2017 Independent Schools' Risk Report

2017 Independent Schools' Risk Report


The 2017 Independent Schools’ Risk Report presents summarised findings of the 2017 risk survey, along with thought provoking commentary around the top risks identified, and the impact these pertinent issues could be having on schools.

In our 2017 Independent Schools’ Risk Report, respondents highlighted the following top 5 risk concerns affecting their schools.

Brand and Reputation

This year’s second most pressing risk concern, threatened by fresh issues each year such as terror attacks, allegations of child abuse, allergic reactions. The instantaneous nature of communication heightens the potential impact of an event. It is important to acknowledge the difference between having a plan in place, and being able to execute it.

Cyber Risk

Cyber risk concerns specific to schools include fluidity of school IT networks due to remote access, the rise of ransomware attacks, social media policies and cyber bulling.

School Governance

We take a look at best practice in how a board operates, strategy and popular techniques for board governance effectiveness, and formal assessment tools.

Business Continuity

It’s about building a resilient school. A majority of schools have a critical incident plan in place to help deal with the immediate impacts of an event.

The business continuity plan (BCP) picks up where the critical incident plan ends. For example, the BCP gets students back in front of a teacher, as soon as possible, after a natural disaster damages school buildings. Roughly half of schools surveyed have no BCP in place

Student Travel

Schools are showing no signs of limiting their overseas excursions and student travel, however a more holistic approach to risk is being taken, including:

  • Comprehensive risk assessments
  • Local knowledge of destination
  • Purchasing group travel insurance for any overseas school excursion

Student and Staff Wellbeing

A correlation exists between student safety and wellbeing, and a school’s sustainability. Focus should be on creating a safe working environment extends beyond school walls into the online social realm. Safety or wellbeing incidents can easily turn into media hype, due to the acceleration of the spread of information or misinformation in the digital age. 

Mental health programmes can help mitigate risks of mental health illness such as a decline in productivity, increase in absences, and greater incidence of employee claims.

Talent and Engagement

Access to skills and experience can impact on a school’s performance and reputation and could threaten long term viability. Effective management of talent results from a well thought out and executed strategy, requiring executive leadership, ownership and drive. Succession planning should be included in any robust strategy.

Reward is not just about the quantum of salary, but perceived fairness by staff. Schools are slightly behind the curve in their measurement of staff engagement, compared to industry in general.


It is imperative for all staff to have valid and current skills for a school to deliver quality education and a safe environment, including appropriate and current qualifications and registrations. Most schools surveyed keep manual records, managed by an administrator. Reliance on manual processes exposes schools to risks.

There is a trend emerging toward increased usage of central system to store qualifications, and send automatic renewal reminders and rebook courses, in order to improve efficiency and reduce risk.

If you elect to comment or engage with our content via third-party social media websites, you authorise Aon to have access to certain social media profile information. Please click here to learn more about information that may be collected when using these tools on

For further information contact: