LBMW Schools Conference Report
Partner and education specialist Alyson Howard recently attend the LBMW Schools Conference - Charities Leading Change sponsored by MHA MacIntyre Hudson and summarises the key points from the day.
Increased spending on education is the root of economic growth, according to Professor Joe Nellis from Cranfield School of Management, and is a key driver in the continuation of the cautious optimism that he and fellow economists hold for the future of the UK economy. That was the core message of a speech given at Charities Leading Change, the LBMW Annual Schools Conference at which MHA MacIntyre Hudson was proud to be a sponsor.
Whilst the impact of Brexit cannot yet be fully known or understood, the UK economy has been achieving modest but steady growth. It should be better, and it feels as though some sort of step change is due in how our economy functions. Prof. Nellis can see that happening in the near future, with more likelihood of a positive correction rather than the negative one we experienced in 2008/9.
What is needed to achieve that step change is greater spending on education so that everyone can better adapt to progressively faster developments in technology. Those born since 2010 (the year the iPad came out) are known as Generation Alpha, and they have been born without fear of, and with an innate comprehension and intuitive capacity for technology and its continuous development. It is an increasing challenge for the rest of us to keep pace sufficiently to be able to direct and develop traditional management techniques and establish core business KPIs, whilst being flexible enough to recognise and encourage new talents and new methodologies as careers become more project based and less linear.
The Community of St Mary the Virgin is an Anglican religious order founded in the mid-19th century to work within education. It is now very different to what it once looked like and its presentation underlined just how important it is for charities to keep their objectives under review and ensure they are moving with the times. The order recognised that change in isolation leads to ever decreasing circles and has effected its development programme through working in partnership with other organisations to achieve modern, realistic and relevant goals. The clear message to charities is reach out, be brave and share. There is strength and opportunity in community.
Safeguarding was a topic raised by Jane Grenfall, who has recently joined LBMW from the Charity Commission following the recent significant press coverage of failings at some major charities undertaking relief work. It is a prime example of how something can emerge completely from left-field and leave an unprepared Charity struggling to cope. Whilst Business Continuity, Risk Registration and Disaster Planning can appear an overhead to everyday business, they all help to focus on key areas and what could happen if something went wrong. The admin is worth it to mitigate an unlikely event.
Jane also struck a note of caution for the Conference by raising the spectre of the first charity pushed into insolvency by a pension fund deficit, potentially opening the flood-gates to many similar cases. Understanding the structure and legal position of a Charity and taking some potentially strong lines on the more corporate issues in order to safeguard the future are all important issues upon which Jane would focus attention.
Clifford Woodruffe of LBMW then reported on the recent Durand Academy case in the High Court where the Academy managed to overturn an adverse Ofsted inspection report. The Court found that the complaint procedures inherent in the Ofsted practice were so unfair as to invalidate the entire process. Whilst the Department for Education may yet appeal, the entire affair has drawn attention to the fact that whilst you don’t have to have a complaints procedure, if you do have one it must be fair. It will be interesting to see how that situation develops.
Subsequent presentations drew the conference’s attention to the importance of being bold in taking our educational and charitable businesses forward particularly in an ever-regulated environment that is soon imposing GDPR. In an economy that needs education to drive it to increased productivity, something that has slowed over the last ten years, we are not perhaps spending as much as we should be and it is the third sector that is taking on the challenge to filling those gaps.
Clearly there are a lot of issues upon which we need to focus. Most of the advice at the conference had at least one element of reaching out to different organisations, both those experiencing similar situations, perhaps to benchmark, maybe to effect collaborative solutions, and also to professionals like ourselves who can play an important part in helping solve short term issues and guard against the development of long-term or structural difficulties.