Sweet 16? The year ahead will see change and consolidation in the independent sector

Independent Education Today, 16.12.15, sweet 16? The year ahead will see change and consolidation in the independent sector. Editor Stephanie Broad talks to IE Today's experts. HMC Chairman Chris King, headmaster of leading independent Leicester Grammar School features.

The year 2015 brought the first majority Conservative government in nearly 20 years, and with it an Old Etonian prime minister, putting private school policy even further under the spotlight. What can we expect from the independent sector in 2016? We asked our regular contributors and expert commentators for their predictions, finding that collaboration with businesses and other schools is an important growth area, while continuing to provide quality education and social opportunities remain key priorities.

Chris King, chair of HMC and headmaster of Leicester Grammar School, thinks schools will be doing more to provide life skills, opportunities and financial support. He says: “‘Looking forward’” was the theme of HMC’s recent annual conference, chosen to mark both the association’s growth and optimism and our recognition of the seismic educational, societal and technological changes to come.

"The independent sector, not least HMC schools, greets 2016 in fine shape, with excellent results and the highest numbers of pupils, partnerships and fee assistance in history. But we are not complacent and will not stand still. We plan to use this strength, along with our independence from government, to ensure our pupils acquire the flexibility, problem solving and new skill sets they will increasingly need in the 21st century.

"More immediately, HMC has also identified key areas where we believe we can work publicly and privately throughout 2016 to the benefit of all pupils. These include improvements to: exam setting, marking and grading; pastoral care provision; transition from school to university and participation in and safety of sport. As the new linear A-level and GCSE courses roll out, it will be increasingly important that pupils are taught and cared for in a way which fits them not only for exams but for life. And who knows? By demonstrating our public benefit perhaps we can start to defeat ‘Toffism’ along the way.”

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