Attain Conference 2020 - 15th May 2020

Building on the success of Pressburst Live, the Attain Conference is a communications strategy conference for Heads and senior staff focused on the challenges facing the sector in the year ahead: political challenges, public perception, parental demands, affordability, and greater accountability.

The Attain Conference will be held at the Royal Geographical Society, South Kensington, London.

1. The political challenges

Keynote: Rt. Hon. David Laws

The independent sector is under unprecedented political pressure. Not since the 1980s has the clamour of calls for independent school reform been so strong yet the stereotyped image of the sector is simply wrong. How can independent schools play their part in the wider education system? How can they best deliver on their charitable objectives and be engines of social mobility? And how should individual schools make sense of the current political environment?

2. The challenge of public perception

Roundtable: Tim Hands, Felicia Kirk and James Priory

The independent sector has an image problem – it is perceived as elitist, out-of-touch and the preserve of a privileged few. These notions are reinforced by the media and politicians alike to serve a political agenda which poses a significant threat to our schools. How should schools frame their communications in a hostile media world?

3. The challenge of parental demands

Keynote: Professor Tanya Byron

Independent education is a unique commodity in so far as the consumer is not the one footing the bill. This falls to parents who have the double-interest of both financial and emotional investment in the chosen school for their child. Parents naturally want the best for their children but balancing the relationship between school and parent is critical. How should schools approach this for the benefit of everyone – and what lies behind the psychology of parental demands?

4. The affordability challenge

Keynote: Economics Expert (TBC)

Independent education is a very expensive option for parents, with many making huge financial sacrifices in order to pay the fees. The stereotype that it is solely the preserve of the mega-rich is untrue but schools do have an increasing problem of affordability. There have been plenty of closures and mergers, with no doubt more ahead, despite collectively contributing £13.7bn to GDP each year. What are the economic challenges the sector is likely to face in 2020 and beyond?

5. The challenge of greater accountability

Roundtable: Shaun Fenton, Heather Owens, Jane Prescott

With an increasingly hostile political environment, independent schools are being forced to ‘blow their own trumpet’ about public benefit activities which previously they undertook without fanfare. How can schools balance the communications challenge of ensuring public awareness without appearing to seek public recognition?