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We help clients...

Meet stakeholder needs

The Learning & Work Institute commissioned Chalkstream to undertake a senior stakeholder survey to better understand how customers, potential customers, partners, sponsors and others see the organisation and what they would like from it.

"Chalkstream performed very well – the team was very responsive and delivered outputs before the agreed deadline. The survey findings have been reviewed by senior leaders and shared with the board, and they will be used to inform our three-year organisational plan."

Emily Jones, Deputy Director, Learning & Work Institute

Develop curricula

Inspire Education Group commissioned Chalkstream to help it develop a Level 3 curricula for its catchment. The Group wanted to gather insight about the nature of demand in Peterborough and Cambridgeshire for Level 3 qualifications.  The project included in-depth secondary research as well as primary research with individuals and employers in order to understand more about skills levels, gaps and demand as well as the preferred mode of delivery. 

"Chalkstream were responsive in terms of initial engagement and proposal for the project.  This was a very short term time limited project which required a high level of flexibility.  As the project was grant funded, there was no room for delay and Chalkstream met all the required outcomes within the project timescale.

"The final report delivered by Chalkstream to senior staff in the organisation has given the team the required level of detailed analysis to enable them to plan a focused curriculum to meet the skills needs of both individuals and employers in the local area."

Alison Fox, Executive Director Business Development, Peterborough College & Stamford College

Develop a campus

Bedford College Group's estate included a campus which was not fully occupied and to which it had been difficult to recruit students and apprentices.  The Group commissioned Chalkstream to help it identify:

1. whether there was demand for provision at this campus
2. the nature of the market
3. what curriculum it should offer to meet local skills needs.

"Right from the start, Chalkstream set out clear expectations in term of their proposed methodology, timeframes and costs so that we could closely track the project. Their approach was very professional and thorough, engaging with many key stakeholders in the area to gain valuable feedback, along with using secondary data to forecast demand and identify trends. They went over and above to ensure the recommendations they made were robust and could be relied upon so that we could make key decisions.

"Based on Chalkstream’s presentation of the findings, we have a clear understanding of our market and the curriculum we should offer. We have already presented our proposed plans to the community and had nearly 10 offers to help develop the centre from key employers, employer bodies, community groups and schools in the area. We plan to deliver provision out the centre from September."

Sarah Baxter, Executive Director of Marketing & Communications, The Bedford College Group

Support equality, inclusivity and diversity 

Leeds College of Building commissioned Chalkstream to undertake in-depth primary and secondary research so that the college could understand the perception of the institution and the construction sector more widely among key stakeholders, and in doing so improve the diversity of its student body. The project has led to a significant change programme at the college that is driving increased diversity in target areas. 

"Chalkstream were fantastic - clear communication throughout and very professionally conducted. The project has provided a much wider breadth of information than was anticipated and is now a valuable part of our overall strategy.

"Leeds College of Building is now developing three strands of work. School liaison, belonging and employer support. This project is far reaching and will have significant benefits for the College over a number of years."

Nikki Davies, Vice Principal, Leeds College of Building 

Prosper through improved relationships with key stakeholders


East Sussex College Group educates around 15,000 students across four campuses in the county. The Group commissioned Chalkstream to undertaken research with school heads and careers leads to help it develop its approach to working with schools and their stakeholders. The research has led to improved relationships and increased enrolment from those target feeder schools.

“Chalkstream were incredible. They worked quickly, intelligently and completed the insight interviews in short order and provided a report outlining our standing with our key stakeholder schools and provided a wide range of helpful suggestions to improve our reputation and work with our feeder schools.

“We are sure that having an external project enabled participants to open up more and as a result we have fed in these insights into our new Strategic Plan and accompanying school liaison and engagement strategy. This includes some short term changes to our approach, including a change in the way we present to Year 11s and more focus on parental engagement, alongside some longer term areas including curriculum reform and key engagement work with Headteachers.”

Dan Shelley, Executive Director, Strategic Partnerships & Engagement, ESCG

Effectively manage risk

Barnsley College commissioned Chalkstream to support it in stakeholder analysis and planning and in developing its capacity to respond effectively to critical incidents. This support led to a review of stakeholder management processes, priorities, and enhanced stakeholder engagement, as well as improved preparedness for dealing with critical incidents, alongside stress-testing of current protocols. 


