasons drive schools to lend a hand elsewhere, it’s important to keep the home fires burning and whatever you do, don’t let the mother ship’s standards slip.
MARKETING AND DEVELOPMENT > LEGAL
Feeling charitable It is fair to say that state-funded schools, including those that convert to academies, should have little difficulty registering with charities. However, it gets somewhat more complicated for private schools. Lawyer Chris Wilk explains why
ll schools operating outside of the control of local authorities would wish to qualify for treatment as a charity and enjoy the tax benefits that follow from that charitable status. While each school must be looked at separately to see whether it is operating properly and in accordance with its obligations as a charity, it is fair to say that schools in mainstream education and open to all that convert to academies, should not have any difficulty in satisfying the requirement of the Charities Act. The position of independent schools, however, is rather different. Put simply, a charity must be established for charitable purposes and those purposes must be ‘for the public benefit’. Unfortunately there has never been any attempt to properly define what is meant by the expression ‘public benefit’ and the courts have followed a somewhat ad hoc approach to the problem. This has led to complexity in the law and, more significantly, a large degree of uncertainty. As a consequence, the Charity Commission and the Independent Schools Council have had rather different views of what activities might reasonably be considered to be in the public benefit and therefore eligible for charitable status. While the courts have recently confirmed that the Charity Commission guidance was wrong in places, that decision certainly cannot be considered as the end of the matter. As a consequence there has been increased discussion among educationalists recently of the concept of ‘symbiosis’. At its narrowest this is taken to mean independent schools allowing state schools to use their facilities, in the belief that this benefit of resource to the state school will assist the independent school in qualifying for charitable status. The concept of symbiosis is, however, rather wider than that and independent schools should undertake a detailed analysis of its various activities with a particular focus on the following areas.
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MARKETING AND DEVELOPMENT > LEGAL
A charity must be established for charitable purposes and those purposes must be ‘for the public benefit’. Unfortunately there has never been any attempt to properly define what this means
Does it provide scholarships and bursaries? It is clear that, when considering whether there is a public benefit and therefore a possibility of charitable status, the primary focus should be on the direct benefits which the school provides. Scholarships or other forms of direct assistance to students are therefore important. Would it help to sponsor a state school? If an independent school sponsored a state school that was converting to an academy, particularly if the converting school was not rated as outstanding by Ofsted, that would go a long way to demonstrating a public benefit. Are there arrangements under which students from local state schools can attend classes in subjects not otherwise readily available to them? Such arrangements are a start to the provision of public benefit, but obviously much would depend on the number of students involved and the frequency and length of those lessons. Does the independent school share teachers or teaching facilities with the local state schools? As above, direct benefits like these will be taken into account, but again it is a matter of degree depending on the particular circumstances. Does the school make available (whether online or otherwise) teaching materials used in the school? Again this will be taken into account, since these materials are clearly available to the whole community. However, it is doubtful whether much weight can be attached to a benefit which is comparatively easy to provide at little cost and the effect of which is very uncertain.
Does the school make available to students of local state schools other facilities such as playing fields, sports halls, swimming pools or sports grounds? It is clear that benefits such as these can be taken into account in deciding whether a school which is a charity is operating for the public benefit. However there is a question whether such an activity would be sufficiently educational and perhaps the focus should be on providing teachers and learning facilities instead – not what might be regarded as peripheral facilities. Does the school make those facilities available to the community as a whole? Unfortunately, for independent schools, it does not appear that benefits of this sort cannot be taken into account in determining whether there is a public benefit as it does not qualify as an educational purpose. Whilst the above points will be of some assistance in determining whether or not an independent school qualifies for charitable status, it is clear that there has to be a genuine commitment to providing these benefits above a token or cosmetic level. It is also important that a school considers the wider picture and the overall public benefit so as to ensure that they treat all their potential beneficiaries fairly. Finally it is clear that this is predominantly a matter of judgement for each school – there is no single ‘right’ answer. In fact the courts explicitly acknowledge that they have not provided any sort of black letter test by which the Charity Commission or trustees of schools could know which side of the line the school falls. Consequently, although there is slightly more clarity, a lot of uncertainty remains and expert advice should be sought. Chris Wilk is a partner in the corporate department at SA Law
MARKETING AND DEVELOPMENT > VENDOR PROFILE
WELCOM E T O T H E FUTU R E O F PEDAG O G I C A L LEAR N I N G The Samsung TA650 E-Board is making shockwaves in the world of education. We find out more about this new generation teaching tool and how interactive technology is making a difference at the chalk face
earning in the 21st century has moved into another dimension. With interactivity now a mainstay in the classroom environment, schools have become veritable hotbeds of digital inspiration. With an array of impressive technology solutions on the market, ICT managers must choose carefully to ensure the technology they offer has the ‘wow’ factor, inspiring creativity and pedagogical learning in the classroom. For this, only the best will do.
Learning from the best
Samsung works with over 5,300 schools and 100 universities and FE colleges in the UK to offer the latest technological learning solutions. This expert knowledge of the education sector means its TA650 E-Board is the ultimate next-generation teaching tool and like nothing most schools have seen or used before. The high-resolution 65-inch super bright screen offers wide viewing angles with touch-screen control, no shadowing and the highest quality images you would expect from a name like Samsung. Under even the brightest lighting conditions, the TA650 offers exceptionally low power consumption for up to 50,000 hours. Combining the simplicity of a whiteboard and the power of a computer, the Samsung TA650 E-Board will enhance almost any learning environment. Having one solution frees up space, reduces cost to install and maintain, while delivering a much richer learning experience. The benefits include increased student participation, better visual presentation and more efficient lessons. The versatile touch screen will allow you to either use the supplied E-Board pen or your fingers for drawing directly on the screen. Using multiple pen colours or the highlight and bold features, you can stress the importance of certain content for easier understanding and note-taking. The TA650’s high-resolution LCD screen and wide viewing angles allow every student to see what’s being taught. The screen is consistently bright and clear, while eyes are protected by its
anti-reflective coating over a tempered glass exterior. The screen has been expanded so no corner is out of reach, making it easier to access the Windows icons in each corner and see every note made. Compared to a traditional whiteboard, projector and seperate PC solution, the Samsung E-Board delivers exceptional reliability and requires little to no maintenance throughout its lifetime. Total cost of ownership on the E-Board is ideal, as the lifespan of the TA650 LCD panel is approximately 50,000 hours (or about 30 years when used six hours a day).
Going above and beyond
The TA650 is much more than just an impressive touch-screen and E-board pen display. Samsung has partnered with Microsoft to offer a built-in PC operating system and blackboard software to enable a complete interactive experience for pedagogical learning; teachers can access videos and the web instantly and create on-screen projects for students. All this information can be shared digitally for a more collaborative process and greater control. A student’s personal computer screen can be monitored and controlled to block unnecessary websites during class, while teachers can import content from individual computers during an interactive session. The TA650 E-Board facilitates the latest methods of ‘untethered’ learning, such as virtual lectures via multimedia educational content technology, with ease, working independently of other hardware and peripherals. The Samsung E-Board is the next logical step when it comes to technology installation in the classroom, as it provides a future-proof investment that drives interactivity, group engagement and connected solutions to deliver an all-round richer teaching experience. n
The image quality of the Samsung screens are second to none and look fantastic
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MARKETING AND DEVELOPMENT > VENDOR PROFILE
E-BOARD IN ACTION “Samsung is committed to developing a richer, more interactive learning experience in classrooms and in group/ plaza environments. With more than 30 academies in the UK using the Samsung E-Board solution, we are committed to ensuring that key focus areas, such as pedagogical and connected learning, are introduced efficiently and effectively for schools and colleges nationwide” Phil Gaut, UK&I general manager, Samsung display and AV division
Forward-thinking schools across the UK are using the interactive versatility of the TA650 E-Board to their advantage. Here are some examples of how the technology can be used
CORNWALLIS ACADEMY, KENT Known for thinking outside the four walls of the traditional classroom, Cornwallis Academy wanted to invest in leading technology of a high standard that was easy to use and visually appealing, in-line with the school’s modern look and feel. Samsung provided interactive whiteboards, video walls and large format display screens to be displayed throughout the school, which has not only enhanced teaching and learning, but saves on printing too. “The image quality of the Samsung screens are second to none and look fantastic,” said one teacher. “The MagicInfo software solution made it easy to change and broadcast content seamlessly.”
