So... the least surprising political result of the last decade is now official and Liz Truss is Prime Minister.
As a fellow graduate of Merton College, Oxford from the mid-1990s I'd like to think that I could offer some great personal insight into her character, but I only remember talking to her once, and that was to solve a temperamental printer in our college IT room.
However, our new leader has been in politics for a long time, was a junior minister in the Department of Education from 2012-14, and has spoken about education in other roles from time to time. So, what might we expect in the next 2+ years that might affect us as school marketers?
Firstly, here's a quick summary of the policies she's announced as part of her leadership campaign from TLDR News...
Let's look at these in turn as they apply to schools...
1. 'Expanding high performing schools and replacing failing ones'
This seems certain to involve more grammar schools. At the moment the law allows existing ones to expand but no new ones to be opened. However, Liz Truss has said...
"I went to a comprehensive school but I send my daughters to a grammar. We only have that choice because we live in a certain part of London."I want to give people that choice across the country."
New grammar schools will change admissions significantly as students may be tempted to travel greater distances to attend them - independent schools may also have fewer applicants.
2. A 'laser' focus on literacy and numeracy
Truss has spoken of a target for '90% of primary children to reach the expected standard in literacy and numeracy'. Given that the Government has been working on these areas for a number of years it will be interesting to see how extra work can be done here, especially given the funding constraints on schools. Perhaps there will be more support for tutoring and intervention - or borrowing from her rival Rishi Sunak - more use of artificial intelligence from the likes of CENTURY Tech?
3. Childcare changes
There is no doubt that childcare costs are a huge issue for families, and a lot of new ideas to help in this area were announced in July, when Nadhim Zadhawi was Education Secretary. These included changing staff-to-child rations and supporting the growth of so-called Childminder Agencies (CMAs) - of which the best known is probably Tiney, founded by Brett Wigdortz OBE - who also started Teach First!
These changes may impact on schools that offer nursery provision - although with demand far outstripping supply there is likely to remain a lot of room in the market for new provision.
4. Wider changes to university admissions
One of the widest reported ideas from the Truss team was that all those who achieve 3A* grades at A-level would be automatically granted an interview at Oxford or Cambridge University - although there are arguments that this should be extended to other top universities rather than reinforce the sense that 'Oxbridge' is better than any other choice!
This change would also mean that university applications would have to take place after A-level results were announced, which would cause major changes to the current process. For schools this could mean more work with students post-results days - and perhaps even earlier A-levels!
Secondly, here are some other of Liz Truss's speeches and thoughts on education from her time at the Department of Education...
Of course, things never really happen as expected in politics - but to keep up to date you can read more in publications such as Schools Week or The Guardian. For a greater ongoing insight into this area I'd also suggest following Sam Freedman on LinkedIn, Twitter or Substack.
Being aware of political changes that affect you is a key part of school marketing - if you'd like help with this, why not book a place on one of our School Marketing Workshops?