Missing a Trick? Here’s how you can Showcase your Difference


Independent schools have a very strong sense of their own uniqueness. Perhaps it is the strong traditions; the long history; the uniforms, the customs, the family loyalties all of which go back generations. Visit any independent school in the country and their teachers will tell you of its distinctive characteristics, particular flavour and special quality.

To an outsider, however, these differences can seem slightly less distinct.

A typical parent, perhaps not educated privately themselves, considering five different independent schools for their child, will tend to see more similarities than differences:

Well dressed, polite pupils; eager, well mannered and committed teachers; polished and authoritative Heads; impressive facilities; attractive curricula; abundant resources; unquestionable results. A great overall package. But one which, for the main, is also available down the road at the other four schools.

Of course, it’s true that the real qualities of your school will only be tasted rather than observed. But, the challenge for the Head of course, is that you have to attract the family to the dining table first before they will actually taste how delicious and nutritious your fare is.

What more, then, can you put on the packaging to help your prospective parents get a true sense of what makes you YOU? What makes St Crispin’s stand out from St Cuthbert’s or St Columba’s?

The truth.

I’m not being facetious here. Let me explain.

What I mean by ‘truth’ is telling your parents what exactly, in measurable terms, defines and constitutes the intangible character of your establishment.

At STEER, we are in the interesting position is being able to provide Heads with just such intangible data. Now that we have five years of data across day and boarding schools, boys and girls schools, prep and secondary, we can compare your school to the sector norm for a range of social & emotional characteristics:

We can show you if your school breeds more confident pupils than the sector mean; or more risk-taking boys; or more cautious girls; or whether your school is more communitarian and inclusive than the average. Or whether it is particularly supportive in the exam years, or excels when pupils transition and arrive….

Of course, we will never, EVER show a school how they compare to any school who might be identifiable- we provide sector comparisons, national benchmarks, not competitive social-emotional ranking.

But our data does, we believe for the first time in UK schooling, objectify those subtle, intangible social-emotional elements that truly ‘make your school unique’‘St Crispin’s really is distinctive because…’ ‘A St Cuthbert’s child really does exhibit the following qualities…’


Data collected by interviews, surveys and observations and then painstakingly analysed and reported. An expensive report which missed the most crucial datahow children’s actual minds- the inner emotional & cognitive journey of your children- was shaped through your education.

On the other hand, STEER’s data analytics benchmarks every school’s social-emotional & wellbeing characteristics as part of the twice-yearly AS Tracking programme.

Extraordinarily powerful data at your fingertips to evidence to governors, or parents, precisely what makes your school unique.

There are some intangibles that a family will only understand when their child starts at your school. But you might just be missing a trick in not being able to show them in black and white why [your school name] truly is different and distinctive from the other kinds of school they may be looking at. And you don’t need to go to an expensive consultancy to get it….

We invite all Heads reading these Thought Pieces to our first ever Head’s Conference:

Places are limited to 30.

For more information and to book a place please contact fiona@steer.global