primary & secondary education

4th Annual Independent School Standards Forum

primary & secondary education

08:45 - 16:10

Tuesday 2 July 2019

Central London

This Forum will bring together leaders from a range of independent schools to discuss how to raise standards of teaching and learning, attainment and overall educational quality across the sector. Leading organisations such as the Independent Schools Inspectorate will survey the existing landscape and direction of travel for the independent education sector, providing guidance around inspections and regulatory compliance. In addition, award-winning best practice case studies will share how to raise standards through personalised achievement learning, robust educational structures, innovative whole-school strategies and exceptional extra-curricular opportunities.


This Forum is specifically designed for Independent Schools. Job titles will include:

  • Headteachers and Assistant Headteachers
  • Deputy Headteachers
  • Principals and Vice-Principals
  • Directors of Studies
  • Directors of Education
  • Compliance Officers
  • Academic Heads
  • Heads of Senior and Prep School
  • Heads of Teaching and Learning
  • School Governors
  • Trustees
  • Directors of Standards and School Improvement

This Forum is also open to the Wider Education and Private Sectors to encourage networking and debate.

Key Speakers Confirmed:
  • Richard Johnson, Deputy Chief Inspector, Independent Schools Inspectorate
  • Sir Anthony Seldon, Vice-Chancellor, University of Buckingham
View the agenda and additional speakers


There are around 2,600 independent schools in the UK, which educate an estimated 625,000 children, or 7% of all British children. The impact of private schools on the prosperity of the UK economy is significant, with a study by Oxford Economics in 2018 finding that the independent school sector contributed £13.7 billion to UK GDP in 2017, and supported over 300,000 jobs.

In January 2015, the Department for Education (DfE) introduced a new set of independent school standards grouped into 8 thematic categories, including quality of education, welfare, health and safety, premises and accommodation, handling complaints and quality of leadership and management. The Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) has a statutory responsibility to inspect all providers which are members of the Independent Schools Council, which as of January 2018 was 1,326 schools, or roughly half all independent providers, while Ofsted inspects all non-association independent schools.

Unfortunately, the most recent Ofsted inspections in February 2018 revealed 15% of non-association independent schools were rated “inadequate”, up from 13% in July 2017 and only 4% in 2014. This is a worrying trend that threatens the quality of education pupils are receiving, something even more disconcerting given average private school fees rose by 3.4% in 2018.

In September 2017, the DfE announced their new Systems Partnerships Unit with the aim of fostering mutually beneficial initiatives between independent and state schools. The scheme was designed to support the development of a network of good practice and case studies, evaluating ‘what works’ to deliver benefits to both the independent and state partners. Moreover, in March 2018 the DfE published The Independent School Standards: Advice for Independent Schools following a consultation with the independent school sector. The document seeks to help school proprietors, school staff and governing bodies of independent schools better understand their statutory obligations under the Government standards.

Independent schools must now make an urgent and concerted effort to ensure regulatory compliance, enhance standards and improve attainment rates if they are to maintain their status as elite educational institutions with a reputation for academic excellence.


Registration, Refreshments and Networking


Chair's Welcome Address

Simon Nathan, Head of Policy, Independent Schools Council (invited)


Morning Keynote: Raising Standards Across Independent Schools Through Inspections

  • Detailing how the ISI inspects and monitors the independent school sector against the 8 thematic standards set out by the Department for Education
  • Outlining the content of the ISI’s inspections framework, including the principles followed by inspectors to ensure a rigorous, fair and transparent inspections process
  • Sharing guidance on how independent association schools can best demonstrate to inspectors their commitment to educational quality and regulatory compliance
  • Providing best practice guidance for independent schools around delivering exceptional teaching and learning to raise pupil attainment

Richard Johnson, Deputy Chief Inspector, Independent Schools Inspectorate (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Developing Exceptional Leadership Teams to Raise Standards of Education

  • Emphasising the importance of leadership in raising educational standards, academic quality and student outcomes across independent schools
  • Providing guidance and advice on successful strategies and techniques for independent school leaders through the Leading Schools in the 21st Century book series
  • Sharing guidance on how senior leadership teams can develop holistic school strategies and action plans which place equal emphasis on academic and co-curricular activities
  • Examining the challenges and opportunities facing independent school leaders across the sector, such as running costs, estates management, evolving leadership structures and talent attraction

Shaun Fenton, Chair, Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC) (invited)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Providing an Outstanding and Holistic Educational Experience for Pupils

  • Exploring the school’s journey from “Good” to “Outstanding” in its most recent Ofsted inspection
  • Outlining how to arrange and organise a vast range of extra-curricular enrichment activities to promote rounded pupil development, such as taking part in The London Youth Games
  • Detailing how to deliver exceptional teaching by setting high standards for behaviour and learning, demonstrating strong subject knowledge, and providing effective learning plans and resources
  • Raising standards of students’ personal welfare and development through regular discussions with pupils about life in modern Britain, current affairs, staying safe, and preparing for the future
  • Providing excellent and impartial careers guidance and support to ensure students are fully aware of, and prepared for, their post-school options, including workshops that guide them in writing their curriculum vitae and application forms

Rated “Outstanding” in its 2018 Ofsted inspection across all inspection criteria 

Omar Salahuddin, Deputy Headteacher – Teaching and Learning, North London Grammar School (invited)


Case Study: Adopting a Bespoke Approach to Education to Maximise Individual Attainment and Learning