BIRMINGHAM METROPOLITAN COLLEGE Technology plays an important role in everyday life at Birmingham Metropolitan College. In a bid to enhance the pedagogical side of learning for students, the college had a large quantity of Samsung E-Boards installed throughout the campus. The solution has enabled a higher level of interactivity between the students and teachers, while significantly aiding the learning process. Students feel confident to contribute and become more involved in class using the Samsung TA650 E-Board – writing on the board, playing video clips and sharing information. A spokesperson from the college said they were “confident” in Samsung as a key partner “with the best access to technology to improve teaching and learning in the college”.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Tony Ryan W: www.samsung.com/uk/lfd T: 07775 998101 E: email@example.com
INDEPENDENT EXECUTIVE | MAY/JUNE 2012 19
PROCURE AND PLAN > PREMISES
The space age
20 INDEPENDENT EXECUTIVE | MAY/JUNE 2012
PROCURE AND PLAN > PREMISES
The shape of a classroom can make all the difference to how pupils learn. Graham Jarvis looks at trends in school buildings and classroom layouts to encourage the optimum learning environment, as well as easy things schools can do to improve without spending a fortune
he shape of a classroom can make a huge difference to student learning in schools. That’s the view of Nick Ward, vice-principal at Marine Academy Plymouth, who says it can change the atmosphere entirely and in a way that can improve the way teachers interact with pupils. Schools are therefore looking at new ways to inspire learning, and that’s because it is thought that the shape of a classroom, the layout of its fixtures and fittings and the colour of its décor can inspire learning. “One example is an approach to teaching and learning maths which is called ‘Talk to Learn’”, explains Ward. For a maths class, his academy arranges the seating in a particular way to encourage discussion around mathematical problems. This kind of approach pushes away the traditional classroom format that requires the children to sit in rows behind their desk to face their teacher. Desks can instead be pushed aside and the chairs arranged so that the pupils face each other and work together to solve an equation of some description. This allows them to develop their mathematical skills and it increases the level of student engagement within the class. “By adopting a conference style of seating, the students can gain eye contact with each other, and this promotes discussion and effective communication,” says Ward. He believes that students will to want
to learn more by changing the configuration of a classroom, but he stresses that the key to making new approaches work is flexibility. “This allows the teacher to plan for a range of different learning environments to suit the needs of the students and their learning aims,” he elaborates. BSF CREATES DEBATES Ray Barker, director of the British Educational Suppliers Association says there were many debates about this during the Building Schools for Future programme, which the coalition government has abandoned. He thinks that many teachers would be happy with a standard box, but the Classrooms of the Future initiative even proposed different classroom shapes, some of which meant that pupils could hide around corners to avoid participating in lessons. While he believes that it made some quirky proposals, he agrees that it all makes a big difference. “Whatever the shape of the classroom, it needs to be versatile and so it’s important to choose furniture you can change – like tables and chairs you can fold in order to create a large space within the room,” says Barker. He adds that it’s important to think about how the classroom is going to be equipped and used. For example, a school may wish to consider partitions for classrooms. By building in versatility, teachers may be able to adapt each classroom to facilitate independent or group work.
INDEPENDENT EXECUTIVE | MAY/JUNE 2012 21
PROCURE AND PLAN > PREMISES
ATTENTION TO DESIGN Marine Academy Plymouth is going through a rebuild at the moment, and Ward says that much attention is being given to the design of the school and the learning environment: “We have considered the views of the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment [CABE], the Royal Institute of British Architects, who published a paper on ‘21st Century Schools: The Learning Environment of the Future’.” CABE also wrote a report entitled, ‘Transforming secondary schools through refurbishment’. There are a number of other publications for schools and academies like his to consider, including the ‘Language of School Design’ by Prakash Nair and Randall Fielding. With all of this research in mind, Ward says his focus is on the flexibility of learning spaces. “This promotes new curriculum designs as well as giving scope for teachers to truly personalise and differentiate learning; and it’s also important for classrooms to be stimulating and engaging,” he explains. This means it’s also a good idea to display illustrative steps to achievement and learning, which might include assignments that have been annotated by teachers to show where marks were awarded for particular types of work. For this to be meaningful the display has to be eye-catching to stimulate their interest. As independent schools, state- and privately-funded alike, are autonomous and responsible for their own dayto-day management, Barker says: “Schools can develop that space in whatever way they think is appropriate.” This also means that schools’ managers and teachers need to consider how furniture, like wheeled chairs in computer rooms for information communications technology lessons, can influence pupil behaviour. Furthermore the shapes of the classrooms, the overall school design, the types of furniture, and other fixtures and fittings that school managers buy for their schools can promote new teaching and learning philosophies. Yet nothing can change without first of all developing a vision and school policies to match whatever the learning goals and objectives are. A vision is also important because the school, its staff and particularly its teachers will be judged according the individual and collective achievements or failures of the pupils. The board of governors and parents will, in other words, wish to know whether any changes in 22 INDEPENDENT EXECUTIVE | MAY/JUNE 2012
Whatever the shape of the classroom, it needs to be versatile and so it’s important to choose furniture you can change
classroom design and layout will improve learning outcomes. With budget cuts making life harder, schools and academies face a tough task to make any amendments as there is now little support from the government to help them. So the schools that find they don’t have sufficient financial resources to make the amendments to the school environment that they wish to make, will have to “find ways to change their environment with what they already have, but a fair amount of money has been spent on versatile furniture in the last few years,” says Barker. The current trend is about flexibility, and particularly with respect to classroom layout design. “However, this is balanced with having more discrete and specialised areas, which may be matches to the designated specialism of the school – such as developments in ICT and its integration into teaching and learning – with room layouts and designs taking this into account,” explains Ward. He adds that there is also a trend that encourages students to engage in independent learning away from their teachers and classrooms. This can encourage pupils to become selfmotivated. While all of this can create an optimum learning environment, academies are still accountable to Ofsted and the Government. Barker thinks this can create a scenario that lends itself to conflict between the schools, the authorities, the board of governors and parents. The schools may have more control than they did under BSF, but they can still be told they can’t do certain things. Barker expects this to become a more pronounced issue as the Government wishes to place the focus on results. So no matter how the schools’ classrooms are set up, they could find themselves being tapped on the shoulder by all of the concerned parties, and not just Ofsted, if the schools individually fail to improve teaching and learning. That’s because leagues tables are expected to continue to hold schools to account and they will influence what will happen in their classes.
PROCURE AND PLAN > CURRICULUM
W h a t â€™s the a l t e r n ative? The way children are learning is changing and pupils no longer want to sit indoors, rewriting notes from dusty textbooks. Students are demanding more from their curriculum and want to be challenged, not just academically, but physically and emotionally too. To meet these demands schools need to adapt. Carrie Service looks at how different approaches to curriculum can benefit admissions
24 INDEPENDENT EXECUTIVE | MAY/JUNE 2012
PROCURE AND PLAN > CURRICULUM
xtra curricular activities are becoming more and more important in the overall performance and prestige of a school, and alternative curricula such as the International Baccalaureate which embraces non-academic achievements, reinforce this. Founded in Geneva in 1968, the International Baccalaureate Organisation, who founded the IB diploma intended to provide “an internationally acceptable university admissions qualification suitable for the growing mobile population of young people”. The Middle Years and Primary Years Programme were added later, in the mid 1990s to cater for younger students. The IB diploma requires students to choose topics from six subject groups including language acquisition, individuals and societies, experimental science and the arts. In addition, they must complete 150 hours of CAS – “Creativity, Action and Service”, in their own time. This involves students partaking in activities from all three areas for example; Creativity – playing an instrument; Action – being a member of a sports team; and Service – volunteering for a charity project. A HOLISTIC APPROACH The IB curriculum is aimed at encouraging students to use their own initiative to develop additional skills on top of their academic ones. It was hoped that this approach would give students a broader education and allow them to see schooling as part of a bigger picture of the development of their personality and attributes, rather than simply a daily chore. Mark London from ACS International Schools, believes the International Baccalaureate curriculum delivers a better rounded education by integrating what he calls “co-
curricular” activities: “It encourages students to take part in activities that develop creative thinking; physical activities such as sport and voluntary activities that have a learning benefit for the student. Whilst some of these activities take part within the school day, many require students to utilise their free time in order to amass the equivalent of at least three CAS hours each week.” This allows pupils to not only improve their sporting and arts skills, or build on their charity work and community service; it also promotes good time management and self motivation – something that will prove invaluable when they start full time work. Another key life skill that students take from the IB is confidence. The diverse range of topics that pupils have to choose from means that they aren’t afraid of the unknown, comments London: “By doing CAS, IB students are often more willing to accept new challenges – the activities they complete as part of their allotted hours may be outside of their usual comfort zone but students are encouraged to broaden their horizons and try new activities where possible.” The nature of the IB also means that students will have already built up a portfolio of extracurricular activities and experience when they finish school, so will not be as apprehensive about trying new things. MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU Obviously there are arguments against the IB; one being that it doesn’t allow pupils to specialise in a few subjects, but instead covers a less in-depth range of topics. To tackle this, some schools such as Bradfield College in Berkshire offer the choice of taking traditional A levels or the IB. By being flexible and adapting your curriculum you could open up the school to a wider demographic of students.
