Future for the Education Sector

In March 2020, Trajectory Partnership published a quick peek into the future titled “The Post Pandemic Consumer.”  With a longstanding interest in future trends and scenario building, I read with interest the trends identified in the paper under 4 “Trend” headings: Arrested, Slow, Dominant and Advancing, referring to the likely pace of the trends they identified.  Able to spot trends and outliers quite naturally, one must remain aware that the trends are projections of observations made of data and set the scene for anyone interested in the future to play with. Peter Schwarz, my top Futures guru because of his deep understanding of Futures thinking, says simply in his book, “The Art of the Long View”

The test of a good scenario is not getting the future right… The real test of a good scenario is:  Did I make better choices as a result of having looked at and understood both my own environment better and the consequences of my actions

What scenarios of the future for the education sector could be gleaned from Trajectory’s trends?  As I was reminded in a conversation with colleagues at TCD, whilst life has slowed for the majority during this Pandemic, it has sped up for many in the NHS, Care sector, specialist manufacturers and supermarkets.

I hope you enjoy my toying with these trends on how leaders in the education sector could utilise the thinking to identify opportunities and threats for sustained success in a Post-COVID-19 world. This article may speak differently to you, depending on where you lead – in primary, secondary or tertiary education – so please take what applies and leave the rest on the table for someone else.

Arrested trends include growth in office and shop-based face-to face services, which until recently had gradual growth alongside online services. Demand for office property will reduce in both expensive urban locations but elsewhere, not based on cost but on choice.  The current successful experience of mostly telephone consultations before face-to-face attendance, will for the education sector, present opportunities to stretch resources to provide facilities in school where a child and parent could have a telephone medical consultation, so reducing children missing lessons in school.  Some INSET training could be delivered remotely with more individualised interactive training bringing together video and written media. Routine face-to-face Parent-Teacher meetings is likely to stop and be offered on demand or based on circumstance, with considerable time savings for parents. Where they take place, most stages of school admission assessments would be virtual, with much reduction in costs to schools. These demands will put pressure on government to speed up delivery of its digital strategy in the community, by providing wider private access to computers.  Schools on leased accommodation may be well placed in this climate to renegotiate lease terms and reduce costs or get better value.

Consumer confidence has stalled with the uncertainty in the current crisis – employment, housing market, retail excluding supermarkets and online businesses that sell essentials. Lower interest rates (0.1%) have arrested savings that were already low.  School supply businesses are likely to be keen to sell and so present opportunities for schools to negotiate good deals and strengthen supplier relationships, notably in the area of school meals and supplies for example, where supermarkets have acted more like social businesses, demonstrating such willingness to support their local communities.

Read more about Slowed, Dominant and Advancing trends in the full article here: Joseph Ogbonna Post-COVID-19 futures v2

Joseph Ogbonna is a London-based versatile, experienced coach, with excellent supporting skills in strategic thinking, relationship building, mindfulness, organisational development, project and programme management skills, serving a range of public and private sector clients.

Read more blogs from Joseph – Lessons for a generation, “Keep Calm and Wash your hands”