Attain Conference - Programme

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.

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



Coffee, tea and biscuits served in the Map Room.


Welcome to the Attain Conference

· Matthew Smith, Editor, Attain
All delegates will have an allocated seat number in the Ondaatje Theatre.


The challenge of parental demands

· Professor Tanya Byron
Introduced by Vivienne Durham, Chief Executive, GSA
Tanya Byron is a Chartered Clinical Psychologist, journalist, author and broadcaster with notable appearances on television shows Little Angels and The House of Tiny Tearaways. She is a Professor in the Public Understanding of Science and Chancellor of Edge Hill University. Tanya will discuss the psychology of 'parental demands’. 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?


The political challenges

· Rt. Hon. David Laws
Introduced by Julie Robinson, Chief Executive Officer, ISC
Rt. Hon. David Laws was Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Schools' Minister and Cabinet Office Minister during the Coalition government. He is now Executive Chairman of the Education Policy Institute (EPI). David will explore the political challenges facing the sector in the next few years. 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?

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Coffee & Networking

Coffee, tea and biscuits served in the Map Room.


The challenge of public perception

· Dr Tim Hands, Headmaster, Winchester College
· Dr Felicia Kirk, Headmistress, St Mary’s Calne
· James Priory, Headmaster, Tonbridge School
Chaired by Matthew Smith, Editor, Attain
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?


The higher education challenges

· Chris Millward, Director for Fair Access and Participation, The Office for Students
The Office for Students (OfS) is the independent regulator of higher education in England. At the beginning of the year, the OfS published a new report setting out how the access gap at the most selective universities will almost halve in the next five years if universities meet the ambitious new commitments they have made on equal opportunities. What does this mean for independent schools? Chris Millward, Director for Fair Access and Participation, will outline their plans and take questions from the audience.


The challenge of greater accountability

· Shaun Fenton, Headmaster, Reigate Grammar School
· Heather Owens, Headmistress, The Kingsley School
· Jane Prescott, Headmistress, Portsmouth High School GDST
Chaired by Vivienne Durham, Chief Executive, GSA
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?

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Lunch & Peer-to-Peer Networking

Served in the Main Hall (with seating in the garden, weather permitting).
Join with colleagues from schools across the country for an opportunity for peer-to-peer advice and support on a range of topical communications and marketing issues. Led by experts from our Steering Group, who all work in communications and marketing, these informal group discussions over lunch are an opportunity to make new contacts, exchange ideas and find solutions to common problems. Our hope is that everyone attending the Attain Conference will leave having made new acquaintances and gained new ideas to take back to their schools. We will be serving a varied menu for lunch, with a glass of wine, so delegates can relax as the formal part of the conference comes to a close.


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