INDEPENDENT EXECUTIVE | MAY/JUNE 2012 25
PROCURE AND PLAN > CURRICULUM
For those with a keen interest in sport but who don’t necessarily have a career in it, the IB can be an attractive option. Similarly, for those who are looking into studying or working abroad, it provides the language skills and transferrable qualification to help them to do this – and at the same time could increase your admissions by bringing in more internationals. The IB could also open up your school to students who are a little unsure of their future aspirations and career path, and might not want to spend money on studying three or four subjects that could tie them down and limit their future choices. In addition, allowing the alternative option of taking A levels could enable the school to attract new pupils, whilst still holding onto its usual demographic. Introducing the International Baccalaureate to your school could give it the image boost it needs, as demonstrating that you are open to a less traditional way of learning could help you to shed any old fashioned stereotypes that may have deterred some pupils in the past. Even for students who do not wish to go down the IB route, attending a school where extracurricular activity is high on the agenda can be a selling point, as there might be opportunities to take advantage of good sports facilities and language resources, or a chance to get involved in charity projects.
and will be, playing a major part across the curriculum as it is now integrated into most subjects. RSA Academy in Tipton uses the Opening Minds curriculum for its Key Stage 3 pupils. Umran Naeem, ICT director at the school, says that this competence-lead curriculum allows a lot of flexibility in the way they deliver IT and how it is integrated into learning: “What we try to do is, rather than have it as a separate entity, we embed it throughout all subjects…for example our maths lessons, there is a lot of technology in there – even cooking.” At Key Stage 4 they also run something called the Microsoft Academy where students can gain Microsoft specialist certifications so that they can be prepared for the kinds of software they will be using in the working world. Implementing more
FIT TO WORK A positive side effect of the International Baccalaureate is the benefits pupils get from leading a more active lifestyle. Due to the course’s requirements that they complete 150 hours of activities, including sports and other active ventures, students can benefit from being fitter and healthier, which can in turn improve learning, says Miles Rimell, marketing director at fitness equipment manufacturer Precor: “Research shows that not only is exercise good for our heart and weight, it’s also good for our brains. Studies reveal that running boosts the growth of new nerve cells in the brain and helps to improve learning and memory… It is also known to have a wider impact on learning: parents of children taking part in an American study noticed that their children had more energy and a better routine, as well as improving their grades.”
technology into lessons obviously will depend on the kind of budget you are working with, but showing that you are moving with the times by embracing technology, and encouraging teachers to do the same will allow prospective students to see that you offer the benefits of being a traditional, well established organisation, while still adapting to a changing society. A recent survey carried out by Cambridge Assessment revealed that many students are completely unprepared for the style of learning when they reach university. The research revealed that some students on arrival are unable to write an essay and are not comfortable with self-managed study. Using an alternative curriculum such as the IB, (where one of the core requirements is to complete a 4,000 word essay) could enable schools to increase their university application success rate by producing students who are perhaps better prepared for the challenges presented in higher education. Wherever you stand on using curriculum as a means of attracting new students, there is no denying that times are changing, and if you don’t want to be left behind, you’ll need to change with them. n
MOVING WITH THE TIMES There are other ways a curriculum can be adapted to be made more relevant to prospective students. ICT has been,
26 INDEPENDENT EXECUTIVE | MAY/JUNE 2012
Students are encouraged to broaden their horizons and try new activities
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PROCURE AND PLAN > EVENT PREVIEW
We are pleased to announce some stellar people who will be speaking at our reader conference on 22 June. Places are running out, so if you haven’t booked already, it’s now or never
KEYNOTE • The Department for Education’s Lizzie Sharples, who leads within the Funding Policy Unit on school efficiency. • A lunchtime lecture from sector expert Stephen Morales, business director at Watford Grammar School for Girls.
A DIFFERENT DAY OUT EdExec Live is intended to be a live and interactive version of this here magazine, so if you like what you read, you’ll like what you see. Here’s a schedule of events for the day:
CLINICS Half-hour workshops on single topics • Ian Buss, head of education for Lloyds TSB Commercial – The school banking and finance expert will bring a team to present a not-to-be missed series of clinics on financial issues in schools, including the risks and benefits of going cashless. • Stuart Hughes, head of education for Investec Education Leasing – His team will present a guide to safe equipment leasing. • Veale Wasbrough Vizards (VWV) – Expert education lawyers will be on hand throughout the day to offer advice and guidance on current legal issues facing school business managers. They will also be running a series of short clinics on various topics offering practical tips and advice in plain English. • Trevor Summerson, head of school business management programmes and efficiency, National College for School Leadership – A run-through of the current qualifications available for school business managers, and ways you can develop your career. • Ben Cooper, director of software and financial management consultants Recenseo – Presenting on how to make the most of your MIS. • Valerie Thompson, chief executive of the e-Learning Foundation – On the pros and cons of of bringing your own device (BYOD).
e’re a month away from our sister magazine Education Executive’s first ever reader event on 22 June at London’s Business Design Centre. The event is aimed at independent and state schools alike and at just £84.99, it’s significantly cheaper than most other industry events. Many of our readers have already secured places, which means, we’re down to our last few spots. So if you’re intertested, visit edexeclive.eventbrite.co.uk to book your place or simply tear off the registration form attached here and fax it back.
From 8.30am Registration and coffee 9.00 Welcome and introduction to the day 9.15 Keynote speaker – Lizzie Sharples, head of the Department for Education’s Funding Policy Unit 10.00 Seminar for group A/clinics for group B 11.00 Coffee break, exhibition and demo hubs 11.30 Seminar for group A/clinics for group B 12.30 Lunch and lunchtime speaker 13.30 Clinics for group A/seminar for group B 14.30 Coffee break, exhibition and demo hubs 15.00 Clinics for group A/seminar for group B 16.00 Coffee break, exhibition and demo hubs 16.30 Closing remarks 5pm onwards Cocktail networking reception GUESS WHO’S GOING TO BE THERE… EdExec can now confirm a fantastic line up of experts to speak at our live event, including: the Department for Education’s Lizzie Sharples, Ian Buss, head of education for Lloyds TSB Commercial; Val Andrew, business management specialist from the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL); Miles Berry, senior lecturer in ICT education at Roehampton University and Naace vice chair; Stuart Hughes, head of education for Investec Education Leasing and many more. If you need any more convincing to book your ticket, below is a list of confirmed speakers for the 22 June event. This list is growing every day, so keep checking edexeclive.co.uk every day for more information.
SEMINARS Hour-long interactive sessions • Howard Jackson, MD of education finance specialists HCSS – Six steps to better strategic planning and financial management in schools. • Val Andrew, business management specialist, the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) – Val Andrew will be presenting an interactive seminar on the changing face of the school business manager. • Miles Berry, senior lecturer in ICT education at Roehampton University and Naace vice chair – A run-down of the latest trends and innovations in educational ICT. • Alex Shapland-Howes, MD of Future First – On how state schools can build alumni networks. • Eric Willis, grants expert – How to find cash in unexpected places. DEMO HUB This area will be dedicated to the latest technology demonstrations • Abbott Katz, education consultant and Excel expert – A workshop on Excel with particular reference to pivot tables, something that affords the business manager or bursar a most potent tool for aggregating information and data patterns that might otherwise remain obscure, adding value to the analysis of institutional financial activity. A CHANCE TO MEET THE TEAM At Education Executive and Independent Executive magazines, nothing is more important to us than our readers and we are very much looking forward to EdExec Live as an opportunity to meet and speak to all of you, hear your thoughts and concerns and any feedback on how we can make your magazine better. A GOOD DEAL All this can be yours for the affordable price of £84.99 (discounts available for group bookings). Check out edexeclive.co.uk for daily deals and promotions, including a package with overnight accommodation at the Hilton London Islington for anyone who wants to make a weekend of it. In the meantime, if you have any questions, get in touch on editor@ edexec.co.uk. We look forward to seeing you there! Ticket sales close on 28 May 2012 – so act now and book your place.
