MTM Consulting

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by MTM Consulting's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from MTM Consulting is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Highlighting best practice
Highlighting best practice
Research Director JamesLeggett
Helping schools to realise
their vision for the future
MTM Consulting provides unique market insights to
help schools realise their vision for the future. Between
providing feasibility studies, supply and demand
analyses and stakeholder research, MTM and its team tell
schools where to find more learners, how to reach them and
what appeals to them. Research Director James Leggett explains
that for MTM, it is simple: they are research experts who seek to
ensure the best educational outcome for all.
At MTM, we specialise in helping schools recruit more children. Most of our work
is based around helping schools understand the types of families who use their
provision and understanding where we can find more families who match those
profiles and would therefore be expected to be in a position to use such an offering
for their children. We work primarily with independent schools, and during this
work we have noticed one key issue that seems to be holding parents back from
sending their children to such schools: the length of school holidays.
We are always told the customer is king and that the customer is always right, yet
in the education sector, many seem to forget this principle. A school’s focus is on
the education of children, and our clients do that exceptionally well. The element
they may not have considered is the effect of their provision on their parental
body. While Saturday school has largely disappeared, this is more closely related
to the contraction and, in many schools, the abolition of boarding rather than the
requirements of the modern family.
MTM Consulting
»Research Director:
»Established in 1984
»Based in Colchester
»Services: Education market
research agency
»No. of employees: 6
School holidays and the effect
on working parents
In my own family, we made the
decision to send our children to a
preparatory school at great sacrifice.
We do not have expensive holidays or
new cars; instead we invested in an
education for our children. A number
of my friends would love to do the
same but struggle to accommodate
the nine-week summer holidays and
two-week half-term in October.
A school day, which runs from 8.30 to
3.15 for 33 weeks of the year, simply
does not accommodate the needs and
schedules of two working parents. The
nursery sector realised this many years
ago and began to offer 7am to 7pm
childcare for 51 weeks of the year.
Despite this example, schools have
not followed suit. I appreciate children
cannot be in structured lessons for 51
weeks of the year, but there must be
other ways to approach this.
We regularly undertake focus groups
with families who would be expected
to use independent schools, and they
always produce similar outcomes: it is
not possible for both parents to work
and cover school holidays without
one parent sacrificing an income.
This sacrifice means they cannot use
independent schools if they were
Research of this nature is used in the
commercial world to understand the
nature of their market, their wants,
needs and price points, defining
elements such as the product,
promotion and the price point. In the
education sector, our experience is that
it is only those schools who are trying
to stay ahead, or who are struggling,
who truly realise the value in market
research. Understanding the wants
and needs of your parents will enable
you to better position your offering,
potentially widening participation.
I personally visit four to six schools in
any given week, and have discussed
these challenges and the concept of
a 51-week school with colleagues
and clients alike. During these
conversations there have been three
consistent objections:
1. Children will not have set holiday
periods, with children taken out of
school at random
2. Teachers choose teaching because
of the long holidays
3. There will be no downtime for
Enabling schools to
recruit more pupils
We specialise
in helping
schools recruit
more children
Highlighting best practice
Highlighting best practice
Personalised learning
I should highlight here that I am a data
analyst, not an educationalist. However,
with the rapid advancement of
educational technology, we are regularly
told that our children have “personalised
learning journeys”, monitoring their
growth and allowing them to develop
at their own rate. The advancement
of this could surely reduce the
requirement for a traditional “linear”
education and therefore highlight
topics that require additional support.
Furthermore, families already take their
children out of school during term time
to avoid more expensive holiday costs,
so this is unlikely to change under a
new system.
Staff management
A lot is expected of our teachers, and
many work long hours to cover the
demanding curriculum within term
time while supporting extra-curricular
activities. The long holidays are a just
recompense for such dedication.
Extending school sessions to 51 weeks
reduces the demand on staff as they will
have a longer time period in which to
cover the curriculum. Similarly, during
the summer, many more lessons can be
outside the classroom, with a greater
use of cost-effective teachingassistants.
The holiday periods are often a time
for painting and decorating within a
school, with everything being made
clean and fresh for September. In a
51-week school, there would be no
downtime for the facilities.
The industrial sector faces similar
challenges and thus offers an
interesting example. Businesses in
this sector undertake most of their
maintenance and updates overnight,
with enough capacity in the system
to allow for downtime. Most schools
are not at 100 per cent utilisation,
so a similar system could be adopted
that would ensure buildings could be
maintained with minimal disruption.
Through our work, we are often in
direct contact with the marketing staff
of schools, who are all expected to
work 52 weeks a year. As it is their role
to try and entice prospective students
to their school, discussions have
already begun about extending term
lengths and the supportive effect this
can have on working parents.
If this discussion was expanded, and
serious thought was given to the
reform of our education system,
parents, children and the wider
economy could benefit.
I personally
visit four to six
schools in any
given week
Department for
International Trade
meeting at the MTM
Consulting offices

This article was sponsored by MTM Consulting. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss

Even by the standards of the day –this has been one of the most exciting and unpredictable years in British politics.

The leadership election we’ve just seen marks a huge moment in our country’s history. This government is taking a decisive new direction, embracing the opportunities of Brexit and preparing our country to flourish outside the EU.

As international trade secretary, I’ll be driving forward work on the free trade agreements that are going to be a priority for the government. Free trade isn’t just an abstract concept bandied around by technocrats. It is crucial for a strong economy and for the ability of families to make ends meet. Free trade benefits people in every part of our country, as British firms export to new markets and people doing the weekly shop have access to a wider choice of goods at lower prices.

The essence of free trade is in the title: freedom. It’s about giving people the power to exchange their goods without heavy government taxation or interference. Commerce and free exchange are the engine room of prosperity and social mobility. I’m determined to tackle the forces who want to hold that back.

One of my priorities is agreeing an exciting new free trade deal with the US, building on the great relationship between our two countries and the Prime Minister and US President. But I’ll also be talking to other partners including New Zealand, Australia and fast-growing Asian markets.

And with the EU too, we want a friendly and constructive relationship, as constitutional equals, and as friends and partners in facing the challenges that lie ahead – a relationship based on a deep free trade agreement. Our country produces some of the world’s most successful exports, and the opportunity to bring these to the rest of the world should make us all excited about the future. It is this excitement, optimism and ambition which I believe will come to define this government.

For too long now, we have been told Britain isn’t big or important enough to survive outside the EU – that we have to accept a deal that reflects our reduced circumstances. I say that’s rubbish. With the right policies in place, we can be the most competitive, free-thinking, prosperous nation on Earth exporting to the world and leading in new developments like AI. To do that, we’ll give the brilliant next generation of entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed. Since 2015, there has been a staggering 85 per cent rise in the number of businesses set up by 18 to 24 year olds – twice the level set up by the same age group in France and Germany. We’ll help them flourish by championing enterprise, cutting taxes and making regulation flexible and responsive to their needs.

As we do that, we’ll level up and unite all parts of the UK with great transport links, fibre broadband in every home and proper school funding, so everyone shares in our country’s success.

2019 has been the year of brewing economic and political revolution. 2020 will be the year when a revitalised Conservative government turbo charges the economy, boosts prospects for people across the country, and catapults Britain back to the forefront of the world stage.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss
Secretary of State for International Development