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Every little helps, boarding heads told

The second-in-command at Britain's largest supermarket chain has told boarding school headteachers they could learn from its successful business techniques.

Andrew Higginson, chief executive of Tesco Retailing Services, told heads of the country's 35 state boarding schools that they must not become complacent during the good times, and always prepare for an uncertain future.

Listening to customers and meeting their changing needs would help boarding schools change with the times, as Tesco has done, he said.

Mr Higginson, who is also chair of governors at the Royal Grammar School in High Wycombe, told the State Boarding Schools' Association conference on Monday: "It's quite a successful period for boarding schools. They are pretty much full, and it is always tempting to believe that will always be the case.

But he said parents and pupils would have rising expectations of boarding, from internet connections to en suite bathrooms.

He said Tesco had been quick to adapt: "Just a few years ago we opened until 8pm, then we realised people wanted 24-hour opening, and then convenience stores."

He also warned boarding schools not to be afraid of regulators. Tesco, he said, was accountable to 31 different authorities.

"When new diktats arrive, pause for breath," he said.

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