Think of the Four As as well as the Three Rs
10th June 2015

Think of the Four As as well as the Three Rs

On Tuesday 9 June Robin Fletcher, BSA National Director, was invited to deliver the keynote speech at a boarding conference at West Buckland School in Devon.  In the speech titled 'Future of boarding', Robin examined how business strategies used by leading organisations such as Apple, Amazon, Audi and Aldi have helped to make them market leaders and what lessons boarding schools can take from their success. 

See coverage of this speech in the Daily Telegraph 

He noted that ‘service and customer care coupled with strong and enduring brand values’ are key for boarding schools today.  As part of his speech titled ‘Future of boarding’ Robin Fletcher, BSA National Director said:

“When it comes to looking at the future, I believe UK boarding schools need to think of the Four As of 'Apple, Amazon, Audi and Aldi' as well as Three Rs.  In the 21st Century, UK boarding schools are premium providers that rightly sell themselves on service and customer care coupled with strong and enduring brand values.”

Robin considered boarding numbers and trends of recent years saying:

"They have also been broadly stable over the past five years, and they have risen for the past two years in succession, with the number of private school boarders topping 70,000 for the first time in a decade.

“Add to this the 5,000 students at state boarding schools and there are 75,000 in UK boarding schools, a total roughly equal to the combined population of Axminster, Barnstable, Bideford, Dartmouth and West Buckland.  But survival in the future will be about innovation and amazing service at a great price and the winners will be those who balance these three things best.

“So as well as thinking about great exam results, offering an all-round education or even what a competitor school down the road is up to, boarding schools might consider asking one key business question  – ‘what would Apple, Amazon, Audi and Aldi do now?’

“What then, if anything, do the lessons from established brands like Audi and Aldi, and newer organisations like Apple and Amazon, teach those of us in the boarding school sector?

“Perhaps chiefly and most importantly, they teach us that the future for UK boarding schools is not just about excellent results, a brilliant all-round education for young people, fantastic facilities and high-quality pastoral care.

“These things are of course incredibly important but they may not be enough on their own.  Parents surrounded by innovation at home and work will expect to see it to too when they invest in education for their children.  So that is the challenge then for boarding schools and that is the key to a great future.

“Individual boarding schools, and the sector as a whole, could argue that they do not need to heed lessons from organisations from Apple, Audi, Amazon and Aldi.  For a start, boarding schools are in the business of education, not consumer electronics, cars, internet shopping or groceries.  But a common feature of each of these organisations is their ability to adapt, to change, to lead and to focus. And those are some of the hallmarks of all good, strong, organisations.”

Robin also announced a new ‘Future of Boarding’ seminar which will be led by the BSA and open to member schools in order to highlight ‘the value of learning from those outside the boarding school world’.

“The BSA, which represents around 500 independent independent and state boarding schools in the UK and overseas, is launching an annual ‘Future of Boarding’ day seminar in 2016.

“The seminar will look a wide range of topics include worldwide trends in boarding, strategic thinking, innovation, service and value.

“And it will bring in speakers from outside our world, as well as within, so we can all start to learn lessons from the beyond the boundary ropes of our excellent cricket grounds.”

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