Westminster Education Forum

We are continuing to organise full-scale virtual conferences which retain all the features of physical seminars, including full programmes, presentations with slides, panel discussions and live delegate questions and comments sessions, person-to-person and group networking, and a permanent record provided to all delegates afterwards. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time, so there are plenty of opportunities to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are.
For booking-related queries or information on speaking please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk, or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7538736244 / +44 (0)7951044809.

If you’re already booked on, joining instructions can be accessed from five working days before your conference via the booking dashboard. Need help? You can contact our Delegate Relations team at delegate.relations@forumsupport.co.uk or by calling the above number.

Key priorities for the independent schools sector

February 2021

Price: £95 PLUS VAT

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***
This conference takes place against the backdrop of continuing significant disruption to education across England following the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic - including the latest national lockdown - but with schools seeing an increase in interest from children studying in the maintained sector.

Areas for discussion include:

  • future financial sustainability - prospects for the sector and segments within it in the face of economic downturn, Brexit and other challenges
  • prospects and strategies for growth - admissions, international student recruitment, international expansion and building on the success of remote learning
  • the wider school system - the contribution of independent schools, their positioning now and going forward, outreach and latest thinking on how to advocate the value of the sector
  • COVID-19 - addressing the challenges of the latest lockdown, learning from innovation and the way the sector has adapted, including in blended learning and supporting student mental health

The conference is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials who are due to attend from Ofsted and the Department for the Economy, NI.

The agenda:

  • The independent sector - in the wake of COVID-19 and looking to the future
  • Immediate areas of focus - the return to the classroom, supporting student wellbeing, maintaining quality, and building on success in remote and blended teaching
  • Priorities for the financial sustainability of independent schools
  • The outlook for admissions and international expansion - the student cohort profile, international student recruitment, and development of sister campuses abroad
  • Independent schools and the wider school system - partnership strategies, support and outreach, and the role of the sector in challenging times
  • Next steps for joint working between independent and state schools

Areas for discussion:

  • financial sustainability:
    • financial outlook - policy and sector priorities for supporting the sector’s recovery, as well as how the experience can inform future practice in financial management in independent schools
    • meeting the challenges - looking at examples of innovation, adaptation and best practice, including fee reductions and payment by instalment plans to support families struggling with fees
    • legal and regulatory requirements - the impact of concerns about collaborative price-fixing and the CMA warning, and options for bearing down on schools cutting regulatory and legal corners in the face of financial pressures
  • exports:
    • international student recruitment - assessing the challenges and strategies for reassuring prospective overseas students and their parents on safety and quality of education with the continuing impact of the pandemic
    • international expansion - the outlook for exports and the International Education Strategy, and strategies for preparing for the passing of the pandemic, completion of the UK leaving the EU, and building new and existing international partnerships going forward
  • the sector’s contribution to the wider school system:
    • the sector’s profile in challenging times - with recent developments having brought into sharp focus concerns around widening educational inequality
    • independent-state school partnerships - progress and latest developments in the contribution to catch-up tutoring and improving engagement, particularly with remote learning, educational attainment outside the sector, as well as priorities moving forward
    • remote learning - strategic implications of the perceived success of the sector in adapting to remote education being a factor in some independent schools having seen an increase in applications, including as one of the bases for furthering independent-state school collaboration on best practice and access to technology for remote study
    • the EdTech Demonstrator Schools and Colleges ­- how this programme for improving school-to-school support for adopting the use of EdTech can inform the future direction for improving independent-state school collaboration in remote learning
  • COVID-19:
    • impact - on schools, segments of the market and the sector as a whole, looking at the experience during the pandemic, use of remote learning, student mental health and next steps forward
    • the current state of play - assessing the independent school sector following considerable changes to the wider school and education system as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
    • remote learning - what has learnt from the transition to it increased use, including the impact on student and parent satisfaction, educational attainment, and student mental health
    • learning for the future - what can be taken away from the experience of operations and delivery to inform arrangements going forward:
      • efficiently moving between in-person and online learning
      • supporting student mental health during changes and challenges
      • the possible future use of EdTech post-pandemic

Relevant developments:

  • Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for residential educational settings with international students under the age of 18 - recently published by the DfE
  • the new national lockdown - including closing all primary and secondary schools and colleges, and cancellation of summer exams, with teacher assessed grades and the current consultation on these arrangements and how to support teachers
  • ISC chief executive, Julie Robinson, responds to a letter from the Competition and Markets Authority - which reminded schools about competition law compliance during the COVID-19 outbreak
  • International Education Strategy: global potential, global growth - launched in 2019 by DfE and DIT aiming for education exports to be £35bn with 600,000 international students annually by 2030
  • Anxious middle-classes look to private schools after coronavirus disruption - Guardian reporting on independent schools seeing an increase in applications for admissions due to perceived successes in the independent sector in adapting to remote education

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by Ofsted and the Department for the Economy, NI.
Overall, we expect further speakers and other delegates to be an informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government officials involved in this area of public policy, together with representatives from DfE, alongside teachers, school leaders and representatives from independent and state schools, MATs, education lawyers, SEND groups, EdTech providers, universities, training providers, local authorities, teaching unions, charities, think tanks, academics, education consultants, publishers, parents groups, education businesses, subject associations, and other interested parties.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

This pack includes

  • Dropbox video recording of the conference
  • PDF transcript of the discussion, including all speaker remarks and Q&A
  • PDFs of speakers' slide material (subject to permission)
  • PDFs of the delegate pack, including speaker biographies and attendee list
  • PDFs of delegate articles