"We found Chalkstream to be very professional, very well prepared for the task and very knowledgeable of our organisation’s needs. The activities were carried out with the utmost professionalism, sensitivity and in strict confidence."


Yiannis Koursis, Principal and Chief Executive, Barnsley College

Improve leadership capacity

Shrewsbury College Group commissioned Chalkstream to deliver strategic public relations support to the senior team. This has included planning and supporting the implementation of crisis management communications and the development of a whole college strategy for staff communications and engagement.  


"Ben’s advice is always appropriate to our context and demonstrates his formidable knowledge and his wide experience.  Ben’s support has enabled the college to build its own capacity, so whilst he has taken the lead in planning and providing materials where necessary, he has also enabled our leadership team to grow our understanding, knowledge and skill.  Part of the value of Ben’s advice has been guiding us on what not to do and giving us the confidence to know what requires action and what does not. 


Ben has the highest ethical standards and his open and transparent approach builds effective, trusting relationships – we know he is acting in our best interests."

James Staniforth, Principal and CEO, Shrewsbury College Group

Plan for the future


New City College (NCC), serving over 20,000 students, commissioned Chalkstream to undertake reputation research in 2017 and 2019 to inform the development of its strategic plan and its marketing and communication strategies following a series of mergers.

“From the initial contact, Chalkstream understood our needs and worked with us to develop and enhance the brief and scope of the project. Our timescale was tight...We worked well together, taking comment and suggestions from both side as the project progressed to make sure of the most valuable outcome possible...Chalkstream gave us rich and powerful insight that has been used directly to shape our strategic priorities, vision and values.”

Ruth Lomax, Group Director, Communications and Marketing, NCC

Create and grow a new brand


In 2014 OCNER commissioned Chalkstream to undertake market, reputation and brand research to inform the successful design and launch of its new identity - Gateway Qualifications. From 2015 to 2020, Chalkstream has supported Gateway with market research in order to grow the business and drive continuous improvements in customer service. 

"Chalkstream interpreted our brief exceptionally well and delivered a series of comprehensive reports under challenging conditions. They demonstrated an understanding of our market that far exceeds any other research organisation we have commissioned."


Carol Snape, CEO, Gateway Qualifications

Launch a new product or service


Connell Guides commissioned Chalkstream to undertake specialist market research to help model the launch of a new subscription model for these exciting, illustrated guides to famous works of literature. 

"Chalkstream gave me invaluable help in shaping my business. You’re organised, imaginative and easy to deal with. I couldn’t have asked for more." 

Jon Connell, publisher, Connell Guides

Communicate more effectively


The Institution of Civil Engineers is among a wide range of clients of Chalkstream's presentation, public speaking and pitching training. Attendees said:

“I thought the training was excellent and of all the courses I’ve had over the years this was probably by far the best.”


“I thought the workshop was excellent. Very well presented (unsurprisingly!), but really engaging, interactive and stimulating. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I was really impressed. Having done a lot of these kind of training courses before, and having a lot of presenting experience, I was a bit concerned I didn’t have much to learn - but he did a great job of taking on board our prior experiences and moulding the workshop around us.”


“I came into the course with a lot of presenting experience but was surprised when I left with a lot more knowledge on scriptwriting and creative thinking. It will definitely be of benefit at work and outside.”

Redesign business structures


In 2019 Chalkstream undertook reputation and brand research on behalf of the Skills and Education Group of awarding bodies in order to inform the organisation’s brand strategies and structural planning.


“Chalkstream performed exceptionally well, the research was thorough and presented in such a way that was useful to both the executive and trustees in making strategic decisions.”

Paul Eeles​, Chief Executive, Skills and Education Group

Adapt brands

In 2016 and in 2018, City & Guilds Group commissioned Chalkstream to deliver research support to generate insight into awareness of, and attitudes to, the Group and its constituent businesses in order to inform brand and strategic planning across the Group.

“The process Chalkstream followed was very thorough, from their initial proposal and in meeting to the questionnaire development and fieldwork and of course the analysis and reporting on the data...The outcomes of the research were very useful and informative…The research highlighted some key challenges and opportunities for us to explore as part of our future planning process. And, it has provided clear benchmark values for us to measure future waves of research against.”

Nicola Palin, Head of Group Brand, City & Guilds Group

Improve relationships with those most important to the organisation

Milton Keynes College engaged Chalkstream to support the organisation with a number of research projects related to student recruitment, transport and broader community engagement.