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PROCURE AND PLAN > LEGAL
PROCUREMENT AND ACADEMIES
G R E AT P O W E R O R G R E AT RESPONSIBILITY? The EU procurement regime can be a minefield for those not used to dealing with its idiosyncrasies. Legal experts Craig Elder and Anja Beriro look at the issues that academies must address when thinking of procuring new contracts to achieve a positive outcome
hile becoming an academy will not allow the headteacher or business manager to scale tall buildings, it will give more control over the choice and management of contracts. What may not have been apparent prior to conversion is the complex procedures that sometimes have to be followed when procuring new contracts. Welcome to the world of procurement. An academy must ensure that, as a publicly funded organisation, it is following procedures that have been put in place to avoid a lack of transparency in the contract award process. The main rules that are applicable are the Public Contracts Regulations 2006, which bring the EU procurement regime into UK law. The regulations set out when and how a contract must be procured. If the regulations are ignored or not followed correctly, the academy may run the risk of a financial penalty and, in the most serious cases, having the contract unpicked. This is because, if the process is challenged, a court may find that the award or the contract itself is invalid and the process will have to be repeated. It is clear that this will result in a large waste of time and money, not to mention inconvenience.
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PROCURE AND PLAN > LEGAL
Even the largest government organisations sometimes fail to set out clearly the objectives they wish to achieve
WHEN The regulations stipulate that when the value of a contract for goods, works or services is above a certain threshold then the procuring body must follow the EU’s procedures. These thresholds change every two years and currently are £4,348,350 for works and £173,934 for goods and services (this is the lifetime of the contract and if not known it is estimated as 48 months). However, currently certain types of services are exempt from the full scope of the regulations. These are known as ‘part B services’ and relate to services such as legal services, educational services and health and social care services. It will always be worth checking whether the contract that you want to enter into comes within an exemption as it will make the process considerably simpler but may not relieve you of obligations under the regulations altogether. HOW What the academy wishes to procure will dictate the exact procedure to be followed. Depending on the procedure followed the academy will have to prepare documents for different stages of the process and on some occasions enter into dialogue with bidders to work out the finer points of the contract. Specific protocols will have to be followed before the contract can be entered into. PITFALLS There are certain risks that an academy should know to reduce the risks of a challenge to the process or delay. Firstly, know what you want and why. Even the largest government organisations sometimes fail to set out clearly the objectives they wish to achieve. It may be that a current contract is coming to an end and they want to renew it for the same services or a new service, goods or works are required. Either way the academy will want to get the best price possible while ensuring a high quality of delivery. Secondly, make sure that you use the right documents and complete them properly. To begin a procurement, a notice must be published in the Official Journal of the EU (OJEU) and the information will be disseminated to potential bidders Europe-wide. The information in this notice will be the basis on which all later documentation is drafted and against which evaluations should be made. Understand the timescales that the different procedures must adhere to and how these can be shortened in certain circumstances. It is always best to give a few extra days in your timetable to allow for unforeseen complications and remember that the timescales are only indicative
and no-one can challenge simply because the next stage is started a week late. Evaluating bids isn’t always easy and it is an area where many challenges are made. To make it as water tight as possible the questions and the criteria need to be clearly worded and the bidders must be able to see what they will be evaluated against. TUPE is something that will often rear its head when procuring a new services contract as there may well be existing staff either of the academy or the current provider who as a matter of law will transfer under the new contract. Anticipating and collating the correct information early and managing the process following the award of contract is really important and extremely useful. If everything is left until after the contract is awarded there may be long delays while the new and old providers arrange staffing transfers and deal with pensions. If the existing service provider is a local authority then pensions can become complicated due to the protection for public sector workers. MAKING LIFE A LITTLE BIT EASIER There are ways in which the procurement of contracts can be managed to reduce the effort that needs to be put in. The first of these is seeing if there is an existing framework that the academy can use. For example, the Government Procurement Service has a range of agreements that can be used by all public bodies. Using a framework agreement means that one or more companies have already been shortlisted to provide specific types of works, good or services and the academy can ‘call-off’ the provider it thinks is most appropriate. This drastically reduces the time and costs of the procurement process. For academies that are part of a multiacademy trust or in an area with a number of other academies, it is worth looking at procuring for the whole group. While this wouldn’t necessarily make the process easier or quicker to begin with, it is likely to reap cost rewards in the long-term as providers will give better prices for bulk buying. REMEMBER, REMEMBER Setting realistic deadlines and giving plenty of time for drafting the documents and taking advice from relevant professionals or other staff is crucial. The preparation is of the utmost importance and if the process is set up correctly it will allow for a smooth run later on. Craig Elder is a partner and Anja Beriro a solicitor in Browne Jacobson LLP’s government and infrastructure team INDEPENDENT EXECUTIVE | MAY/JUNE 2012 31
PROCURE AND PLAN > BOOKING TRIPS
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PROCURE AND PLAN > BOOKING TRIPS
The school trip is notoriously a source of stress for whoever has to organise it. Carrie Service takes a look at the destinations schools are choosing lately and gets tips on the best ways to see the whole process runs smoothly – from take-off to landing
he modest school trip has changed in recent years. If your associated memories feature long coach journeys and a stick of seaside rock, you’ll understand. These days, school trips aren’t just about going to the local museum or a day out at a coastal town. Children are now clocking up more airmiles than some of us may have done in a lifetime; by going on safari to Africa, taking history trips to Nazi concentration camp memorial sites in Poland and learning about cookery in the south of France.
help cover their costs. This gives secondary PTAs the perfect opportunity to work in partnership with pupils. A fundraising event which the PTA helps to organise, but which pupils deliver will make a big difference and shifts the PTA away from simply making a donation. Alternatively, the association might offer a matched giving scheme to double the money raised by students.” If the trip is genuinely educational, people are more likely to want to contribute, so remember to tell people why you are organising the trip, rather than concentrating on where you are going.
FLIGHTPLAN As trips get more ambitious, organising them becomes increasingly problematic. Tim Chadwick, operations director at The School Travel Company, says that planning is the key and booking a school trip should never be rushed. There is also much to be said for having a helping hand: “By using a reputable school trips specialist tour operator, much of the workload will be handled for you,” he says. “Look for ABTA membership, and also Atol if flights are involved, to protect parents’ money. Choose a School Travel Forum member with an LOtC Quality Badge, as these are safety-checked. This means that they will have been safety and quality audited annually.” Chadwick also emphasises the importance of building a good relationship with your tour operator: “Choose one that offers a personal service – you may be dealing with them for up to 12 months.” He recommends checking with the tour operator whether or not you will have a dedicated consultant to save you from being passed from department to department. Last but not least; make sure you shop around and read the small print so you know exactly what you are signing up for: “Get all quotes in writing and check, check and check again what’s included when comparing quotes,” advises Chadwick.
MAKE A DIFFERENCE If you want your trip to be more than just a change of scenery and to be something that students will remember forever, why not organise a volunteer trip to a third world country? WAVA (Work and Volunteer Abroad) is a travel company with a difference. It organises trips abroad for individuals and groups (including schools) who are looking for more than your average holiday. They work hard at introducing more young people to the concept of volunteering, increasing their level of awareness on key global issues, and highlighting how their voluntary activity can have a positive impact on locations and communities around the world. They have a number of overseas volunteer projects aimed at young people, and over the years have seen an increasing number of students volunteering. It is for this reason that they have decided to lower their volunteer age limit from 18 to 16-17 year olds, as long as they’re travelling as part of a school group. WAVA has a broad-ranging School Group Volunteering programme that includes seven volunteer projects across South Africa, Mozambique and Thailand, chosen specifically because they are educational and suitable for young people. However, WAVA do stress that the school volunteering initiative is not a holiday, nor an adventure travel programme. “Safety is obviously a key consideration when sending school children abroad,” says Sally Mordarski, manager of WAVA. “Staff members have personally visited each of the seven projects being offered to schools – ensuring that they have the infrastructure and facilities in place to provide adequate health and safety requirements for the students.” Whatever your next school trip entails, don’t be afraid to ask around for help – other schools may be able to recommend good tour operators and interesting destinations, or even schools that they have done exchange trips with. The key is to stay organised, book ahead and remember; this is supposed to be fun!
