“David, what do you see as the future of independent boarding schools?”
“Clearly they have an important role to play and I think a lot depends on the government as to whether they see a role for independent boarding schools in terms of dealing with children with particular issues and problems and putting financial support into that and using the independent boarding schools as a way of dealing with these sorts of children’s problems.
“There was a start of that under the last government with Lord Adonis who introduced a limited scheme for placing difficult children in boarding schools as the right solution. And it strikes me that that scheme could be extended quite considerably which means that there would be a very different future for boarding schools.
“Obviously the other key area is the overseas student aspect. One saw huge growth over the last year in the numbers of overseas students. That is something that has grown considerably over the last few years.
“The UK brand of education is a huge money earner but also it’s intellectual property that the UK does very well and that is the area of our economy we will need to develop. It’s not just about going back to manufacturing. It’s also using education and other IP. The fact that we develop software and games, that is a huge industry for the UK. Education is also very important.
“Our schools bring in £350m at the moment into the economy from overseas students who then go on to university and generate more income for the economy. This is an area that is going to be very important and something the government ought to be promoting overseas rather than being embarrassed about it.”
“How important do you feel it is for parents to keep in touch with their children when they could be hundreds of miles apart, or even in different countries?”
“It’s got to be a balance. Children need to know there is a safety net in the background so mobile phones are very useful but you don’t want the child to be phoning up the whole time.
“As a parent myself who had three children at boarding school when I was living abroad the twice weekly phone call was fine. Really, it helps the children to develop their independence and I’ve got three self-contained, independent very tough kids who are adults now.”
“So is it important to keep the right level then so the parents are informed enough to keep in touch closely but not too close?”
“That’s right. The key thing to me as a parent was to know whether there were long term issues that needed to be addressed and hearing from them every few days they can deal with individual problems as they arrive but if there are long term issues then they will ask for help and that seems to me to be the way that it should be.
“I think too much contact is dangerous but a certain amount of contact is absolutely vital.”
David Lyscom joined the Independent Schools Council (ISC) as Chief Executive in 2008. Prior to this David was UK Ambassador to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and HM Ambassador to the Slovak Republic in Bratislava.
David was interviewed by Double First’s Simon Jones, Marketing Manager.