“Right from the start of the project, Chalkstream were an active part of forming the brief, working with us to understand what insight was required before suggestion the research methodology to deliver it.

“We've used the data collected to inform our community and schools engagement strategies. We have a clear direction and priority list of stakeholders to engage.

“We now have the ability to develop strategic plans for influencer engagement - something that has been even more important since Covid, whilst the feedback on our curriculum process has led to a review of how we manage applicants who don't get onto their first-choice course.

“Another key element is Chalkstream’s ability to break down the data to deliver insight to senior leadership. This helps to ensure that the results are embedded into our strategy across the college rather than just being a nice set of data developed by the marketing function.”

Lee Parker, Director of Marketing and Communications, Milton Keynes College

Understand the impact of major change

In 2019 Havant and South Downs College (HSDC) and Alton College commissioned Chalkstream to generate insight through research support about the potential impact of their recent merger on students, applicants and staff stakeholders. The research was used to inform future brand architecture, marketing, curriculum, public relations and broader operational planning in relation to merger.  


"Chalkstream were fantastic, they handled changes in timeline and data from our side with the utmost professionalism. …This has been incredibly insightful, and we used some of the finding instantly and are continuing to do so in all of our recruitment activities.”

Jane Golds, Head of Marketing and Communications, HSDC

Support a profession

Chalkstream has conducted the annual State of PR survey on behalf of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) since 2018. The survey is the largest and most comprehensive of its kind in the industry and informs the CIPR’s strategic planning – including communication, partnerships, training and public affairs strategies – as well as generating insight for academic research, industrial planning and more.

“Chalkstream performs very well, on time and to a high standard…The survey provides us with industry data on the trends, issues and challenges impacting public relations so we can benchmark standards and spotlighted stories that guide our work as well as insights into our commercial offerings to help us improve our member service.”

John Gerlis, Public Relations and Policy Manager, CIPR

Improve performance

Chalkstream supported The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) on two key projects in 2017 and 2018 - the development of ZSL’s strategic planning process and the development of its HR strategy to meet the organisation's needs.  That support included strategic consultancy and reputation research services.

“Working with Chalkstream has been an intellectually stimulating and collaborative process. Ben is excellent at driving work forward at an excellent pace. He is highly regarded by all that have worked with him at ZSL and he comes highly recommended as a strategic thinker.”

Fiona Evans, former head of HR, ZSL

Develop a location

In 2019, London South East Colleges (LSEC) commissioned Chalkstream to provide detailed research in support of plans for the development of a London Aerospace and Technology College at London Biggin Hill Airport in the South East of England. 

“We are extremely pleased with the outputs generated, some of which have transformed our thinking and are informing our employer responsive programmes and curriculum planning.  A number of unexpected additional benefits including sponsorship offers have been clearly gathered and reported on." 

Louise Wolsey, Group Executive Director Strategy, Communications & Organisational Development, LSEC

Improve customer service

The City & Guilds Group commissioned Chalkstream to undertake a forensic re-evaluation of customer experience in order to  support the best possible customer experience, drive efficient growth among its international portfolio of businesses and inform its strategic decisions for the future. 

"The project was to a tight deadline and required some challenging respondent recruitment. The analysis was also quite complex and needed to draw from both the primary research and other sources to tell a clear story back to the business. Chalkstream were excellent – professional, thoughtful, thorough and produce high quality outputs that have proven very useful since the project completion. I have already recommended Chalkstream to my colleagues, and I’m pleased that are continuing to provide an excellent research service to different parts of our business."

Shuba Krishnan, Customer Experience and Insight Manager, City & Guilds 

Manage a crisis

Ben Verinder, Chalkstream MD, delivers online masterclasses in crisis communication to delegates from around the world. Those attending a masterclass in late 2020 said: 

"An excellent masterclass - really useful in the current COVID climate with some great practical tips on how to manage crisis communication effectively.

Great masterclass, Ben is full of knowledge and provided some excellent tips on how to handle crisis communications."

"Ben Verinder is very experienced in the area of crisis communications. His presentations are always thoughtful and well-presented. His advice is logical and well-reasoned. It's easy to follow and adaptable to any situation. Having received advice and training from Ben before, I'd highly recommend any of his seminars."