WHO’S PAYING? I know what you’re thinking; it’s all very well choosing an exciting location for your next school trip, but funding it is another matter. But if you get creative, it’s possible to raise a considerable amount towards costs, and if the children know their efforts are going towards paying for a trip abroad, they’ll be falling over themselves to help. For a bigger boost, Nikki Burch, editor at PTA+ magazine suggests getting your PTA involved too: “As children get older, the nature of the trips can get more aspirational and therefore more expensive. Some schools ask pupils themselves to fundraise to
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MANAGEMENT > INTERVIEW
Leading from the middle
Helen Fraser CBE, head of the Girls’ Day School Trust, speaks to Julia Dennison during the organisation’s 140th anniversary celebrations, on why working as a group of schools has kept them going so far and why it could just be a format other schools should emulate
or a group of private schools to survive 140 years, they must be doing something right. This is certainly true for the Girls’ Day School Trust, which is celebrating its 140th anniversary this year. When I visit chief executive Helen Fraser at her Pimlico office, I am impressed by just how extensive this organisation is. With a turnover of £200m, 4,500 employees and 20,000 students in 26 schools, this is no small-fry charity. In fact, it claims to be the biggest educational charity in the UK. Fraser has an impressive track record herself, joining as chief executive two years ago after 37 years in publishing, culminating as MD of Penguin Books for the last 13 years. She hadn’t planned to take on a permanent role after leaving her career in publishing, but when she was approached by the GDST to be its chief executive, she was immediately tempted. As a parent, it’s clear she believes strongly in what the GDST stands for, but the trust was also interested in having her as someone with experience running a business. “Because this is a big business,” she comments. When she got the job, she was impressed by the trust’s ethos. “When it was announced I was coming here, I got something like 200 emails from people who I had never known were GDST alumnae – friends and colleagues saying: ‘I’m a Portsmouth girl!’, ‘I’m a Nottingham girl!’ or ‘I’m a Newcastle girl!’ and they just had this incredibly strong sense of what GDST meant for them and they identified themselves as GDST girls.” Coming from the private sector, she found her skills to be more transferable than she thought. “When you’ve been in one industry for a very long time, you always assume you have no transferable skills at all,” she explains. “What really surprised me is how much did transfer. I suppose what I’ve been doing for the last 13 years at Pen34 INDEPENDENT EXECUTIVE | MAY/JUNE 2012
guin was not really publishing, it was managing the money and managing the people – and that’s what I do here.” While working in education is new to her, she has been making up for it, spending as many as two days a week in the field, visiting schools and observing classrooms. “What I’m learning more and more is the fact that we’re a network of schools gives us opportunities that a standalone school could never have,” she says. A MODEL THAT WORKS Indeed, strong ethos aside, much of the reason for the GDST’s success is the centralised hub-andspoke business model that it takes. This can be as simple as buying the gas and electricity for all the schools centrally. “We get massive discounts because we have a lot of purchase power,” Fraser explains. “We have those economies of scale, whether it’s buying computers or buying textbooks.” Each school has its own budget, which it does every spring for the next year, and is given a target depending on predicted pupil numbers. The headteachers then work with their business manager or director of finance to finalise timetable choices and each staff numbers. “It’s a juggling act,” Fraser says of the annual process of budgeting. “And of course you don’t absolutely know what your pupil numbers will be until 1 September, but people usually have a good idea.” Every school in the trust also has its own marketing manager who works closely with the headteacher to recruit girls. “The head is the chief marketeer of the school,” says Fraser. “We’re always encouraging them to be figures in the community, which they really are.” AN IDEAS NETWORK Not only does the GDST model allow for the centralisation of procurement and services,
MANAGEMENT > INTERVIEW
GDST SCHOOLS 1. Blackheath High School 2. Brighton & Hove High School 3. Bromley High School 4. Central Newcastle High School 5. Croydon High School 6. Heathfield School, Pinner 7. Howell’s School, Llandaff, Cardiff 8. Ipswich High School 9. Kensington Prep School 10. Northampton High School 11. Norwich High School for Girls 12. Notting Hill & Ealing High School 13. Nottingham Girls’ High School 14. Oxford High School 15. Portsmouth High School 16. Putney High School 17. The Royal High School, Bath 18. Sheffield High School 19. Shrewsbury High School 20. South Hampstead High School 21. Streatham & Clapham High School 22. Sutton High School 23. Sydenham High School 24. Wimbledon High School Academies 25. The Belvedere Academy, Liverpool 26. Birkenhead High School
but it also creates a network of teachers and educators who can share ideas for everything from lesson plans to employee structures. The heads of geography throughout the network, for example, may well get together to discuss the curriculum and give each other feedback and advice on their individual subject. Fraser wants to see even more of this taking place in the trust and one of her objectives is that by 2015, 10% of the staff in any year will have spent time in another school. “What I find is when you send people to another school, whether it’s something really mundane like how they manage their catering or dining room to what they’re doing really imaginatively with Key Stage 3 work, they come back with so many ideas,” says Fraser. “We want to make ourselves a learning network.” When the schools are day schools within a safe distance from each other so as not to be competitive (though this isn’t always the case for the London schools), it’s easy to see how sharing good practice can only be beneficial to the learners within the schools’ walls. She puts this ability to share as another reason why the group has managed to grow from 5,000 pupils in the 1940s to the 20,000 it is today.
Being in the GDST frees heads to be heads and relieves schools to excel at teaching and learning. They’re not having to think: ‘Where can I get a surveyor to mend the falling down wall at the end of the sports hall’
CELEBRATING FOR THE FUTURE In honour of its 140th anniversary, the GDST is planning a slew of events this year, from a conference and a ‘GDST through the ages’ exhibition in June to a ‘Women in Science Day’ in November and a GleeDST singing event next March in the Wembley Arena. Without a doubt, the trust is always looking to the future. At 24 private schools and two academies, the trust is a good size, but it’s not adverse to expansion and would consider acquiring more schools if they fit the right profile. “We’d always be interested in a school that shared our ethos, was strong academically and in terms of pupil numbers,” says Fraser. “What we’re not is an embracing shelter for schools that are struggling with difficult numbers or academics. I think there are lots of things that being part of the GDST can really offer because we have this central expertise of HR, finance, IT and estates management and actually what that does is it frees our heads to be heads and to relieve the schools to really excel at teaching and learning. They’re not having to think: ‘Where can I get a surveyor to mend the falling down wall at the end of the sports hall.’” Plans for the future include refurbishments of the school buildings, with £100m budgeted to spend on its buildings over the next four years. “We absolutely believe in investing in the fabric of our buildings,” says Fraser. However, she adds, no amount of investment in the premises could come close to the impact a good headteacher has on the appeal of each school: “The decision to hand your child over is because you believe that that head is going to give them a brilliant education.”
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MANAGEMENT > ADVICE
Pastoral support is of particular importance in boarding schools where children are away from home. Carrie Service looks at what schools should consider to ensure their pupils are receiving all the support they need
t is well known that schools are no longer expected to simply be educators of children, but are responsible for the welfare, general wellbeing and future success of their pupils too. This is a sentiment that is no less apparent in independent schools than in state schools. In fact, it could be surmised that more is expected of independent schools in terms of pastoral care, as parents are after all paying for the school’s services. With the government blaming the summer riots on lack of opportunity for young people and suggesting that schools should concentrate on ‘character building’ for children as young as primary age, there is increased pressure on schools – in both sectors – not just to produce students with good grades, but well rounded individuals with good characters too. HOME FROM HOME Pastoral care in schools that take boarders is particularly essential as school becomes a kind of second home, particularly to pupils who board for longer periods of time or international students who may be thousands of miles from their families. Theresa Homewood, pastoral deputy head at Sevenoaks School in Kent, which is a day and boarding school, says that staff should be properly prepared to care for the specific needs of boarders: “Pastoral care of boarders does, of course, have its challenges, for example some pupils suffer home sickness, others have to adjust to a different culture and, for some, there is the demand of living and working using a language which they have yet to fully master. It therefore follows that staff involved in boarding must be carefully selected and undergo thorough induction and an on-going programme of INSET [in-service training]”. CAREER CARE Pastoral care is a pretty generic term that can include anything to do with a pupil’s general welfare and is not simply limited to non-academic areas. Many schools consider career development to be under the pastoral ‘umbrella’. Providing pupils with advice when applying for university and choosing a career path contributes considerably to a student’s overall experience of school. Such life-changing decisions can be very stressful for young people and proper guidance is vital. During my research I came across a job advertisement for a careers ‘counsellor’ at an independent school, which at the time struck me as sounding more ‘pastoral’ than ‘careers adviser’.