  • Presenting Arberdour’s unique and innovative Personalised Achievement Learning (PAL) system, an educational support plan guided by the mission of Finding the Brilliance in Every Child’
  • Actively managing each child’s individual goals and progress and delivering flexible, adaptive teaching and learning programmes
  • Providing each child with an individual plan from Year 2 to Year 6 monitored by non-teaching ‘Tracking Tutors’, ensuring all aspects of academic, pastoral and aspirational development are supported
  • Detailing how “Tracking Tutors” liaise with teachers to ensure a bespoke teaching and learning programme that reflects the individual child
  • Ensuring parents are fully engaged in their childrens’ learning by briefing them on the pedagogy and practicalities of the PAL system, as well as providing on-line tracking data

Shortlisted for Independent Schools Parent’s ‘PrePrep/Prep School of the Year’ in 2018

Simons Collins, Headteacher, Aberdour School (invited)


Questions and Answers


Lunch and Networking


Afternoon Keynote: Supporting Independent Schools to Raise Standards and Enhance Educational Quality

  • Supporting independent schools in delivering a holistic educational experience by providing enrichment opportunities for pupils in Area and National Competitions for Sport, Drama and the Arts
  • Sharing guidance around the process of forging independent-state school partnerships to facilitate the sharing of best practice, expertise and facilities to the benefit of children in all of the schools involved
  • Assisting independent schools to raise standards by providing expert information and advice on a range of topics, including HR, inspections, and curriculum development
  • Working in partnership with member schools through the topic-based committees to ensure ISA goals are aligned with the priorities of the sector

Matthew Adshead, Chair, Independent Schools Association (invited)


Interview: What Does the Future Hold for the Independent School Sector?

  • What are the most important trends within independent schools across the country, and what do they tell us about the sector’s direction of travel?
  • How can independent schools move beyond mere “grade preparation” and improve their ability to develop pupils’ soft skills and personal characteristics?
  • How are Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Virtual Reality (VR) technologies going to transform educational processes in the future, and how should independent schools capitalise on this?
  • What can independent schools do to better integrate existing technology into the teaching and learning process, and how will this enhance standards across the sector?
  • What measures can be taken by independent school leaders to enhance the mental and personal wellbeing of their pupils?

Delegates will be able to submit their own questions via in the run up the event 

Sir Anthony Seldon, Vice-Chancellor, University of Buckingham (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Improving Outcomes Through a Diamond Structure of Education

  • Emphasising the educational benefits of having co-educational junior and sixth-form schools, and single-sex education between the ages of 11 and 16
  • Understanding that girls and boys have different emotional needs in their teenage years and designing a school system that adequately supports and accommodates this
  • Having subject staff working across two or three of the school levels to maintain unity of purpose and outcomes with regards to curriculum development and learning progression
  • Holding cross-school initiatives such as the “Ideal Classroom” project which invigorates creativity, collaboration and complex problem solving through allowing students to imagine a classroom of the future
  • Ensuring that where specialist roles exist in each school, such as Heads of Departments or Designated Safeguarding Leads, these staff are networked to enable consistency and best practice across the schools
  • Allowing each school to provide bespoke educational opportunities at each distinct school stage, without compromising the overarching institutional vision, objectives, culture and strategy

Rated “Excellent” by the Independent Schools Inspectorate for both ‘Quality of Pupils’ Academic and Other Achievements’, and ‘Quality of Pupils’ Personal Development’ 

Will Phelan, Principal, Stamford Endowed Schools (invited)


Case Study: Establishing an Innovative School-Wide Programme to Enhance Educational Quality Beyond the Traditional Curriculum

  • Dedicating nearly 100 hours per academic year to “Strive”, an ambitious school-wide initiative designed to open pupils’ minds to new ways of thinking, and build their confidence in preparation for senior school
  • Detailing the strategic implementation of the project, involving embedding four 40 minute sessions in the school week delivered by subject specialists and staff
  • Sharing how “Strive” has supported pupils to develop their soft skills such as resilience, problem solving, independent learning, communication and creativity
  • Highlighting the importance of ending each session with a reflection, allowing students to link what they have learnt to everyday life
  • Exploring how the initiative encourages self-directed learning, independence and broader life skills beyond the core curriculum

Winner -“Strategic Education Initiative of the Year” at the 2019 TES Independent School Awards 

Alastair Speers, Headmaster, Sandroyd School (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Designing and Delivering a Comprehensive Careers Guidance Programme to Prepare Pupils for the Future

  • Presenting Abingdon School’s Career Guidance Programme, which runs from Year 8 through to Year 13 and provides pupils with a variety of careers lessons, events, activities, advice, information and workshops
  • Designing the programme to ensure coherence from year-to-year, and tailoring each year’s agenda to support pupils in making informed educational choices at the end of each key educational stage: GSCE, A-Level, and post-18 
  • Outlining the 6 dimensions of Abingdon’s “Framework for Exploring Careers” for Year 9 students, which provides a structured and analytical approach to help pupils make career-informed GCSE subject choices
  • Integrating skills workshops across the careers programme to combine active learning with careers guidance and information
  • Sharing guidance around how other schools can design and implement their own comprehensive careers programme to ensure students make confident, informed and inspired decisions about their future 

Michael Triff, Head of Career Guidance, Abingdon School (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Chair's Summary and Close

*Programme subject to change 

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