Independent School Management Plus - Summer 2022

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s u l MANAGEMENT p Summer 2022








The role of the DSL

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Foreword A

t e con ict pro re e an evolve , in epen ent c ool contin e to pport all t eir t ent affecte t e orrific invasion of Ukraine and its results. In parallel, the associations representing the sector have been speaking to the UK Government about the collective desire within the independent school community to help with the crisis response. This includes offers of school places for refugees and, where schools are in a position to do so, support for extended Ukrainian families force to ee t eir o e a a re lt of t e ian overn ent appalling actions. Brighton College, for example, is offering up to 15 free c olar ip place for rainian c il ren a e etween five an w o ave e t eir co ntr Many schools across the UK have created their own fundraising initiatives to raise money for rainian in nee pil at e in c ool, Worcester, have released a charity single, sung in Ukrainian, to raise money for those affected by t e war o far, p pil acro e in o n ation have already raised £6,500 to support their chosen charity, Save the Children, via the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC). ACS International Schools, Hampton School, and Warwick School are among those that have worked within their local communities to collect donations of valuable supplies, including clothing, toiletries and other essential items. Some schools have greater resources than others, Julie Robinson and it is heartening to hear about the different ways in Chief Executive which schools are supporting the crisis response. Independent Schools Council Our School Management Plus online platform offers a wealth of information. Keep up to date and get involved: • Latest news, regular features and opinion • Monthly newsletter and jobs to your inbox • Contribute your own ideas and opinion • Join our webinars and round-table discussions We are the leading opinion platform for the successful running of a modern independent school. Always keen to hear about t e i e t at atter to o o t, et in to c to ave o r c ool voice heard.






Dr Helen Wright Educational consultant, former Head of St Mary’s Calne and President of the Girls’ Schools Association


Tory Gillingham AMCIS CEO, former Marketing Director at Pocklington School and Marketing and Development Director at St Peter’s School, York Ian Hunt School board member in the UK and Middle East, leader of international educational projects and a contributor to the national press Richard Harman CEO of AGBIS. Previously Headmaster of Aldenham and subsequently Uppingham. Past Chairman of the BSA and HMC Louise Bennett CEO of IDPE (the Institute of Development Professionals in Education) Robin Fletcher CEO of the BSA and the BSA Group Nick Gallop Head of Stamford School, regular contributor to the TES and editor of Politics Review Donna Stevens CEO of the Girls’ School Association.

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Stamfordian Spirit


Critical Friends A governor’s perspective


Partners: AGBIS The Hero Volunteers: Providing good governance


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In Conversation with Mark Taylor Bursar, King’s School, Canterbury and Chair, AGBIS Designated Safeguarding Lead A complex and evolving role

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Inclusive Admissions Building a robust strategy


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Point of View A Sneaking Suspicion



The role of the


In Conversation

Summer 2022 | | 5


Photo credit: Haileybury College


Charlotte Avery provides an insightful narrative on the role of a governor and underlines the importance of the contribution these key figures make towards the successful operation of their school.



currently sit on the Governing Bodies of Haileybury, Mill Hill and also my local inter-church 11–16 comprehensive: three very different yet excellent schools, working very hard to serve their different communities.

Diversity of voice

overnin o ie enefit fro avin in ivi al fro a wide range of backgrounds, both in terms of personal and profe ional e perience c ool oar nee to re ect their constituents: governing bodies need to determine t e alance of e , en er, race an reli io affiliation represented by governors so that diversity of voice and openness of dialogue can be guaranteed to inform the very best of decision-making. Governors may be asked to sit on committees over eein t e finance of t e c ool, overnance matters, bursaries, special projects etc, dependent on their area of interest or expertise. Before each meeting, they will receive a pack of information to digest, so that i c ion an eci ion a in can e efficient in t e meeting itself. In my case, given my role as a headmistress, I sit on the Education Committee, which is responsible for overseeing all educational aspects of the school curriculum, digital strategy, etc. Governors, as volunteers, are generally busy people, many either working full time like me and/or with caring commitments and a range of other interests and so it is best practice to avoid asking governors to sit on too many committees! In independent schools which are charities (which applies to the majority of independent schools), the governors are the trustees of the charity and so, collectively, have responsibility for the management and running of the organisation. Charity trustees are nonexecutive volunteers who need to have a range of skills to meet their many areas of responsibility.

An important distinction

Whilst the overall responsibility for the conduct of a school lies with the trustees, those trustees cannot and should not determine day-to-day management issues. An important distinction arises between governors seeking to acquire a good understanding of the running of the school in order to exercise effective strategic leadership, which is greatly to be encouraged, and governors seeking etaile infor ation in or er to in ence t e a to a management which, with its capacity to inhibit effective leadership, is not good practice. Governors oversee strategic matters and do not meddle in management. As a head, I am aware of both sides of this coin and the need to keep them separate! In essence, governors determine the overall strategic aims of the school, with the process undertaken in close

do not meddle in management

consultation with the school’s senior leadership who will have a detailed understanding of the school’s situation and the aspirations of its pupils and their parents. As all strategic decisions need to be discussed and agreed by the governors, they are involved in a wide range of areas, for example decisions regarding building projects, head teacher recruitment, fee levels, staff salaries, policy changes, keeping abreast of key risks facing the school etc. This means that the work of the governor is always varied and interesting – one moment you could be discussing the most recent public exam results and any plans to improve these, the next it might be plans for international expansion or an upcoming fundraising campaign. As well as the overall strategy, governors must ensure that educational and safeguarding standards are maintained. One key governor role is that of ‘Safeguarding Governor’, whose job is much more ‘hands-on’. They need to maintain a close working relationship with the Designated Safeguarding Lead in the school and to look at documents such as the behaviour and discipline logs, (which include all matters pertaining to the Equality Act 2010), pastoral tracking systems, summary reports from counsellors, nurses, chaplains etc, as well as scrutinising the Single Central Register. This will help them to spot any emerging trends within safeguarding issues.

How do you know?

In-person visits to the school for all governors are crucial in terms of triangulating what one hears at meetings with personal observation in order to answer the fundamental question which is regularly asked by ISI inspection teams, ‘How do you know?’ The ‘How do you know’ question is of crucial importance. A key role of any governor is to act as a ‘critical friend’. For example, if you are chair of a committee, a hugely valuable aspect

HEADS & GOVERNORS of that role is to help shape agendas to draw out key information. This in turn means that the ‘How do you know?’ question is anticipated in Senior Leadership Team reports, which should clearly focus on the delivery of the school’s key strategic aims. If the agenda and accompanying papers are effectively focussed and concise, t i in t rn, will a e overnor eetin ore efficient and questions more focused – and again this is where the skill of the governor in the chair comes in. Your school’s executive team will certainly thank o for eepin eetin ti e efficient, wit ccinct discussion, clear decision-making and effectively minuted action points for easy recall after the event (these are often still being referred to several months later).

More depth

In many cases, governors are also assigned a ‘link area’, which gives them an opportunity to focus on a whole school activity (e.g., Marketing and Admissions) or curriculum area (e.g., History) and helps to ensure that all governors acquire knowledge and perspective in more depth than is possible just through attendance at meetings. In my case, I’m encouraged to come into each school of which I am a governor to meet with the staff involved in my link area and to hear more about what is (and perhaps isn’t!) working well. As I am an educationalist, most of my visits are to teaching departments and it is always interesting to see how fellow teachers address learning challenges in other schools. I have attended staff INSET at one school, as well as attending the professional evelop ent trainin provi e pecificall eac c ool for their governors. An example of such training is a forthcoming morning on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, ahead of a full board meeting in the afternoon.

School culture

One of the elements of their role which many Governors appreciate is the opportunity to become part of the wider school community. Governors are usually encouraged to attend school events, such as art shows, school plays, speech days and the like. This provides a good opportunity to interact with other key stakeholder groups in the school community – the parent body and the pupils themselves. It is clearly helpful to understand the interests and concerns of these groups when making strategic decisions for the school as a whole. School culture is hugely complex, dynamic and constantly evolving and, given recent matters pertaining

Why become A GOVERNOR? • It is a key role in a school community, and is valued as such • It provides you with an opportunity to contribute to your local community • It allows schools to access much-needed expertise – and insights – not always available from within • You can make a difference!

varied and interesting to societal activity beyond the school gates, it is crucial to understand school culture and to uphold what is good about it. At the same time, governors also need to proactively raise questions when actions, activities or events may occur which are at odds with the school ethos, values and culture. Given the times we have been through, I feel it is particularly important at the moment for governors to make sure that they resume visiting the school in person, whether this be via link visits, committee meetings or more impromptu visits. Obviously, this has been hard in recent years, which makes governor presence even more valuable now. Staff and pupils need the opportunity to get to know who is overseeing the strategic direction of their school and, to repeat my earlier point, governors need to see what is really happening ‘on the ground’, rather than simply relying on what they are told in governor meetings.