INFORMED KNOWLEDGE Homewood believes that staff can learn a lot from each other and this knowledge should be properly cultivated: “There must be a culture within the school which encourages staff to consult with senior staff about concerns, and an ethos of reflective practice to enable the community to learn from experience and progress strategically.” If you are a relatively new school or feel your staff could do with a refresher on how to deal with issues of pastoral care, she recommends taking a look at the BSA’s variety of courses. 36 INDEPENDENT EXECUTIVE | MAY/JUNE 2012
MANAGEMENT > ADVICE
to tears Many schools now place a big emphasis on tutor groups, and Seven Oaks describes the role of the tutor as “crucial”. Once a week each tutor group from the middle and lower school is joined by a tutor prefect; a sixth former, who acts like a “big brother or sister” and mentors the students, sharing their own experiences. Providing pupils with an approachable source of advice adds a feeling of openness and is especially effective if a child has a problem concerning an adult or teacher and does not feel comfortable approaching a member of staff. Additionally for boarders, the house master should be a source of advice and comfort, and training them to deal with pastoral issues would be a wise investment. Chetham’s school of music, a specialist music school in Manchester, ensures there are always three members of staff on duty in their boarding houses during the evenings, so that there is no risk of staff not being available for students to talk to. Although many teachers will have a wealth of experience in pastoral issues, it might still be worthwhile having a dedicated school counsellor rather than asking teachers to take on counsellor duties, Homewood explains: “Many boarding staff are skilled in supporting pupils in need, but there is no doubt in my mind, that for both day and boarding pupils a well-qualified and skilled counsellor is invaluable.” That is not to say that boosting existing staff’s knowledge is not worthwhile – a number of staff at Sevenoaks have volunteered to take part in a Youth Mental Health First Aid course next term. The course provides information and training to promote a young person’s mental and emotional wellbeing and enables participants to support a young person who might be experiencing mental and emotional distress. By doing the course, staff at Sevenoaks will be trained how to achieve the following: spot the early signs of a mental health problem; feel confident helping a young person experiencing a problem; provide first aid; help prevent a young person from hurting themselves or others; help prevent a mental health illness from getting worse; help a young person recover faster; guide them towards the right support, and importantly, reduce the stigma of mental health problems. One school I came across in my research described good pastoral care as “a fence at the top of the cliff, rather than simply providing the ambulance at the bottom”. I am not entirely sure that’s quite how I would put it (especially in the context of pastoral care) but I can agree with its sentiments – that providing the right support and care for pupils can prevent more serious issues occurring further down the line. There are huge pressures on schools to provide support to pupils outside of the educational remit, but with the right training and an open mind, schools can have a positive impact on the future happiness of pupils.
Pastoral care of boarders does, of course, have its challenges, for example some pupils suffer home sickness and others have to adjust to a different culture
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ICT MATTERS > MOBILE TECHNOLOGY
UPWARDLY MOBILE With increasing numbers of schools using mobile devices, the array of products on offer can be overwhelming. Carrie Service discusses the options for schools on a budget and what else they should consider when going wireless
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ICT MATTERS > MOBILE TECHNOLOGY
ore and more schools are now looking at implementing mobile devices in their classrooms as it provides a costeffective alternative to purpose-built IT suites, which can be pricey and inflexible. Wireless internet now allows schools to use smaller, more versatile devices in lessons – such as netbooks, laptops and tablet computers allowing for a much more flexible approach to IT. Gone are the days of schools fitting out entire rooms with fixed, desktop PCs: The age of the mobile device has arrived. Embracing the latest in technology can be costly for schools and may seem like an uphill struggle at times as newer and more expensive technology is constantly being released. However, going wireless and bringing in mobile devices may not be as costly as you think, and could in fact save you money. Fitting out a purpose-built IT suite can cost anything from £10,000 to £30,000 when all of the extras such as desks and air conditioning have been considered. You may be left with a shiny new classroom to teach ICT or computing, but the space then becomes completely dedicated to that subject and can’t very easily be used for any other purpose. If, however, you choose to have wireless internet installed and purchase a number of devices, it could be as little as half the cost. It also means that you won’t lose a classroom, and the devices can simply be taken wherever they are needed. This is something that we are starting to see more of as desktop computers gradually lose their appeal, says Andrew Mulholland of D-Link: “More and more schools are becoming device-led due to the explosion of tablets and smartphones. Schools are increasingly moving away from desktops and dedicated IT suites as online learning is becoming an anytime and anywhere activity.”
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ICT MATTERS > MOBILE TECHNOLOGY
Although not all pupils can be expected to have their own tablet computers and laptops, the fact is that a great many do, and this should be taken advantage of IS THE TABLET ALWAYS THE CURE? Although, as Mulholland says, tablets and smartphones have helped to drive the changes we are seeing in educational IT, it doesn’t mean that schools have to invest in expensive tablet computers in order to take advantage of mobile technology: netbooks are an accessible and affordable alternative. PCPro a website that provides reviews, advice and expertise on computing, features an article by Simon Fisher about the benefits netbooks can have for schools, particularly those who don’t have dedicated funds for ICT: “As schools look to improve their ratio of computers to pupils at a time of shrinking budgets, netbooks can be an attractive option,” says Fisher. “Despite competition from tablets and budget ultraportable laptops, netbooks arguably provide the best balance between cost, mobility and usability, combining a small form factor with a physical keyboard and a relatively low purchase price.” Fisher explains that netbooks can be a great alternative to laptops or tablets, as long as schools understand what they will and won’t get from a netbook: “Size and weight are key differentiators. Typically, netbooks weigh between 1.1 and 1.5kg, dramatically less than the two to 2.5kg of the average laptop… Netbooks don’t usually offer the same level of connectivity as fullsized laptops, but the basics are usually well covered.” It’s also worth remembering that devices are constantly changing, so buying fully functioning laptops may not be a wise investment anyway. GOOD NETWORKING With the above in mind, it is important that you have the infrastructure to handle newer technologies and the sort of data levels they require. “The devices that pupils will likely be using in two years’ time will be different from those they are using today,” says Mulholland. “Therefore, schools need to ensure that they can manage all these devices and that their network infrastructure can support them in the future.” It’s all very well having the best technology money can buy, but if pupils find that they can’t get online when they want, or download the resources they need, then the purpose is defeated. “This proliferation of devices is giving school IT departments more grey hairs as they need to be able to manage their wireless networks effectively and ensure staff and pupils are able to access them as required,” adds Mulholland. “Using the latest wireless controller products can allow schools to better scale their wireless access points in a way that guarantees security and also saves power. Furthermore, IT departments can save a lot of time and money as they no longer have to manage access points manually.” TOUGHEN UP If you are a prep school, it might also be worthwhile thinking about how resilient the products you are buying are. Although iPads are 40 INDEPENDENT EXECUTIVE | MAY/JUNE 2012
great and present endless learning opportunities for young and old, that shiny flat screen is just begging to be cracked. There are robust notebooks on the market designed to withstand bumps and knocks so are suitable for younger years. Some boast a screen that can also be flipped, converting it to a tablet if you wish. “Features include an enhanced WebCam, water resistant keypads and screens, antishaking technology and enhanced durability to withstand drops from waist height, giving peace of mind to teachers when they hand over an expensive piece of equipment to young children,” explains James Bird, CEO of Stone, of his company’s model. Some small children might not cope as well with touch screen devices, so an adaptable notebook like this is a good option to cover all areas. Using mobile devices does present one problem – storage. There are many specially designed cabinets that provide a solution to this. A lockable cabinet on wheels will safely and neatly store laptops or tablet computers whilst having the added benefit of being moveable. There are even some varieties that can charge the devices whilst storing them so that there isn’t a fight for the power sockets every time the devices are brought out. BRING YOUR OWN Many schools are now encouraging children to bring in their own devices. Although some may be a little wary of introducing the concept, it can have genuine benefits for both the school and the pupils. Children have a completely different relationship with technology than they did ten years ago, and the internet has become the main (if not sole) means of communication and entertainment for most. Although not all pupils can be expected to have their own tablet computers and laptops, the fact is that a great many do, and this should be taken advantage of. Allowing devices to be brought in from home can allow pupils access to brand new technology, without affecting the budget. It also makes logistical sense for children to use the same device for work and for leisure as it means that everything is always accessible to them – there can be no excuses for incomplete homework if the lesson has been done using their own laptop. In addition, allowing children to bring in the device they usually use for fun can help them to associate learning with play, which is a powerful teaching tool. Whether or not this is something that your school can accommodate will of course depend on your IT infrastructure and the level of technical support you have, as dealing with various devices from numerous suppliers can be problematic. If you’re interested in the idea, why not trial it with the older pupils and see how they fare? This will also give you the chance to try out different devices without having to buy them, helping you to make a more informed decision if you do decide to buy.
