Westminster Education Forum

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Priorities for the independent schools sector in England

Morning, Wednesday, 17th January 2024

This conference will look at the future of the independent schools sector in England.

It will be a timely opportunity to examine quality and standards of education throughout the sector as the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) rolls out its new framework, with its increased emphasis on pupil wellbeing and student voice.

With the first schools being inspected this term, delegates will assess implementation of the new framework and the experiences of schools so far.

Delegates will also consider the future for education policy and implications for the independent schools market and the sector’s financial sustainability moving forward, in the context of the Labour Party’s proposals on VAT and end business rates relief.

Further sessions will discuss approaches to widening the reach of the sector, with a focus on best practice for state school partnerships, the development of independent school participation in multi academy trusts, and expanding international sister schools.

We are pleased to be able to include a keynote session with Julie Robinson, Chief Executive, Independent Schools Council.

Overall, areas for discussion include:

  • the independent schools market:
    • sector priorities, including funding and financial stability - tackling outgoings and costs for schools - potential VAT charges and the abolition of tax relief
    • maintaining the competitive positioning of the sector- school mergers and acquisitions to strengthen the position of schools in certain areas
  • new inspection framework:
    • implementation and effectiveness - moving towards a single routine inspection for schools every three years - assessing experiences so far
    • evaluating strategies to increase student voices in decision-making and pupil wellbeing - maximising the role of leadership in shaping school performance and enhancing pupil wellbeing 
  • school curriculum:
    • designing a knowledge-rich curriculum - improving student attainment and child development - use of curriculum autonomy
    • high-stakes assessment and the future of GCSEs - implementing digital assessment across the sector - supporting the workforce
  • widening reach: state school partnerships - involvement with multi-academy trusts - supporting accessibility - international student recruitment and the development of sister campuses abroad

Keynote Speaker

Julie Robinson

Chief Executive, Independent Schools Council

Keynote Speaker

Julie Robinson

Chief Executive, Independent Schools Council


Sally-Ann Hart MP


Julia Martin

Chief Executive Officer, Independent Schools Examination Board

Nick Hillman

Director, Higher Education Policy Institute

Ceri Jones

Headmaster, Caterham School

Richard Berlie

Headmaster,, St Anthony’s School for Boys, Hampstead

Rachel Hadley-Leonard

Founder, RHL Consulting

Tom Lawson

Headteacher, , Eastbourne College