‘All hands on deck’

‘All hands on deck’ is certainly the rallying cry of the moment as our schools surge back from the struggles of the pandemic! Good luck to all boards out there as we continue to face some stormy weather! Stretching the metaphor, AGBIS, our lighthouse, has a wealth of information and training to support all ‘mariner’ governors currently out there on the high seas. ●

CHARLOTTE AVERY is Headmistress of St Mary’s School, Cambridge and a Governor of Haileybury College, Mill Hill School and a local 11–16 MAT. Charlotte was GSA President 201718. She’s an ISI team inspector and former lay member of the MOD’s Research Ethics Committee. 8 | | Summer 2022

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13/04/2022 12:07



Richard Harman looks back across turbulent times for governors and contemplates some of the challenges ahead.


t was wonderful to be able to gather again in person on 17th March for our 2022 AGBIS Conference at the QEII centre, Westminster. The last time I had spoken on that platform was a few a efore t e fir t loc own in arc 2020. I had just visited a member school to deliver a talk entitled “What Could Possibly Go Wrong”? Well, now we know! But whilst we’ve learned that a pandemic wasn’t high on most of our risk registers, we have also discovered how resilient and adaptable we are. Looking at the world in 2022, we certainly are continuing to live through highly anxious, turbulent times with a series of massive external shocks to absorb.

massive external shocks

We are now working out how best to deliver ‘hybrid’ services to our members, with a mixture of in-person and online offers. Demand is high; the helpline is busy with queries, from TPS to committee structures to relationship issues between Heads, Bursars and Chairs. Governing bodies are engaging our services to facilitate strategy away days, as they recognise the importance of expert input and proper strategic alignment in this

volatile environment. Meanwhile, our full Reviews of Governance are more popular then ever before. Things are changing too in the independent schools’ marketplace, with a myriad of pressures to contend with. We see continued political, media and public perception issues as well as questions of compliance, TPS and industrial relations. eanti e, financial pre re are rowin rapidly for all of us, schools and parents, incl in ri in in ation an ta ation So, given all this volatility and pressure, what should the priorities be for our schools’ governors? Don’t lose sight of the essentials of good governance. ‘Guidelines for Governors’ remains AGBIS’ key handbook; it’s all in there! Then there are my three Cs – Compliance; Culture; and Communication. I might add a fourth – Compassion. It is all about listening well and asking good questions. Commit to memory also the AGBIS mantras: ‘Eyes on, Hands Off.’ ‘Trust but Verify.’ ‘How Do We Know?’ A governor’s role is all about

setting the strategy, not doing the operations. If you are a governor, or want to be, please do keep in touch. Above all, thank you for all you do: the ‘hero volunteers’ of our sector. ●

RICHARD HARMAN is CEO of AGBIS. He was previously Headmaster of Aldenham and subsequently Uppingham. Richard is a past Chairman of the BSA and HMC. Summer 2022 | | 11


BREAKING THE BIAS Donna Stevens restates the transformative value of an all-girls’ school education.


s the expert in girls’ education, The power of girls’ schools GSA champions the best interests The pertinence of an education that puts of girls and women; rigorous irl a ition fir l at it eart cannot research compellingly proves the power e over tate fir l elieve irl of a girls’ education built for girls. The schools help girls thrive and grow into the facts are that girls’ schools are crucial to future women they elect to be. achieving gender equality; They achieve: t e level t e pla in fiel transformative outcomes: “The world should • Girls in classrooms for girls and consistently ca pai n for t e enefit are more likely to be a place where of girls and women, and pursue ambitious every girl can always have. educational goals • Girls excel athletically learn and lead. The Female and have greater chances To achieve this Context for leadership roles ti an we are • Girls achieve a we must ensure five eneration awa disproportionately large our economies, from achieving gender share of the top exam parity at the current grades in the UK societies and rate of c an e n , nternationall e catin education systems girls is life changing: lifting gender bias, whether deliberate or not, still work for girls, not people out of poverty, affects women’s life growing economies and against them.” opportunities, ambitions saving lives and right to equality Malala Yousafazi GSA Alumna, world-wide. This has Whereas: Edgbaston High School nothing to do with the • Girls working alongside innate talents and skills of high-achieving boys that girls and women; The Peterson set their educational goals lower, lack n tit te lar e t ever international rve confi ence in t eir a ilitie , an o le of co ntrie fo n t at co panie well in science and maths in contrast to with 30% more women at the top (at girls in girls’ schools C-suite level) saw a 15 percent increase in • Girls get less teaching time in co-ed profita ilit in ine schools because generally teachers | |


interact with boys more often in the classroom by a margin of 10 to 30 percent

New cross-sector research partnership

GSA’s passion is to fuel generations to come with an education that understands the female experience, and the newly incorporated cross-sector research group is testament to that commitment. The biggest research collaboration of its kind, the working group will be steered by airfiel i c ool for irl , arro ate a ie olle e, a e fiel irl c ool, orwic i c ool for irl , e ai i c ool, t nne at olic i c ool for irl , e enrietta arnett c ool, an i le on i c ool t will teer anal tical ata collection across the educational sector to critically examine factors that enhance or diminish the development of girls in schools and present a national vision, and blueprint, for girls’ education. With up-todate insights and deep-dive reporting, it will serve as a powerful resource for the on-going understanding and development of teaching programmes, pupil-centred resources and toolkits, and positive learning outcomes. GSA’s goal is to create the world as it should be, a place where every girl can achieve and lead; and it is our belief that a girl’s education gifts every girl with the skills and appetite to recognise her full talents, and rightfully realise a brilliant life. ●

DONNA STEVENS is CEO of the Girls’ Schools Association which represents 160 girls’ schools. She previously worked at the Independent Schools Council leading their research department.

Summer 2022 | | 13



MARK TAYLOR BURSAR, KING’S SCHOOL, CANTERBURY AND CHAIR, AGBIS & VICE-CHAIR, ISC Mark Taylor talks to Independent School Management Plus about the critical relationship between governors, heads and bursars and their oint role in securing t e financial stability of their school in turbulent times.


sixth-generation soldier – his forebears fought at Waterloo and participated in the Charge of the Light Brigade – it was the rewarding experience of working with the Junior Leaders’ Regiment for young recruits, towards the end of his time in the military, which drew Mark Taylor towards a career in education. He was appointed Deputy Bursar and CCF Commander at Cranbrook School in Kent in 1993. In the nigh-on 30 years since, Mark has held many i nificant role wit in t e in epen ent e cation sector, including chairing the ISBA and sitting on the boards of the ISC and the BSA. He is currently the Chair of AGBIS and Vice-Chair of the ISC, in addition to his day job as the Bursar at King’s School, Canterbury. As is the case with 80% of bursars wor in wit in t e ector, ar al o fill t e role of Clerk to the Governors. A former pupil at Junior King’s, Mark describes taking the role at King’s Canterbury as ‘coming home’ and pays tribute to the informal and caring environment which the school provides for its students.

Optimum relationship

During his time as Chair of the ISBA, Mark led a working group of representatives from several of t e a ociation w ic evelope an co ifie best practice guidance on the optimum relationship between governors, heads and bursars. Designed to promote proper communication, ‘avoid surprises’ – as Mark puts it – and provide a framework for effective cross-working, the recommended modus operandi which emerged from the consultation has been adopted by schools across the sector. Effective ‘clerking’, Mark believes, should promote transparency and ensure that everyone involved in the governance of a school is ‘kept in the loop’; this is achieved through the implementation of robust processes and aided by the overview which the dual role of Bursar and Clerk, where it exists, provides. Mark sees an effective working relationship between the triumvirate of the head, the chair of governors and the bursar/clerk as critical to the smooth running of any school. He recognises that some heads can feel threatened by the bilateral dialogue between the bursar and the chair that such an arrangement invites, but believes that open communication can mitigate this.

Focus on the big picture

Mark characterises the role of governors as ‘eyes on and hands off ’ when it comes to the day-to-day running of a school but points to their central 14 | | Summer 2022

BURSARS responsibility for oversight, strategic direction, succession planning and future development. Governors need to avoid ‘breaching’ into management issues which are dealt with by the executive team but should focus on the big picture issues. Good governance, Mark states, is primarily about strategic planning given that a school’s plan dictates what its long-term operating priorities are going to be. This is where governors can and should add value. The pandemic has led to many new gubernatorial candidates stepping forward to support their school communities. With the shift online driven by the successive lockdowns, AGBIS has been able to provide training to more than 5,000 governors via 80+ webinars over the past few months. These numbers, Mark believes, demonstrate the increased engagement of governors with the strategic direction of their schools. AGBIS recognises that governors are busy people and tries to tailor its training courses to ensure that they scope out and narrate the role of a governing body in an accessible manner and focus on issues which are relevant and helpful for those giving up their time to attend.

earn from international franchising and how this can be used to underpin far-reaching, transformational bursary programmes, amongst other priorities. The experience and insights governors can bring from the world outside education are essential in these circ tance an pla a e role in efinin an ettin financial prioritie an en rin t at c ool et remain sound whilst maintaining the essential nature of the schools themselves. To illustrate this point, Mark references one of his own governors at King’s who urged that a proposed investment in a new school International College should only proceed if there was a fall-back position whereby the facility could be sold on as a hotel and the original investment recovered if the school’s needs changed.

eyes on and hands off

Fee-income dependency

In Mark’s view, most governors’ meetings today are genuinely effective forums where key decisions are made. an c ool , alrea tr lin financiall in t e wa e of COVID-19, are confronting issues around the affordability of fees and their ability to pass on the cost of living increases which are surging through the economy. Historically, when setting their budgets, schools calc late t eir co t incl in tilit c ar e , taffin changes and development priorities – and then balance their budget by having to correspondingly increase t eir fee t now t i i o c ore iffic lt Schools have got to keep their fees as low as they possibly can as parents, facing many of the same pressures, can’t afford a material increase. This means that schools have got to look at alternative ways of bringing in new sources of income. In this context, Mark urges British schools to look at the experience in the US. In the UK, the average ‘fee income dependency’ is close to 100% whereas in equivalent American schools it is far lower. He believes that US schools tend to have more-established fundraising programmes and that much can be learnt from them. He also points to the royalty income which some schools

Understanding the culture

The mental health of their entire school community – i.e., of both students and staff – has been high up on the agenda of every governing body over the months of the pandemic. Mark believes that in this context, as in so many others, it is critically important for governors to ‘understand the culture of their school’. He talks passionately about the importance of a governor’s ‘ability to triangulate’ and thereby to seek evidence to underpin the information and insights provided in a Head’s report by talking to members of the wider school community.

