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Top Trends in Independent Education

Tuesday, October 6, 2015  
Posted by: Christina Mimms
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By Christina Mimms, SAIS

Laptops for every student. Google classrooms. Student ambassadors. Teacher Twitter accounts. These are just a few of the recent trends that schools have examined and sometimes incorporated into their curriculums or programs. Are they destined to be permanent fixtures on campuses or are they merely flash-in-the-pan moments?

As school leaders determine where to put their energy, time, and resources, they also must focus on staying true to their traditions and their missions. It is a balancing act to fulfill the expectations that parents hold for a top-quality, and even cutting-edge, education for their children but not chase after every so-called latest, hottest trend that may soon fizzle out.

“I think the number one most important thing is to constantly and consistently do environmental scanning,” says Ian Symmonds, president and director of strategic services for Ian Symmonds & Associates, consultants to independent schools and universities. “Independent schools are very good at looking internally, but are less adept at looking externally at the trends and forces shaping their world. A commitment and discipline to constant environmental scanning is really what helps schools navigate challenging times.”

In addition to looking at the latest trends in education, schools also must maintain awareness of cultural trends and societal shifts. A global view is critical to an independent school that is working to graduate global citizens who will be leaders in the 21st Century.

In order to encapsulate the latest trends in independent education, in the past several months Symmonds launched the #EduTrendingNow campaign to gather information directly from school leaders. Shifts in curriculum planning, uses of technology, changes in student recruitment and retention, new marketing techniques and more are among the information that Symmonds and his team are reviewing to present a keynote address at the upcoming SAIS Annual Conference.

“Initially, the response to the campaign was low as I believe people were somewhat unwilling and shy to divulge what might be happening in their market,” Symmonds says. “However, now we are finding greater interest in the campaign and strong feedback. We intend to incorporate big picture themes, not verbatim comments, into our presentation based upon the threads of research and feedback that were given to us by our participants.”

Using crowd-sourced content will provide an eye-opening discussion for attendees and help them in future planning of school programs. The keynote address will occur at 4:00-5:30 PM on Sunday, October 18.


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