ICT MATTERS > DATA SECURITY
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ICT MATTERS > DATA SECURITY
How secure is your school’s data? ICT expert Paul Evans looks at tougher new penalties for breaching data protection laws and the technologies available to ensure schools remain compliant as the use of mobile devices continues to grow
here have been a number of news stories recently about high profile data loss incidents in the public sector. These stories increasingly involve laptops being taken off premises. One such incident last year saw London Councils of Ealing and Hounslow fined £150,000 after two laptops, containing the details of almost 3,000 individuals, were stolen from an employee’s home. There was no evidence to suggest the data was accessed by a third-party but as the laptops were simply password protected with no encryption the councils were fined for breaching the Data Protection Act (DPA). Similarly a school in Oldham breached the act after an unencrypted laptop was stolen from a teacher’s car while it was parked outside their home, leading to sensitive data relating to 90 pupils falling into rogue hands. The school was also required to sign an undertaking to ensure that portable and mobile devices used to store and transmit personal data are encrypted using appropriate software. Staff will also be trained on how to follow the school's policy for the storage and use of personal data, and the school has agreed that its policies on data protection and IT security issues will be appropriately and regularly monitored. Under a Ministry of Justice ruling, organisations can now be fined up to £500,000, 100 times more than the previous maximum fine of £5,000. The organisation charged with enforcing compliance with the DPA and imposing fines is the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The DPA requires all organisations to have appropriate security to protect personal information against unlawful or unauthorised use or disclosure, and accidental loss, destruction or damage and the ICO has powers to change the behaviour of organisations that collect, use and keep personal information and are able to fine those who fail to adequately protect personal information they hold. With these new ICO powers to impose fines and enforce undertakings, as well as the bad publicity and embarrassment that has come from the news headlines surrounding data breaches, schools cannot afford to underestimate the importance of ensuring all devices securely store and backup data and are able to protect and/ or destroy information taken outside of the school boundaries. The explosion in the use of personal devices and laptops, and increasing mobility of teachers and school staff, means sensitive school or pupil information is increasingly stored on rogue devices, often with little or no data protection. Few teachers back up the data stored on a daily basis and the information is held on portable devices which, in many cases, do not have adequate protection against device loss and data is unprotected, with little encryption, which extends the risk of data breaches outside the workplace. Schools need to make sure they are securing any device that contains sensitive data, data which could cause damage or distress to individuals, PCs, laptops, tablets or smart phones. The DPA dictates that computer security measures must ensure that if personal data is accidentally lost, altered or destroyed, it can be recovered to prevent any damage or distress to the individuals concerned and where the information held on a portable device could be used to cause an individual damage or distress it should be encrypted. There are various technologies available, see box out for my pick of the best technologies around.
Schools cannot afford to underestimate the importance of ensuring all devices securely store and backup data and are able to protect and/ or destroy information taken outside of the school
1. AUTOMATIC ONLINE PC BACKUP AND RECOVERY Back-up-as-a-service can offer fully automated, encrypted backup and recovery services online, which allow schools to back up their data on and off site over the internet. This can also eliminate capital expenditure and offer reduced operational costs compared to running backup and recovery in-house. 2. AT REST ENCRYPTION Files and folders selected for backup are automatically encrypted as well as metadata to ensure no sensitive information can be gleaned, enabling you to be fully compliant with the DPA and the strictest data privacy legislation. 3. REMOTE DATA DELETION Enables you to delete files in the backup dataset remotely if a device is lost or stolen without needing the device to come online, whilst also allowing you access to recent backups of any files you have deleted, safe in the knowledge that the sensitive data is encrypted. 4. PORT ACCESS CONTROL Port access control makes sure sensitive information doesn’t leave the device or enter the device if it shouldn’t contain sensitive information. It allows you to prevent unauthorised USB use and control access through any port or media including CD/DVDs, USB, serial, Bluetooth and wireless ports, as well as letting you enable read or write access only or lock down a port completely on a user by user basis. 5. DEVICE TRACING Tracks the location of a laptop or desktop if it connects to the internet after being lost or stolen, enabling schools to recover lost or damaged information, protect information at rest, delete information before it gets in the wrong hands and enforce data leak prevention policies.
Paul Evans is MD of Redstor INDEPENDENT EXECUTIVE | MAY/JUNE 2012 43
ICT MATTERS > TECHNO GEEK
Finding your voice online In the first of a two part series, Techno Geek asks ‘How do you find your online voice?’
o your school has a website, maybe a blog, and is ready to start tweeting. Then comes the moment of realisation: What do we write about, and how do we keep it interesting? It can be tough to know how to go about updating your online presence and ultimately making it a worthwhile enterprise. It’s no good putting your time and effort into writing a blog without people reading it. Part of making any foray into the ‘online conversation’ successful, be it for your school or as yourself on the www, is to find your ‘online voice’. It’s the key to building successful bridges in the internet world. There are a couple of different ways to approach this, and it’s important to find a way of doing it that you, and indeed the school are comfortable with. I would recommend not taking the Charlie Sheen, ‘all guns blazing’ approach. It’s good to be honest and genuine, but there is a line, as in any situation, that Mr Sheen lost sight of a long time ago. Here is my handy guide to finding your ‘online voice’. RESEARCH WHAT OTHERS ARE DOING Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery after all. By seeing how people handle themselves in different spheres, be it twitter, on a blog or whatever, it will give you an idea about what you like and what you don’t and how you would like to go about it. A PERSON OR AN ORGANISATION One question you’re going to come across
fairly quickly is how are we going to do this? Should we blog or tweet as a collective or as an individual person. I think the natural instinct is to think that we should blog as ‘the school’, which in many cases is entirely appropriate. There is also a strong argument for having one person being nominated to represent the school as the online personality, as it enables you to engage in a real way, and people know whom they’re talking to. BE HONEST AND GENUINE It’s important to think about how you want to be seen online, and a good way to think about your online doings, is to think of it as a very large conversation. In a conversation people can tell when you’re being genuine and when you’re not. Even when people are being negative about you, respond in a positive manner. People respond well when they think they’re talking to people, they don’t when they think there talking to a faceless online entity. RESPOND AND BE INTERACTIVE Once you have found your voice, don’t just shout out at people; remember this is an online conversation. You need to listen to people’s feedback and respond in an appropriate manner. By engaging with people online it not only helps you develop your voice, but also helps build your online reputation, which is ultimately what this is all about. For example, rather than just talking about what you’re doing, ask what others are doing and show genuine interest in it.
The NEC Solutions Showcase
Follow us @ i_exec for the latest news updates and insight into the issues that affect the role of the business manager.
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The NEC Solutions Showcase held at The O2 on 25th April, once again provided inspiration for visitors to achieve successful and innovative education display solutions with 3D interactive teaching tools and collaborative learning techniques for the classroom to campus-wide digital signage solutions. Visit www. showcase-nec.com to see videos and download the brochure plus links to discover more about NEC education display solutions.