Summer 2022 | | 15


ability to triangulate Having served on many of their boards over the years, Mark believes that the professional associations work effectively together under the leadership of the ISC, describing Barnaby Lennon, the Chair, as ‘hugely capable and effective’. Whilst, inevitably, there will be different views on certain topics from different parts of the sector, he says it is the associations ‘all sitting around the table, wanting to go in the right direction and achieve the best for the sector’ which has secured the in ence in epen ent c ool en o collectivel wit in overn ent i wa partic larl i nificant rin t e turbulence of the pandemic.

Fingers in ears

Recently, there have been suggestions, not least in the pages of this magazine, that the independent school sector as a whole should become a little more effective in shouting about its achievements and countering some of the inbuilt pre ice o erve in t e e ia Mark acknowledges that some co entator ave t eir fin er in their ears’ despite the excellent data the p li e on t e enefit elivere t e sector. He believes that there is a need to ‘take every opportunity to focus a bit more strongly’ on challenging embedded pre-conceptions, referencing as an example the lazy choice of images of students wearing boaters to illustrate an article on independent schools made by so many picture editors. Mark feels that, collectively, the sector needs to ‘change the emphasis’ and communicate the diversity of the independent school community. He points out that far from being the bastions of privilege characterised by the media, around half of the ISC schools, mostly operating on tight budgets, have less than 300 pupils and are serving hardworking parents from their local community who are covering fees from earned income. He feels parents want choice and this is what the ‘dedicated, passionate educators’ in the sector strive to provide. He also feels that more needs to be said about both the extensive bursary programmes which many schools are able to offer and the excellent partnership working which is undertaken with the state school sector. Independent schools no longer seek to shelter behind their walls – if they ever did. They are very much a part of their local community and seek to engage with it effectively. 16 | | Summer 2022

Tough time

Asked how he sees the future of the independent school sector over the next few years, Mark observes that this is a ‘tough time’ and the sector as a whole is, necessarily, going through a period of regrouping. Lockdown has demonstrated how important it is that a school is ‘commercially-minded and gets the balance between being a school and a business absolutely right’. c ool nee to loo to e a financiall efficient a they possibly can be. As a bursar – and de facto a chief financial officer of an ear tan in , ar a that there are many ways in which this can be achieved. One he favours is an anonymised benchmarking system which allows a school to see how a group of similar schools are performing in different areas, what surpluses they are making and how these are deployed. Schools need to learn from each other and share best practice in or er to ec re t e financial well being of the broad-based sector. There is a lot of support available from the ISC, AGBIS and the other associations which Mark urges schools of all sizes to draw on.

Grounded in reality

In Mark Taylor, the independent school sector has an advocate who has seen and done much and whose impact has stretched well beyond the schools in which he has worked. Nevertheless, refreshingly, one of his guiding principles remains to keep asking questions. Whether you are a governor, a head or a bursar, Mark’s advice is to keep asking yourself and those around you ‘how do you know?’ – thereby making sure your decisions are grounded in reality. ● Photos: courtesy of King’s School, Canterbury.

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DESIGNATED SAFEGUARDING LEAD A COMPLEX AND EVOLVING ROLE Dale Wilkins explains why, in some senses, the safeguarding lead in any school has prime responsibility for every aspect of student welfare.

18 | | Summer 2022



ince the early days of school inspections it has been a school’s responsibility to have proper procedures relating to ‘child protection’. A co-ordinated set of ini tan ar wa fir t intro ce for boarding schools in 2002. At its core was the requirement for every school to have a ‘designated senior member of staff ’ responsible for safeguarding, including liaising with appropriate authorities such as ‘social services’ and the police. In many senses, therefore, the role of Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL), or equivalent, has been with us for at least 20 years and, in some form or another, in all regions of the UK. More recent is the inexorable development of the scope and depth of the responsibility and the fact that many DSLs cannot now reasonably f lfil t e role wit o t a considerable team of deputies and other welfare staff around them. Central to this has been the move away from a focus solely on child protection – the basic duty to protect c il ren fro i nificant harm – towards a much broader duty to focus on child wellbeing, as rooted in section 10 (2) of the Children Act. In a sense, t erefore, now fin t e elve wit prime responsibility for every aspect of the welfare of pupils in the school.

complexity, as have the complicated discussions around who has a ‘need to know’ critical information. This has been hugely helped by the range of very effective and well-constructed software packages which pick up much of the burden. But, of course, any information system is only as good as t e ata w ic i inp t in t e fir t place Equally, they only perform effectively if they have been properly calibrated to ensure co nication i ent an t at evolvin concerns and patterns of behaviour can be tracked appropriately. Also adding to the burden has been the reduced availability of good-quality training provided by local partners, and the subsequent need for DSLs to source or deliver the training content themselves. Equally frustrating can be the complexities of working across different police and local authority boundaries, where the same paperwork can sometimes be required by different agencies in different formats and on different forms, and sometimes with different thresholds for action. The sometimes maligned ‘Common Assessment Framework’ was never ideal but was at lea t a tep in t e ri t irection

a few schools have been left behind

Complex issues

Not only has the scope of the role grown, but the nature of the issues being dealt with has also evolved. Although many schools work very hard on their key relationships with local safeguarding experts and partners, it is clear that independent schools are now themselves responsible for picking up much of the engagement which would previously have been called ‘early help’ given that certain services, particularly around ental ealt , are ver iffic lt to acce because of a hugely increased demand and a much-reduced capacity. Recording and reporting requirements have also grown in

Appropriate status and authority

With the role having evolved so much, and in so many different ways, schools have had to respond rapidly to developments. It is unfortunate, but perhaps not surprising, that a few schools have been left behind by the pace of these changes. However, the expectations of the role of a DSL are very clear, not only in terms of evolving practice but also the requirements for the post-holder to have ‘appropriate status and authority within the school to carry out the duties of the post’ and to be given the ‘time, funding, training, resources and support’ they need to carry out the role. Obviously, many schools spread this responsibility across a wider team,

including a number of deputy DSLs (DDSLs), but it is crucial that the core responsibility, particularly for child protection decisions, remains with the designated lead. Key questions schools may consider when crafting the role of a DSL can include: Must the DSL be on the senior leadership team? In England and Wales, it is a core requirement for the DSL to be on the leadership team. It is good practice for all schools. Should the DSL be a teacher? This will depend on circumstances. In many schools all senior appointments are members of the academic staff, so the designated lead will be too – often a Deputy Head Pastoral or similar. In other schools the role will be a standalone with no additional responsibilities. The fundamental requirement is for the person to ave fficient ti e an re o rce to f lfil t e role cce f ll Must the DSL be available 24/7? The requirement is for a DSL or deputy to be available all the time in school hours in term time. This is more complex with independent and boarding schools, and it is frequently the case that someone on the team will indeed be contactable 24/7. It is also essential for there to be proper cover available during any holiday trips and activities. Must the DSL be on site? It is not a pecific re ire ent for a to e resident or even on site. Each school must risk assess what is necessary and appropriate. A school with a large number of boarding pupils would probably choose to have a member of the DSL team on site at all times. Day schools, or those Summer 2022 | | 19

