Aon’s Independent Schools Risk Report is an biannual publication, produced in consultation with schools’ industry specialists and risk analysts.

The report provides a snapshot of the complex, dynamic and unique risk environment that independent schools operate in, along with expert commentary, trends, and insights.

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2020 – Building Resilience

The resilience of communities and organisations across the world has been severely tested by a series of disruptive events. In Australia, these included bushfires and floods that threatened lives and livelihoods. This was followed by the coronavirus pandemic, which forced people to recalibrate how we work, live, and interact. Across every aspect of the business community, this triumvirate of emergencies has revealed vulnerabilities in the preparedness of many organisations to protect their people and operations during a crisis.

School boards have been rattled by these unprecedented events, impacting the top risks found within the industry during our 2020 Risk survey – Brand Reputation, Student Safety, Competition, Cyber Threats, Acquiring Talent, and Government Legislations.

Brand and Reputation

Now jumped to the top concern among independent schools, building and maintaining a good reputation is front and centre for boards and school business administrators. A result of various underlying factors, and top of mind in turbulent risk environments, school leaders must work to provide safe, and healthy environments for not just their students but also their staff to ultimately build a successful brand.

Student Safety

Some of the risks here include physical exposures to COVID-19; mental health issues arising from changes in learning routines (especially for Year 12 students); and increased exposure to cyberbullying or adult cyber abuse, while learning from home.

Increasing competition

In an economic downturn, the government sector may pose a greater competitive threat to independent schools, while financial constraints could lead some parents to withdraw their child from a school or cancel a pending enrolment.

Cyber Security

Boards, business administrators and teachers are increasingly concerned about being able to accurately understand their legal requirements, and stay protected from ever-changing technology-related risks.


Finding, hiring, and retaining the right talent remains a challenge for most independent schools, with only 46% expressing great confidence in their recruitment procedures.


The increasingly complex nature of school management, coupled with a tighter regulatory environment, has led to heightened expectations from the stakeholder community.


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