"This masterclass was really useful, offered excellent insight and advice, as well as valuable resources that will really help us to forward plan. At a time that communications are so crucial, this was really invaluable."


"Credible, highly knowledgeable speaker with significant expertise in his field. Extremely helpful session with great participant comments and questions."


"A really useful and engaging workshop. Great to have access to ask direct questions and hear from others."

Grow a business

Bedford College Group has commissioned Chalkstream to undertake a wide range of research projects. These include a 2016 study involving both primary and secondary research to give the Group a better understanding of competitors, local skill demands and the needs of employers in order to grow its apprenticeship business. 

“The results clearly identified what we need to do to improve and grow our apprenticeship provision. The research will ultimately support our strategy to significantly grow.

“Chalkstream clearly detailed the methodology and approach they planned to take, along with timescales, right from the offset, so it was easy to follow the progress of the project.


“Because they are able to access such a wide range of secondary reports, which are not always in the public domain, and drew on their past experiences of working on similar projects, we really benefited from this in terms of extending the scope of the project and how it should be structured to get the best results.


“What we particularly liked was that it provided us with recommendations - when we have worked with other agencies, we’ve just been sent the results and have had to spend time analysing them to draw our own conclusions. This saved us a lot of time and because the recommendations were presented by Chalkstream to the SMT, the SMT now have a clear understanding of what now needs to be done.”


Sarah Baxter, Executive Director - Sales & Marketing, The Bedford College Group

Recruit and retain more students

Chalkstream was commissioned by the New City College to undertake research among non-enrolled applicants and students who enrolled but did not attend a college - in order to understand what the college could do to change behaviours in the future and boost both recruitment and retention.

"With detailed insight from Chalkstream, New City College’s senior team created a multi-faceted recruitment and retention strategy.

"The research directed our focus to specific areas of curriculum and student support as well as messaging and promotion. Less than a year later, we’ve recruited and retained learners comfortably over our allocation, leading to welcome uplift funding. There is no doubt that our work with Chalkstream set us in the right direction to reach this positive position."

Ruth Lomax Group Director, Communications and Marketing, New City College 

Manage reputation

Chalkstream developed and delivered a new reputation leadership course for higher education senior postholders, on behalf of HE policy experts Wonkhe.

"The team at Chalkstream are expert communicators, both in the content they deliver and the way they go about it. Constantly engaging and full of insight, they provide the highest quality professional development.”

Ant Bagshaw, (former) Deputy Director, Wonkhe

Adapt to a new operating or funding environment

The National Student Engagement Partnership (TSEP) commissioned Chalkstream to undertaken specialist market research among higher and further education institutions to help it reposition the organisation in a changing environment. In particular TSEP wanted to understand client views on service value and offer, product development, cost and competitors. It wanted to understand more about decision-makers within organisations, their influencers and networks. 

"Chalkstream are highly knowledge, professional and organised. They very quickly understood our organisation’s needs, and navigated complex issues in order to gather extremely useful insight across different stakeholders that will support our future business planning. The team produce great results and we really enjoyed working with them."

Ellie Russell, Student Engagement Partnership Manager, NUS 

Best serve your communities


MidKent College asked Chalkstream to undertake an extended reputation analysis to help it understand how different stakeholder groups viewed the college, and to inform efforts to cement its place at the heart of the communities we serve.


"The Chalkstream team was particularly driven to secure high-quality results, advised our team of the most effective methodologies, consulted with us at every stage, and brought their considerable experience to the project to secure excellent engagement from all stakeholder groups.


"The project delivered an incredibly rich set of evidence-based results that truly help us understand how we can improve our standing in the community. Our senior team is working with colleagues from across the College to design and deliver an action plan that we are confident will support this.


"Thank you to Ben, David, and the Chalkstream team for an excellent piece of work."

Steve Hyland, Director Of Communications and Marketing, MidKent College

Communicate with impact 


The Quadram Institute commissioned Chalkstream to deliver reputation research in order to inform a new communications and engagement strategy. 


"As a new UK science institute we really wanted to understand how our key stakeholders, and the wider public, perceived the Quadram Institute and its research.


"Chalkstream efficiently designed and delivered a robust market research programme that’s given us much greater insight into our strengths and weaknesses.


"We now have a solid baseline from which to build a new communications and engagement strategy, focusing on the key audiences and relationships we need to develop.”

Andrew Stronach, Head of External Relations and Engagement, Quadram Institute

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