BURSARS with very few boarders, might make other arrangements. The key thing is for all staff at all times to know how to contact someone if they have any concerns. What level of training do the DSL and deputies need? The key requirement is for training to provide all members of the team with the knowledge and skills to carry out the role effectively. For England, Annex C of Keeping Children Safe in Education (2021) contains the core requirements, and these expectations are also universally appropriate. The full list is on pages 147 and 148 of KCSIE. How does the DSL help raise awareness among staff and volunteers? The DSL must ensure appropriate procedures are in place to ensure that all staff have access to and understand the key documentation, which includes the child protection policy and, in England, Part 1 or Annex A of KCSIE. Also vital is the school Code of Conduct for staff and volunteers. The DSL must also ensure that staff have access to appropriate training, and this must include a full understanding of the DSL’s own role. What are the DSL’s responsibilities in relation to recording and reporting? Any information which needs to be shared should be shared with consent where possible but must comply with the relevant requirements that it be shared accurately, proportionately, adequately and in a timely and secure fashion. All information, including decisions to share or not to share, must be recorded properly, and any information systems should give appropriate access to those who ‘need to know’. These are complex issues, and schools should routinely review their procedures. What about working with local partners? One of the key responsibilities of a DSL is to work closely with those in other agencies, such as external experts and services, social care, health services and the police. The importance of this aspect of the role cannot be underestimated. here do parents and carers fit in A vital part of the role is to ensure there are fficient proce re in place to liai e with parents and carers in all matters relating to their child. 20 | | Summer 2022

Designated Safeguarding Lead Key training requirements • The assessment process, including any local criteria • Working knowledge of local procedures • Recognition of the importance of information sharing • Understanding the lasting impact of adversity and trauma • Awareness of the s ecific needs of children with particular

vulnerabilities, including online • Understanding the ‘Prevent’ duty to protect children from radicalisation and exploitation • Obtaining access to appropriate resources • Creating a culture of listening to children which takes account of their wishes and feelings (including an understanding of what prevents children from approaching staff)

focus on child wellbeing What are the responsibilities of the wider leadership team? The Head and other school leaders have an essential role in ensuring the DSL is fully supported in all aspects of the role and that there is appropriate scrutiny and collective ownership of wider policy and decisionmaking. Leaders make a vital contribution to the oversight of good safeguarding practice by providing professional support for and appropriate scrutiny of those undertaking the role. They also drive the core expectations relating to the overall safeguarding culture within a school, where everyone knows ‘it could happen here’ and everyone is ready to act on any concerns. This is the fundamental reason why an inspection failure for safeguarding is considered also to be a failure of leadership and management. The DSL team should expect and require robust scrutiny from their leadership colleagues, but are also entitled to expect suitable support. How about the safeguarding governor? Most schools have a governor with lead responsibility for safeguarding and/or child protection. The lead governor is responsible for scrutinising all essential policies, procedures and practices, for holding the relevant staff to account and for reporting as appropriate to the wider board. It is essential that the person in e tion a , or i iven, fficient knowledge and training to discharge the

role successfully, and that the wider board ensure that this person is carrying out those duties effectively. Who is ultimately responsible? Governing bodies and proprietors have the ultimate responsibility. and must ensure that their schools are complying with their duties under legislation and guidance. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) recommended that there must be ‘openness to external scrutiny, transparency and honesty within the governance arrangements’ and that t e a ilit of overnor to ave iffic lt conversations must be secured. Most of all, however, the board is responsible for ensuring that there is a whole school approach to safeguarding. ● * Where I use the term DSL, this can equally be applied to a Designated Senior Person (DSP) in Wales, Designated Child Protection lead in Scotland and for other terminology elsewhere in the world

DALE WILKINS is Director of Safeguarding, Professional Development and Accreditation with the BSA and the BSA Group


RESPONDING TO TIMES OF CRISIS Boarding schools have been in a state of nearpermanent crisis management for over two years; Robin Fletcher praises their response.


e nece ar lea in ti e for a a ine article ean a writin t i piece at t e tart of arc for p lication in a write, t e worl i watc in t e a oni in an i tre in i a e fro raine an earne tl opin a peacef l ettle ent can e fo n ot in co pare to t e terri le fferin of t e people of raine, t oar in c ool are al o affecte t e cri i ere are ore t an , international t ent at e er c ool in t e , incl in an fro raine, ia an nei o rin co ntrie i e li e t i re in t at w ile at one level it i ea to e cri e oar in c ool a a peciali t tran of t e e cation ector an t eir t ent a one all part of a c i er n er ever oar er i a o n per on wit a fa il n t at fa il a e in peril in anot er part of t e worl

Deep experience

oar in c ool can of co r e o little to c an e wi er eopolitic , t t e can o w at t e o e t offer pport to o n oar er at pport a ow it elf in ifferent wa , fro practical a i tance on travel arran e ent an vi a re lation to en ine pa toral care for oar er ealin wit a ver tra atic it ation, w et er or not t e are fro t e co ntrie irectl involve ro t e entlene , li tenin an rea rance of i l profe ional taff, to for al co n ellin fro e pert , oar in c ool ave eep e perience of provi in pport w erever an w enever it i nee e elpin o n people to e re ilient in t e face of iffic lt c allen e of co r e re ire oar in taff an t eir c ool to e re ilient too ver t e pa t five ear , c ool ave ealt wit a erie of on oin an overlappin e c allen e in t e ape of re it,

an now t e con ict in raine ne a to o ac to at lea t to recall t e la t perio of w at i t e e cri e a nor al ti e for oar in c ool an t eir taff, an it co l certainl e ar e t at an c ool ave een in o e for of cri i ana e ent o e ince t e tart of

gentleness, listening and reassurance Crisis management

er anent cri i ana e ent i rat er li e ein an acci ent an e er enc octor w o never et to o o e t i tre f l, ar , iffic lt an rainin , t at t e a e ti e it i a ver oo wa to evelop a et of ill t at can e e in al o t an it ation, c a eci ion a in , co nication an pro le olvin ere can e no o t t at oar in taff will ave all i prove in eac of t e e area over t e pa t to ont , an wit t e worl facin anot er on oin cri i , t e e ill will e evelope even f rt er a , we all ope an pra for a la tin , peacef l o tco e to t e con ict in raine ntil t at appen , oar in taff will contin e to e re ilient an provi e pportive pa toral care ●

ROBIN FLETCHER is CEO of the Boarding Schools Association (BSA) and the BSA Group. Summer 2022 | | 21



BUILDING A ROBUST STRATEGY Coco Stevenson explains why it’s so important for independent schools to operate an inclusive admissions strategy and eliminate unconscious bias in every aspect of marketing outreach and student recruitment.


have been involved in the admissions process in a number of high-achieving on on a c ool an now fir t hand how challenging and stressful it can be for candidates and their parents or carers. The Independent sector is highly competitive where admission to school is often perceived as the ‘golden ticket’ for a successful future. Parents or carers will go to great lengths to ensure that their 11- to 13-year-olds are prepared to excel through the different hurdles of the admissions cycle. I have always enjoyed

the interview part of the cycle the most, as it is such a joy and privilege to meet so many young people at such a pivotal moment for them. I have been interested in diversity and inclusion (D&I) for a very long time and, as a former Deputy Head Pastoral, I regard it as integral to pastoral, wellbeing and safeguarding matters. I feel very strongly that inclusion should be woven through all aspects of school and that it is everyone’s responsibility, not just that of the D&I leader if a school is lucky enough to have one.

failure to respond

22 | | Summer 2022

case STUDY At a former school of mine, we set up an LGBT+ Society for school members with the tagline ‘you don’t have to come out to come in’. We had speakers, pupils gave presentations, we discussed issues affecting the LGBT+ community in the UK and abroad. Students gave assemblies and contributed ideas to the Head of PSHE to make RSE more inclusive. The society gave its members a sense of belonging and security in their school, as well as providing some much-needed opportunity to celebrate their identity. It is possible that there was a correlation between this sense of belonging and members gaining top A Level grades and university places.


Challenges to the sector

D&I has been under the spotlight in recent years with the emergence of #BLM and increased awareness and acceptance of LGBT+ young people. Pressures on schools to justify their charitable status, by engaging in partnerships, contributing to the community and in increa in acce i ilit are not in i nificant Independent schools are also feeling some pressure deriving from generational divides in attitudes to race, sexuality and gender and the perceived onslaught of ‘woke’. This means that some schools feel an increased responsibility to modernise, to bring policies and procedures up-to-date, to diversify curricula and widen their appeal to customers with changing ideals and expectations of education, which includes social justice. Failing to do this gives rise to the possibility of reputational damage in the exposure of past events deemed inappropriate now or a failure to respond to a changed and changing society.

are diverse in terms of religious, cultural, racial and socio-economic background as well as diverse in character, personality and interest, and who will all feel welcomed and valued. It is important to make clear at this point that an inclusive admissions strategy must be part of a wider D&I strategy within the school. It would be very iffic lt to effect inclusive admissions without effecting changes in other areas of the school such as the curriculum, the co-curricular offer, the recruitment of staff and governors, and school policy and culture. Research and data gathering are critical. Heads, bursars and governors know their schools, so they are well placed to carry this out. Collect and analyse diversity monitoring data to track both the current make-up of the school and the applications to the school. Look at where applications are coming from, the conversion rates and the declined offers. Consider undertaking some market research as to why pupils accept offers and why they don’t. What are the current demographics? Do bursary candidates apply? Do bursary candidates pass the examination and interview hurdles? What is the racial, religious and cultural makeup of the school? What do you need to

welcomed and valued Why are diversity and inclusion important?

