Independent school mergers: winning hearts and minds

Mark Steed

Mark is the Principal of the Berkhamsted Schools Group, Herts, UK. He is a member of both the GSA and HMC and is a Governor of the Wren Academy in Barnet.

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When a small, free-standing prep school merges with a much larger school or group, the greatest challenge is winning over the “hearts and minds” of the key interest groups.


The Governors of a small, free-standing prep school (or the owners in the case of a proprietorial school) are in all likelihood all too aware of their predicament. Governors often feel the weight of history. They are bound by the tradition that they received, and have a duty, within what is possible, to ensure that the school is passed on to their successors in good shape. Inevitably some will see merger as a failure on their part; others will take the pragmatic view that it is the only way to see the school move forward. The danger here is that they can all too often hesitate and not seize the moment before them.

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