INSPIRED MINDS > CASE STUDY
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INSPIRED MINDS > CASE STUDY
Julia Dennison speaks to Lynda Powell, director of campus management and commercial services at Glyndŵr University, to find out how the institution has done so well and what a recent government funding cut means
lyndŵr University is run in a unique way when compared to other higher education establishments. The £44m turnover university (it gained university status in 2008) is very much run like a business and as such stays profitable, despite having a healthy 700 members of staff, striving to always achieve a surplus of at least three per cent, which it invests into expansion. While many higher education establishments struggle with debt, this community-focused university in north east Wales has recently taken the daring step of buying the oldest international football ground in the world, simultaneously saving the town's famous club and laying the foundations to attract top sports students and climb the league tables. It also takes pride in its customer-service approach to its student relations. MOVING ON UP As one of the fastest-growing universities in the UK, Glyndŵr has developed a range of facilities, from North East Wales to London, which are used by students, industrial partners and the public. Plas Coch Campus, in Wrexham is the larger of the university’s two sites in the town and houses a wide range of its courses, as well as facilities including the Centre for the Creative Industries, Centre for the Child, Family and Society and the newly acquired Glyndŵr University Racecourse Stadium, while its North Wales School of Art & Design is based a 10-minute walk away. In Wrexham, the institution hosts over 8,000 students, full- and part-time, with just over 600 of them living in residential halls. That's not all. Glyndŵr University also has facilities for landbased learning at its campus Northop, Flintshire, while elsewhere in the county the Advanced Composite Training and Development Centre at Airbus is the result of a partnership between Glyndŵr University, Airbus, Deeside College and the Welsh Government. At St Asaph the university has OpTIC Glyndŵr, a leading centre for the research and development of opto-electronics technology. Furthermore, after an acquisition of the London School of Management and Science last year, Glyndŵr has expanded into the capital to offer undergraduate and postgraduate courses in a variety of subjects and plays host to more than 1,000 students representing 50 different nationalities. On top of this, the university has been developing partnerships with universities overseas as well. THE ‘I’ IN TEAM An expanding university like this needs all the help it can get, and relies heavily on the hard work of staff members like Lynda Powell, who, in her role as director of campus management and commercial services, has a raft of regular responsibilities. Her job encompasses everything from looking after the campus buildings in Wrexham, including student accommodation; the campus nursery; and retail outlets like its print, book and art shop, to marketing, health and
safety, facilities management and overseeing the running of the new stadium. The volume of her responsibilities comes with longstanding experience. Although she’s been in her campus management role for 12 months, she has worked for the university for 10 years, starting in the position of conference and catering manager, having previously worked in the hotel industry. Her background in business came in handy, seeing the catering operations at Glyndwr’s former incarnation as North East Wales Institute of Higher Education (NEWI) transform from deficit to surplus. Of course she does not do all this alone. She has a management team of 10 to cover all these areas. MOVEMENT FROM THE TOP Some of the push for recent expansion came from government. In July 2011 Wales’s minister for education and skills, Leighton Andrews, published the Higher Education Council for Wales’ (HEFCW’s) advice on the recommended structure of the higher education sector set out in the Future Structure of Higher Education in Wales report. This report contained the recommendation that Glyndwr University should develop strong structural relationships with a range of further education colleges within a group structure led by Aberystwyth and Bangor Universities. This is currently still under review. “There has been a government push for universities [in Wales] to grow and assist the economy,” explains Powell. “We’re the university of North Wales and so we’re trying to grow ourselves to become a bigger university and to remain independent as a university.” This comes with its challenges as, while most universities in Wales will see a small rise in funding for the next academic year because of the income that will be generated from higher tuition fees, Glyndwr University will see a 20% cut in its government budget. While the university is understandably disappointed, it came as no surprise. “We were expecting that the grant would be dropped in line with the new fee structure,” admits Powell. “And we had been planning for it.” While this drop in funding may balance out slightly with the change in the level of tuition fees universities can charge from the next academic year, Glyndŵr University has taken the radical decision not to set all its fees at £9,000, instead charging different fees for different courses, which means an average fee of £6,643 for 2012/13. “Because we are a widening participation university, a lot of our students come from low income backgrounds, so we wouldn’t be doing our students any favours if we set [all] our fees at £9,000,” explains Powell. “We thought we would set our fees at a responsible level that would lessen the burden of debt on our students and on the Welsh government, actually, since they’re topping up the fees [for students]. We thought we’d do that, while at the same time we’d be meeting the Welsh Government’s social, justice and economic development aims. But because of our lower fees and drop in HEFCW grant, it has left a gap in funds, which is why we’re having to find alternative income streams.”
INDEPENDENT EXECUTIVE | MAY/JUNE 2012 47
INSPIRED MINDS > CASE STUDY
This search for more funding has led to a drive for more students, hence the acquisition of the London campus. Being a university has helped Glyndŵr not merely because of the status’s caché, but also because it means because of changes in UK Border Agency laws that have made it harder for students to obtain visas that allow them to work while they study when attending private colleges, prospective students from abroad can rest easy that this university’s status will allow them to get a job while they’re there. And international students mean more income for any university. Furthermore, the university’s vice chancellor is constantly encouraging Powell to “sweat the assets” of the university by leasing it out to third-party organisations. “That’s really utilising all the facilities that we have on the campus for commercial income,” she explains. “So we very much open up our facilities to businesses, community groups and other organisations. We have quite an extensive arts and entertainment programme that takes place in our theatre and we have conferences taking place here on a daily basis.” This is where the recent acquisition of the stadium will certainly help. TIES WITH THE COMMUNITY Wrexham FC were just hours from being kicked out of the Football Conference when the debt-free Glyndwr University stepped in and bought the 15,500 capacity racecourse ground and Colliers Park training ground – considered one of the best training grounds outside of the Premier League. Glyndŵr did this partly to expand its campus, but also as a goodwill gesture to the local community. “We see ourselves as a community university,” says Powell. “It’s a vital community venue and because it was in financial trouble, the Wrexham supporters trust approached the university to see whether or not we could secure it because they didn’t want to lose that facility. Plus, with it being right next door to our campus, it’s obviously a strategic asset for us. It provides us with extra facilities for our students and not forgetting the profile it brings to the university, since we’ve renamed it the Glyndŵr University Racecourse Stadium, so we get a lot of marketing out of it as well and it strengthens our brand.” This expansion is something that Lynda Powell believes attracts new students and drives up the quality of the education Glyndŵr can offer overall, and, despite a funding set-back, the university still has strategic plans for expansion. This includes a new student guild facility in the stadium, the development of which has been led by the students, as well as the refurbishment of one of the stadium’s stands to incorporate further exhibition and conferencing facilities. On top of this, the university is always looking to diversify to build stronger links with industry and other institutions. In short, Powell remains quietly confident about the future of Glyndŵr: “There are challenges ahead and we have got the higher education review taking place, which is imminent for us and we’ll have to see what the outcome of that is, but I think since we’ve become a university we have demonstrated our maturity and at the end of the day, I think we have been bold and enterprising in what we’ve done and hopefully we can continue to do that.”
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Because we are a widening participation university, a lot of our students come from low income backgrounds, so we wouldn’t be doing our students any favours if we set all our fees at £9,000
INSPIRED MINDS > DIARY
Everybody was Kung Fu loving Kung Fu lessons in schools can help tackle weight problems and challenging behaviour among pupils, believes Jazz Rose, director of London’s J&A Academy and Kung Fu expert. He says Kung Fu could just be the answer to Britain’s obesity crisis
believe the introduction of Kung Fu in schools across England is essential for developments in health and fitness; balance and coordination; self-esteem and most importantly; self-respect and behaviour. In today’s society there are so many distractions that prevent children from participating in physical activities – TV, games consoles, DVDs etc. So for an activity to appeal to children, it has to be fun and engage their minds as well as their bodies. The J&C Academy’s Kung Fu Kids programme meets the national curriculum for P.E. and is based on Shaolin Kung Fu, which was developed by monks in ancient China. The monks were fascinated by nature and folklore, and so created a martial art based around the characteristics and movements of a variety of animals. It is this fascination with nature that they use to engage your school children – by mimicking tigers, eagles, cranes, snakes and dragons, your children will have great fun while learning the basics of Kung Fu. At the end of each lesson, they use breathing and meditation exercises similar to yoga to make sure the children are calm, collected, and ready for the rest of the school day. The pupils demonstrate inner calm and the ability to focus during the Tai Chi section at the end of each lesson. These lessons have been very beneficial to the children and a true success. Kung Fu Kids is a 100% non-contact martial arts programme that promotes fitness, discipline, respect and endeavour. While the
50 INDEPENDENT EXECUTIVE | MAY/JUNE 2012
JAZZ ROSE IS DIRECTOR OF J&C ACADEMY IN NORTHOLT, GREATER LONDON AND A PARTNER OF KUNG FU KIDS LONDON
moves used form the basics of self-defence, the qualified instructors with over 20 years’ experience teach them in a different context – with an emphasis on helping children to: • Enjoy exercise • Build self-esteem • Understand the importance of team work • Appreciate that achieving a goal requires determination, effort, and commitment • Improve their skills so that they can deliver an end of year performance. The philosophy of Kung Fu (hard work) is an important part of the programme. By introducing children to Chinese fables, J&C Academy helps them to understand the Kung Fu ethos and also teach them to count to ten in Mandarin. As they learn, they come to appreciate that to achieve their goals, they need to work hard and be dedicated and focused. I believe that these important lessons will serve them well throughout their lives. At the start of the Kung Fu Kids programme, the children are set a goal – to develop their skills so that they can perform in an end-of-year show. This is an exciting spectacle that can be enjoyed by everyone. It acts as a motivation for the children during the programme, and provides a clear demonstration of how much they have learned. This is especially true with children who are shy, as the confidence boosting aspects of Kung Fu can help free the performer in us all. Independent Executive is always keen for school success stories. If you’ve got a story to tell, get in touch on email@example.com
As they learn Kung Fu, they come to appreciate that to achieve their goals, they need to work hard and be dedicated and focused