It is not just about modernising and dealing with challenge. The arguments for diverse and inclusive communities are compelling. ‘Cookie cutter’ or conformist schools could be described as dull. A mixture of cultures, religions, ways of thing and so on creates a vibrant and varied environment, which enables creativity, adaptability and empathy. Equally, exposure to difference – and normalising difference – reduces bullying of ‘non-conformist’ young people. I believe that representation of difference enables all young people to ee t e elve re ecte an create an aspirational environment for all.Educational outcomes are better if students feel comfortable and heard. From a pastoral point of view, a sense of belonging and connectedness is very important.

do to positively attract applications from under-represented groups in your school? It is important to be mindful that there are many different aspects of diversity and each school will need to analyse its own make-up and culture in order to understand what its particular obstacles are to welcoming pupils who are, for example, SEND, neurodiverse, BAME, belonging to a particular religious group and so on. I believe this is particularly important for highly academically selective schools or schools with a very strong identity, as the expectations and the unconscious or conscious biases can be very deeply held. In these instances, what a school needs is a mindset of not striking pupils out but creating the conditions for them to succeed during the admissions process.

Time and resources

Building an inclusive admissions process does take time and requires resources. Schools should look to build this into an overarc in trate over a five ear perio in or er to ee a i nificant change in the admissions process and can i ate profile t i well wort it in order to ensure that bright, able youngsters who would not normally consider independent education have an opportunity to apply, be accepted and thrive.

Getting started

The question is how to ensure that schools are attracting, testing, interviewing and selecting prospective students who Summer 2022 | | 23



• Take a radical approach and provide tutoring on a volunteer basis to potential candidates in Years 5 and 6 so that they are prepared for the process alongside their prep or private school counterparts. This could be on an individual basis or in groups of selected candidates • Apply cultural sensitivity to materials chosen for use in testing so that no young person feels distressed or alienated by images and/or texts and also so that assumptions are not made about the level or type of cultural understanding a youngster has. Think about the names of people used in maths problems or in texts. Avoid religious imagery as not everyone will

have the same religious background and understanding • Consider benchmarking and standardising for youngsters who are state school educated so that a lower pass mark is accepted for interview. This would be the equivalent of university contextual offer • Consider more ways to test which highlight potential rather than testing methods which can be ‘gamed’ by excess tutoring/preparation as well as the advantages that many private school candidates may have such as access to books, access to discussion with highly educated adults and opportunities for extra- curricular activities such as debating and chess club

• Think about including or using verbal reasoning, pattern recognition, problem solving, working memory tests and give weight to how candidates approach the pro le a well a t e final an wer • Consider limiting the weight given to correct spelling, grammar and pronunciation • Consider testing a candidate’s ability to be taught a mathematical concept and how quickly and easily they can grasp something and apply it; this can help to identify prospective students who have ability but who have not necessarily between taught effectively • Consider soft skills assessments such as playing a game which demonstrates how students interact with one another and with teachers • Accommodations and access arrangements must be made for candidates who are SEND

Attracting candidates

• Think about advertising the school in a broad variety of places, for example cinemas and bus stops • Think about the language used in marketing material, for example removing any suggestion of elitism, ar on or lan a e pecific to t e c ool like ‘High Mistress’ or ‘Undermaster’; instead use language which is



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MARKETING & ADMISSIONS inclusive – ‘warm atmosphere’, ‘diverse curriculum’ • Be careful with use of images in marketing material; try to show the existing diversity of the school if possible, but avoid being tokenistic; try to avoid overly depicting formal prize- givings with gowns, grand organs, huge halls and so on. These can be aspirational but can also be off-putting to potential candidates who are not used to the formality and grandness of many Independent schools • Make the existence of bursaries clear in marketing materials and advertisements; let people know that there may be finance for a itional co t li e oo and trips so that bursary places aren’t just about fees • Get out into the community and put on summer schools and taster days; visit primary schools or, better still teach subjects in primary schools; use the existing student body to help with this – sixth formers can teach a subject in a primary school for instance and get to know the pupils and dispel myths about what a private school is like • Build relationships with youth groups and with secondary schools for 16+

entry by making visits, inviting them to summer schools, sharing UCAS education and extra-curricular opportunities

Interviewing candidates

• Have a diverse group of interviewers to minimise unconscious bias and entrenc e attit e a o t fit • Ensure that the interviewing group is small enough to ensure consistency in approach and that each member is well trained in technique • Have a ‘moderation process’ in place whereby a selection of students are interviewed and each candidate is discussed and scored and then the scores are moderated so everyone has a good understanding of the selection criteria and scoring. Often partnership prep schools will participate in this as interview practice • Use a small, cosy room rather than a ran office or eetin roo an ave student work or art on walls, rather t an official portrait an ave a waitin room with staff members and current students present to chat to parents/ carers about the school and create a friendly, welcoming atmosphere

• Allow candidates to wear what they like and have their hair as they wish. This encourages movement away from assumptions about the suitability of candidates based on dress and appearance which may relate to culture or income levels. • Don’t make negative assumptions about lack of eye contact and hand shaking. People may have different customs and shyness or unfamiliarity with adults does not mean that a candidate is unsuitable • Ensure all candidates are interviewed using a small range of materials and questions to ensure consistency • Consider using techniques which cannot be prepared for: memory tests, problems to solve and work through with the interviewer etc. This gives the interviewer the opportunity to assess potential and to see how the candidate approaches a problem or responds to help and how teachable they are • Make the interview experience a relaxing one; reassure the candidate that it is an opportunity to get to know them and see how they think and work • SEND pupils should be given necessary access arrangements and accommodations and be interviewed by a specialist

Selecting candidates

ave a iver e final election panel, again to eliminate bias • Consider using ‘blind’ data so that decisions are made on the basis of testing and interview notes and not names and schools ●

COCO STEVENSON is Director of Inclusion at St Paul’s Girls’ School. She has worked in a number of schools in senior leadership roles including Deputy Head Pastoral at City of London School and Head of Sixth Form at South Hampstead High School. Summer 2022 | | 27


DISCOVER BRILLIANCE MILLFIELD SCHOOL’S AWARD-WINNING BRAND MARKETING CAMPAIGN Liz Webb describes t e massive pro ect ic underpinned illfield s rebranding e ercise and redefined t e sc ool s mission and values.


illfiel c ool la nc e t e i cover rilliance ar etin ca pai n in an ar e ca pai n wa orn o t of a en e t at illfiel wa ovin awa fro it fo n in principle a a ol , pro re ive c ool an a o ew at lo t it wa an it i entit illfiel rep tation for port prece e it an t at i a fiel in w ic t e c ool o t certainl e cel a ove all ot er t t ere i c ore to t e c ool t an it portin ac ieve ent an , to o it tice, it wa felt t at t e e ot er facet were not co in o t in o r ar etin an ran e a in

Perfect opportunity to re-evaluate

wa fort nate to oin illfiel a ea of ar etin at a ti e w en everal e er of t e enior

ana e ent tea were new to t eir role , incl in t e ea a ter, ep t ea a toral an irector of port we ot to now t e c ool, we learnt a o t illfiel fo n ation, it i tin i e pa t an it c rrent irection ollectivel , t i ave t e perfect opport nit to re eval ate an reali n t e e i tin illfiel ran to w at we fo n t e c ool to e t wa felt t at we were ellin o r elve ort in o r ar etin in ter of t e ran e, cope an cale of w at i tr l on offer at illfiel i e an c ool , illfiel a an e ten ive al ni networ an we were ver l c to e a le to call on elp an a vice fro an l illfiel ian in t e c an e a er fiel w o wa ver willin to elp i e an one o r i c ion fro i own e perience of t e c ool i too at lea t i ont ere were everal e t in t at we a to e ta li in or er to ove forwar an il a con i tent p lic facin e a e e nee e to et o t t e c ool p rpo e in a napp tate ent on w we e i t, w at we are ere for an w at we are tr in to o o e wor nee e to convince taff to co e to wor wit , enco ra e parent to c oo e illfiel a t e ri t c ool for t eir c il an otivate t ent to want to e ere

Not shackled by tradition

a o n c ool fo n e in illfiel i not ac le tra ition in wa t at o e ot er, ol er in epen ent c ool are ro o r i c ion , we concl e t at illfiel tr e per onalit a a ol , pro re ive c ool t at i not afrai to e part of t e conver ation or to o t in ifferentl an c allen e t e tat o, a een lo t e aine Imagery: Courtesy of Millfield School

MARKETING & ADMISSIONS in i t fro a oc entar on illfiel in t e 1970s which included interview footage with the founder, o e er , on i et o for illfiel i wa fanta tic material to have as we were able to hear the voice of the fo n er e cri in i rea on for creatin t e c ool

Redefining what Millfield stands for

From our discussions with many stakeholders, we re efine w at illfiel tan for Our Purpose: o rea t e o l a an activi t educator and provide an education and experience that honours the in ivi al i i a o t pushing the boundaries and shaping an education that is fit for t e e an that young people will face when they leave school and enter the wor place t i al o about being part of the conversation on educational reform and questioning whether the current education system is fit for p rpo e t fit with Boss’s founding principle of shaping the school around the child and not the other way aro n From this we t en efine w at we want to achieve and how we will ac ieve it Our Vision: o e the world leader for t e evelop ent of c il ren Our Mission: Discover brilliance in every child, be the world’s best at immersing children in limitless academic, creative and sporting opportunities and be the market lea er in provi in tran for ational r arie


e t en went on to e ta li five ort an clear val e for t e w ole c ool co nit to et e in e val e a ain reinforce t e e a e of rilliance an

shaping the school around the child clearly link our campaign back to the bold, progressive c aracter of illfiel ‘Be Disruptors’ was the most controversial value because, to many, it has negative connotations such as being disruptive in cla t illfiel , being a disruptor means challenging facts you are being told – not just taking someone’s word for it – and seeking new ways of doing things that might be etter i r ptin an established way of doing things for positive effect is a skill needed in life an wor

Discover Brilliance

‘Discover Brilliance’ became the unifying thought, connecting all parts of the school, and the brand marketing campaign was born fro t at t wa n t a million miles away from the previous school marketing slogan of ‘Personal Best’ although this has sporting connotation an we wante to enco pa all fiel fro aca e ic to co c rric lar a well a port We wanted to position Discover Brilliance as a pro i e t at illfiel will elp ever one to i cover their brilliance, including students from ages 2–18, taff, parent an l illfiel ian e wante to communicate that we give children the opportunities to develop a curious mindset which enables them to uncover their brilliance and staff the environment to deliver brilliance in the classrooms, on the sports Summer 2022 | | 29


discover BRILLIANCE Discover Brilliance isn’t just a marketing campaign! Brilliance has been embedded into the culture of Millfield School through a range of initiatives: • The Brilliance Curriculum – demonstrating how subjects overlap to aid understanding • The Discover Brilliance Fund – a campaign to raise £100m by 2035 for bursaries. • The Millfield Brilliance Award – recognising leadership and altruism amongst our students. • The Brilliance Conference – a staff inset module. fiel , in perfor ance an fro t eir e e wante i cover rilliance to eco e t e core tran w ic r n t ro t e c ool co nit , elievin t at ever one a t eir own rilliance tor to are

Creative delivery

o rin t i new e a in to o r tar et a ience , we evelope a creative trate to e e i cover rilliance in all area of o r ar etin e ar etin tea wor e ar to pro ce ever t in in o e Photo credit: Millfield School.

a fresh, modern school ot er t an t e pro otional vi eo w ic wa o t o rce t wit a ver clear rief e pro ce a new creative wrapper, wit all p oto rap an e i n create in o e, for print an i ital a e e tron in le i a e of t ent in t eir fiel of rilliance, re e in t e it t e wo l wear an at lete wit er r le, a at e atician writin a co plicate at e ation, a ancer in f ll piro ette, a trac c cli t on er i e, a ician wit a o le a e wante i a e t at o n people, often t e one now per onall c oo in w ere t e want to o to c ool, co l relate to an feel in pire i wa ovin awa fro o r previo a vert of p pil re e in t eir c ool nifor e c o e ri t pin an l e ac ro n , portra in a fre , o ern c ool t at want to tan o t en o con i er t e i ilarit of a vert in t e e cation pre o will n er tan o r t in in e i a e ive o r le er nown t e all rilliant art an aca e ic epart ent a place in t e potli t an are a eli erate eclaration t at illfiel i for all e in ivi al torie of t e t ent epicte in t e i a e feat re on t e c ool we ite o t at an one can fin o t ore a o t t eir ti e at illfiel an

Summer 2022 | | 31

34 | | Summer 2022

MARKETING & ADMISSIONS what else they are involved in alongside what is shown in the campaign creative. Often students have multiple facets to their school life and so a musician may also be a talented sports person and on the debating team. Prospective students and parents see a person that they can aspire to, relate to and feel excited by.

The campaign

The campaign was rolled out at a London train station, across a supermarket brand and via our social media channels, including Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Discover Brilliance features on our three school prospectus covers, in industry publications, on home relocation websites and, of course, prominently on the school website. The ‘About Us’ tab was renamed ‘Discover Brilliance’ and we create a new pro otional fil i i illfiel e fil narrative tal a o t illfiel a a c ool wit it e e fir l fi e on t e f t re an not t c in the past. It encourages belief in what is possible and presents the school as a force for positive c an e ntere tin l , we create t e fil a o t fo r ont efore t e pan e ic it an t e fir t wor the viewer hears are ‘We live in uncertain times’; this is something that couldn’t be truer at present!


We have seen applications for Sixth Form places increa e in t e fir t ear an in t e second year of the campaign. The school has correspondingly increased in size due to demand for places. We now have to run waiting lists much earlier than in previous years! t a een fanta tic to ee t ent at illfiel an illfiel rep recite t e five val e an , wit o t any prompting, openly talk about discovering their brilliance in conversations with prospective families. e proce t at we went t ro a nifie o r thinking and strategic direction on many levels other than marketing. We have also tried to have fun with the campaign and have thoroughly enjoyed delivering it. As marketing never stands still, I’m sure the next project will be to develop it further! ●

A former journalist, LIZ WEBB had a career in corporate communications and PR in the public sector before moving into education, working in both state and independent schools. Summer 2022 | | 33


STAMFORDIAN SPIRIT COMMUNITY OUTREACH AT ITS BEST Jo Peck and Rebecca Taylor explore the Stamford Schools’ broad-based community outreach programme, which supports both local businesses and residents in the town through a variety of innovative initiatives which deliver value at many levels.


he Stamford Schools, a day and boarding school which educates children aged 2–18, is delighted to have been announced as Independent School of the Year for Community Outreach 2021. The Stamford Schools have been at the beating heart of our namesake town for the past 490 years and counting. Woven into the tapestry of the area, our 50-plus buildings, old and new, and over 60 acres of port fiel , ro n an ar en are 34 | | Summer 2022

dotted on sites across the town. Bringing in over 1,500 students and their families, and around 500 members of staff, the Schools’ presence in the town can’t be missed. We see the entire town as part of our wider Stamford Schools’ community and we aim for our presence to be positively felt by residents, shoppers and local business owners. Community outreach is a key focus for us and the Schools have set up and continue to support a number

of initiatives aimed at maintaining the vibrancy of our eclectic high street and engaging with our wider community.

Stamford Card

e ta for ar i o r a ip community outreach project and has attracted considerable attention, locally and nationally, as an innovative and compelling initiative which allows the Schools to engage with their friends and neighbours in so many ways. The Stamford Card was re-branded from the Foundation Card in October 2019. All administration for, and production of, the card is absorbed by the evelop ent ffice wit in t e c ool to ensure that 100% of funds-raised support can be deployed. The Card truly epitomises the symbiotic relationship between the Schools and the town. The objective of the Card, which is


available to all residents and visitors, is to support local independent traders whilst also providing funding for an education at the Schools for some local children. ar ol er enefit fro per an discounts with local businesses, whilst the funds raised provide ‘transformational feeassistance’ to local children who require means-tested funding of at least 80% of the fees and who would otherwise e na le to enefit fro an e cation at Stamford.

The Stamford Card symbolises what the Endowed Schools stand for – being at the heart of the community. It supports local businesses and shops, whilst helping local children access high-quality education. It has given a massive morale boost to the local area, particularly during the pandemic.” – Cardholder Despite the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years, support for the Card continues to grow. The initiative has over 145 businesses signed up as ‘card partners’, and over 220 cardholders enjoy the enefit of t e ar i co nt tretc from morning coffee, dry cleaning, airc t an wee l oppin to off when buying a new car.


e c ool ave a clo e lin wit t e #ShopStamford Community Interest Company (CIC), which was formed to drive Stamford’s visitor economy and promote the town’s independent retailers an tra er e wor colla orativel to provide a range of promotional activities, including events, training, merchandise and other services, to help enefit t e ine e of ta for , lar e or small. Sarah Sewell, the founder of #ShopStamford, explains: “I founded ShopStamford in November 2018 and we became a Community

the Schools’ presence in the town can’t be missed Interest Company about six months after the Schools became involved with the initiative ince t en, t e ave wor e tirelessly with me to promote the campaign in support of our local economy. The Stamford Card invited local traders to offer added value to our customers to encourage them to shop with us. There is no requirement for all ShopStamford participant to e involve wit t e ar it’s simply a further endorsement from the Schools as to how they value our town and their place within it. The fact that all proceeds from the Card help local children to attend the Schools shows their commitment to Stamford, and recognises the positive impact they are able to have.”

Support throughout the pandemic

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Stamford Schools have remained committed to supporting local businesses. Local companies, including those not involved in the #ShopStamford and Stamford Card initiatives, have been promoted through several online ar etin ca pai n pai i ital campaign was seen just short of 50,000 ti e , wit nearl , clic t ro to a webpage hosted by the Schools. Support has been provided to ine e to fil promotional videos which were shared to t e c ool ace oo audience of nearly 5,000 individuals using the hashtags #ShopLocal #ShopStamford. The Schools have been happy to commit staff resources at no cost to our local business partners. e c ool fil e an online advertising video for Stamford Card

partners in the run up to Christmas 2021, which was viewed over 2,300 times in the final wee of ece er

The Business Directory

The Stamford Schools’ Business Directory is an innovative searchable online business platform connecting businesses and customers within the Schools’ community. Community business owners – whether they are current or former pupils, parents of alumni or current students, or even those in the process of joining the Schools – are invited to list their business. It’s free of charge to browse online and promotes w at nown a ta for ian pirit amongst the community. e irector , c li e t e ta for Card, is fully maintained by staff members in the Development Department of the Schools, with no administration fees passed on to listed businesses, or viewers of the Directory. Over 150 businesses are currently listed within the Directory, with around half owned by current parents, and a quarter by former pupils.

Lecture programme

Our lecture programme is another initiative which allows us to enhance and add value to our relationship with the residents of Stamford – and beyond. Imagery: Courtesy of Stamford Endowed Schools

Summer 2022 | | 35


community outreach is a key focus Education isn’t just for the children. Adults from across the global Stamford community are welcomed to a series of in-person and online lectures on a variety of topics, endorsing our belief in lifelong learning. The lectures are completely free of charge and are delivered by invited speakers who are experts in their partic lar fiel From awardwinning BBC presenter and author, Dr Kevin Fong, discussing ’13 Minutes to the Moon’, to the ‘Lessons from a Warder and his Prisoner’ lecture, presented live from South Africa by Christo Brand, former Prison Warder to Nelson Mandela, there is certainly something for everyone.

Broader outreach programme The Stamford Schools’ broad-based outreach programme also includes: Language Lessons For 10 years we have been running a six-week series of Saturday morning French and Spanish classes for local primary-aged pupils. Our German Outreach Programme has been running for seven years and provides an introduction to German language and culture to local children of the same age, at both state and independent schools. Drama and Theatre Over 80 local primary school pupils are welcomed to view our GCSE ‘Theatre-in-education’ productions, which are prepared by our Year 11 pupils about social issues including friendship and teamwork. Sports Activities A series of sports camps run during the school holidays; these are open to pupils from any school to train, practice their skills and make use

36 | | Summer 2022

of the Schools’ facilities. Most recently, these have included netball and basketball camps for children from Years 5 to 11. Over 250 local school children from seven primary schools are welcomed to our swimming pool throughout the academic year. The pools have also recently become the main training centre for a large local swimming club, whose own facilities had to be closed for safety reasons. Competitions and Quizzes The Stamford Schools hold a number of activities, including quizzes and competitions, inviting local school pupils to get involved and make use of the Schools’ facilities. These have included: • The South Lincolnshire round of the annual ‘Worldwise’ Geography Quiz, which this year involved six local schools competing against each other on a range of geographical rounds. • The ‘Little Genuis’ quiz: this involves up to 20 teams of Year 5 pupils from local schools competing in a series of rounds spanning a range of academic topics. • The local and district rounds of the ‘Rotary Young Chef ’ competition which are held in the cookery

rooms at Stamford, with 13 students travelling from as far away as Sleaford, Northampton, Leicester, Lincoln, Boston and Bedford for the competition this year.

Local causes

The Schools’ community regularly donates to local causes. There are annual collections for the town’s foodbank, the home help service operated by the Evergreen Care Trust and the local mental health service, Stamford Mindspace. The Schools’ charitable efforts are led by a staff committee, and assisted by a group of student Charity Prefects, who volunteer their time to fundraise and support the local community. The Schools feel privileged to be such an integral part of the town, and will continue to support the local community wherever and whenever it is possible to do so. Current initiatives will continue and new ideas are always encouraged and explored. For further information on any of the projects mentioned, visit ●

JO PECK is Head of Development and REBECCA TAYLOR – a former pupil herself – Content Manager at Stamford Endowed Schools.


LOOKING IN FROM OUTSIDE INCLUSION MATTERS! Tory Gillingham urges independent schools to avoid easily made assumptions and ensure that their marketing and admissions activity is truly inclusive.


ow do you make sure your school marketing and admissions activities are inclusive? That’s the question AMCIS and the Girls’ Schools Association (‘GSA’) set out to address in a series of free webinars pecificall ai e at t o e re pon i le for in epen ent school admissions, marketing and communications.

Appetite for practical advice

There is a huge appetite for practical advice on this subject and, while heads, teachers and governors have been grappling with diversity and inclusion for some time, I think correct in a in t i wa t e fir t event to ive pecific support to admissions professionals. As I write this, we’ve t co plete t e fir t we inar for ele ate The content was expertly delivered by Claire Harvey and Helen Semple of the Schools Inclusion Alliance, with insightful input from individual parents and Black, LGBT+ and other organisations – including ACEN (the African Caribbean Education Network) – who gave us the unvarnished truth about their experiences.

Positive impact

There were so many takeaways it’s hard to know where to begin. The biggest, perhaps, was that this is something we must do for the health of our sector. Inclusive marketing and schools have a positive impact on everyone, not only marginalised groups. It’s what children want too. e learne t at t ere i no one i e fit all an no overnight magic wand – we have to do the work. Every school and organisation – and I include AMCIS in this – must be honest and realistic about where they are and where they want to get to. Sticking a few images on our websites does not make us ‘inclusive’, though it can be the beginning of a process that leads us there.


As anyone working in admissions and marketing knows only too well, making assumptions is a dangerous game.

the unvarnished truth Perhaps the biggest assumption which a school can make is that a particular community is ‘hard to reach’. I loved the alternative description – hardly reached or underserviced – and the exhortation to think less about why certain families are not coming and more about what we are not doing to attract them. We were encouraged to consider what it is about our ‘front door’ that puts certain people off, to gather pertinent data, and to reach out to the communities we want to attract and engage with them authentically, in the spirit of building trust rather than one of quick transaction. I loved the reminder about intersectionality, the fact that our faith, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background, political views, physical and cognitive abilities are ALL at work in making us the individuals that we are. Of course!

Better representation

Finally, the call for better representation was loud and clear n in ee , ow iffic lt it t e, loo in fro the outside at a prospective new school, if there is noone familiar there to show you that you’re going to be safe, visible and valued. Anyone can watch the recordings of all three webinars and access a useful handout on the Resources section of the AMCIS website at ●

TORY GILLINGHAM is CEO of AMCIS, the Association for Admissions, Marketing and Communications in Independent Schools. er

| | 37



EXTENDING THE DONOR BASE BY INCREASING PARTICIPATION Henry Cosh recalls a financially successful fundraising campaign driven by a desire to make friends and increase participation.


hen we set out on a community-wide fundraising campaign in early 2020 at Radley, I must admit that we were a little nervous. For the last 5 years, our development function had been mostly a major gifts operation – with about £1.7m raised each year and an average gift size of £10,000 from a select few high-networth individuals. For this campaign – for bursaries and to fund the extension of the Chapel – we wanted to shift our focus: this was to be all about increasing participation. We had two years and an 805 donor target – a far cry from our annual 170. A tall order! We are incredibly lucky at Radley to have a 7,000-strong alumni community that is passionately loyal to the school. Up until this point, most community engagement came through the Radleian Society’s communications and event programme. Meanwhile, the Foundation only wrote to select groups on an ad-hoc basis, and any regular giving programme was virtually non-existent – so awareness of what we do was low. But there was a great opportunity to build on. It was clear from the outset that any community-wide fundraising campaign would mean engaging with all of our 38 | | Summer 2022

alumni, parents, staff and friends in ways we had not done so before.

The campaign basics

The key features of the community-wide campaign were: • Two calendar years – 1st January 2020 – 31st December 2021 • Target of 805 donors (the number of seats in the extended Chapel) • Unpublicised target of £2 million • Two funds – Chapel extension and endowed bursary fund; donors could choose one or both

Building the culture of giving

Where were we to begin? We clearly knew that a soft fundraising message (as opposed to ‘hard asks’) would have to be woven into ever t in o r office i One piece we are really pleased with is the short series ‘Foundation Conversations’. This consisted of recorded Zoom conversations between the Warden (Headmaster) and a mix of donors to, or eneficiarie of, o r f n e place programme. Some were young, some old, some in the UK, some abroad, some alumni, some parents. These conversations were lighthearted discussions about the school, the

Foundation, and what they mean to each of us. We had a few starter questions – ‘Why do you donate to Radley?’ or ‘What has a bursary meant to you?’, for example an t en we let t e conver ation ow naturally. This was then edited down to a 10-minute video and shared to all in the community via email and social media. The best part about the conversations was their authenticity – they weren’t a polished, glossy, lauding of the school and its fundraising. It was just a group of people, chatting away about something important to all of them. And it cost practically nothing. The series also marked, for me as a fundraiser, an unusual way of measuring success. I found myself trawling through Google Analytics, looking at clicks, watch times, bounce rates, all to better understand how our community responded to our content. We better understood their behaviour and it altered what we did next.

Speaking on a level

Getting the soft message right was vital. But we also needed donations! I mentioned authenticity, and this idea was mirrored in our approach to asks. One piece I remember warmly was a short video asking for support for funded places which was to be shared with the whole community. What made it exciting was that this was led by current students and a couple of younger alumni, with just a little creative input (and sense checking!) from o r office e cript, actor , ca era en and editing all came from the students. The result was a two-minute video that I can only describe as ‘jazzy’. With jokes, laughs and just the right amount of chaos, the students effectively communicated the case for support, the importance of the funded places programme and confi entl a e o r al ni for pport t wa rilliant or t e fir t ti e, onor were being solicited without the formal, corporate voice of t e office ettin in t e way. Current students were directly asking former students to chip in and help out. To share this, we decided to avoid email. Following the analytics from the Foundation Conversations series, we had

DEVELOPMENT learned that our click rates weren’t quite as high as we hoped. This was a video too special to be left in the Junk folder. So, to our alumni younger than 60, we mailed an A5 postcard with a single image: the hands of a student, holding a hymn book in Chapel, unmistakably Radley. On the reverse, a single QR code with the simple instruction ‘Scan me’. And that was pretty much it. We wanted to create a sense of intrigue and give alumni the fun task of whipping out their phones to engage with this strange, almost wordless mailing. This proved to be one of our most successful asks of the campaign. The goal was to make giving fun, and we feel this was a success.

Internal buy-in

We undertook a variety of initiatives to engage with staff, including holding focus groups and making announcements at staff meetings. We worked with heads of departments across all areas of the school to really get our message out there and make the donation process easier. Some examples include creating physical sign-up sheets for epart ental office or a in it i pler to donate via salary. In the end, we were thrilled to have had strong support, with about 90 staff donating. This included many teaching staff, but a decent 55% of the total were operational staff.


ver t e la t five ear or o, we ave been slowly dipping our toes into publicly recognising our supporters. Prior to this, Radley was extremely averse to any lauding of donors. Most notably, we have begun listing all donors in our annual Impact Report. Here we record all names by entry year but with no indication of size of gift; nor do we have any benefactor circles or suchlike. We are immensely grateful for all the help given to the Foundation in all sorts of ways – and that does not always mean via financial pport on e entl , we decided in the campaign’s second year – and for all years going forward – that we would also record those who volunteered time and talent to help us achieve our goals.

Central to the campaign itself was the donor board. All who donated to the campaign, at whatever level, were to be recognised on a permanent donor board just outside the entrance of the Chapel. Like in our Impact Report listing, we pecificall avoi e onor circle an tiering on the board. If the whole campaign was about community and equality – that everyone who gives, in whatever way they can, makes a difference – then it would not make sense to trumpet those who have the means to make larger donations. Our biggest lesson from the donor board is simply this: don’t be afraid to innovate. If we are sensitive to the core values behind a certain tradition, then surely these new initiatives will be welcomed.

The results

At the close of the campaign we were delighted to have received the support of some 1,125 donors – 139% of our tar et e et o r financial oal, rai in £2.16 million in cash and pledges. My favourite stat, however, is that we received at least one donation from every single alumni year group – from 1939 to 2016, aged 18 to 96. All of this will be packaged in a neat campaign report to display the fabulous success the community has achieved. We will send this to everyone, non-donors included, and we are so looking forward to sharing the tremendous impact that has been achieved.

What next?

Starting out on this campaign was a daunting task in early 2020, made even

more nerve-wracking with the advent of the pandemic. We need not have worried. These anxieties were soon submerged by a warm response from our community. And by this I am not simply tal in a o t t e fi re collea e and I agree that we have never felt so close to our stakeholders than we do now, an a confi ent t e feelin i t al e, a a evelop ent office, ave better understood their hopes, wishes and feelings for the school. And at the end of the day, it is more their school than ours. So, we used our friend-raising to boost our fundraising. We felt that because we really listened and learned from our community in our fundraising efforts, and sought to involve boys, staff, Old Radleians and friends as much as we could, that we actually made friends through our fundraising. The next stage is about attrition and the launch of a regular gift programme. But I won’t bore you with those plans! The point is this – whatever we might do, we will o it wit reater confi ence, reater friendship and greater kindness with our community. Sure, we will sometimes get it wrong, but if we are genuinely listening to them, things can only get better. There were times when we would put out a campaign communication and a lovely email from an Old Radleian would arrive saying ‘Keep up the good work!’ For them, I hope we will. ●

HENRY COSH has been Development Manager at Radley since 2019.



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WHY RELATIONSHIPS MATTER The foundation of any schools’ development programme is building relationships. Louise Bennett explores the importance of making connections across your community to achieve fundraising success.


elationship fundraising is not new. In the early , f n rai in pioneer en rnett i entifie that donors might want or need a relationship with the cause or organisation they give to – and that such a focus on relationships, and a positive giving experience, raises more money! It may seem obvious, but it is so much harder to ask someone you don’t know for a donation. Therefore, spending time building relationships with potential donors, getting to know them and inviting them to get to know you, is essential for fundraising success. In schools, students, parents, alumni and staff, already have a connection to and, in many cases, a vested interest in your school. But taking time to better understand how different individuals are connected to the school, what their interests are, and what might motivate them to give, means you can provide engagement opportunities (and at a later date, fundraising asks) that are tailored to their interests and motivations. And, as such, these are far more likely to be successful. In fact, many schools are now starting to consider how they record their ROE (return-on-engagement), therein recognising the value of building such relationships beyond the pounds and pence of a donation. From our 2018 Schools’ Fundraising and Engagement enc ar in eport, we can ee t at in t e fir t t ree ear of e ta li in a evelop ent office, t e ret rn on-investment ranges from 0.4–1.2.


However, with sustained investment and taking the time to develop relationships with your community, the return on investment rises to, on average, 4.3 during years 4–6. We can also see a direct correlation between engagement activity and income raised. For example, schools that reported the greatest success in fundraising, held more than the average number of events per year, with those schools that raised more than £1 million running 27 events on average. Equally, there was greater participation in events run by those schools who reported raising more than £500k annually. ●

IDPE 2022 Annual Conference making connections Our role as development professionals is to connect with our community, to build relationships and to inspire people to give, who can then, in turn, pass this inspiration on to their own connections. That’s why the theme of the IDPE 2022 Annual Conference is making connections: how we strengthen our relationships across the school community and maximise on the potential of these connections to enhance fundraising and engagement programmes. Combining the best of both worlds, you can join us in-person on Monday, 20th and Tuesday, 21st June 2022 at the De Vere East Midlands Conference Centre, Nottingham, and virtually, on Thursday 23rd and Friday 24th June 2022. We are once again offering group packages, enabling all members of a development team and school leaders to access the fantastic programme developed by our conference committee. Network with colleagues from across the IDPE community, discuss your challenges and share your ideas. Join us this June to make connections. For more information, visit

Summer 2022 | | 41



In line with the beliefs of Gordonstoun’s founder Kurt Hahn, Lisa Kerr suggests that the path to true happiness for colleagues weighed down by stress can be found through being of service to others.


hrough HMC, SCIS, Rugby Group, BSA and many other bodies whose acronyms trip off the tongue, I speak to a lot of Heads. The uninspiring conversation opener of “How are you?”, once the universal precursor to a pavlovian reaction of “fine”, now generally elicits a weary “shattered”. It’s not surprising; the pandemic has been horrid for everyone, relentless for schools, and unimaginable for Heads, most of whom have not had a proper break since Christmas 2019. Any creeping optimism has been quickly squashed by horror and despair in the face of the Ukraine crisis.

Appropriate self-care

In staff rooms the length of the country, colleagues discuss how to adopt appropriate self-care. We wonder how to create a better sense of work-life balance (remember that?!); we encourage woodland walks, sunrise yoga, time with family and friends. In short, we know we need to look after ourselves and our staff.

And I believe in all of that. But whilst that cocktail of compassion might help with immediate regeneration, I also have a sneaking suspicion that it is not in that

That appeal hardly ever fails direction that true happiness lies. Gordonstoun’s founder Kurt Hahn believed in a different form of education, where young people could discover their sense of self through out-of-classroom learning experiences and, I’m getting to my point here, through being of service to others. That’s why, in addition to offering probably the world’s broadest curriculum, all Gordonstoun students take part in one of the school’s nine services. The most famous of these is the Gordonstoun Fire Unit, part of Scottish Fire and Rescue, which sees students carrying pagers 24/7 during term time. But the other services are just as impressive, from running outdoor education

and sports sessions in local schools to delivering coastal safety awareness training. As our students have emerged from lockdown, it has been wonderful to see them blossom through seeing how their skills, knowledge and hard work can make a difference in their local community. As Hahn said, “There are three ways of trying to win the young. There is persuasion, there is compulsion, and there is attraction. You can preach at them: that is a hook without a worm. You can say, You must volunteer, and that is of the devil. You can tell them, You are needed. That appeal hardly ever fails.” As adults, as teachers, we too are needed. And I believe that our recovery from the pandemic, our sense of identity, and our self-worth, will ultimately be restored by putting our shoulder to the wheel and doing what we do best; being of service to children and young people. Yes, we are tired, and yes, we have experienced unimaginable stress, but we have shown what we are made of. And, along with a bit of TLC, we will be energised and renewed by seeing the impact of what we can do for the next generation. ●

LISA KERR is a businesswoman who had her own media and communications consultancy and multiple directorships, including the Vice Chair of Scottish Opera, before becoming Principal of Gordonstoun in 2017.

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