Schools and academies that take an active marketing approach for their services can see growth in pupil numbers.
As the budgets tighten, more and more schools, maintained as well as academies, understand that increasing intake is essential to addressing the challenges of reduced budgets.
During many of our school visits, we see lots of schools have gaps in pupil numbers. Reduced revenue has resulted in cancelling extra-curricular activities, and reducing staff.
A proactive approach to pupil recruitment will help address some of the burden on the budget. In Darlington for example, in 2017 each secondary pupil generates an additional £4,300 per annum: £21,500 if they remain for 5 years. Primary pupils an additional £2,500 per annum: £17,500 if they remain for 7 years.
So what makes parents choose a school? Naturally, location and siblings have an influence, however, we have found that a school’s reputation and a warm welcome are important.
The Ofsted report is a consideration to families who are maybe moving into the area, and most parents would look at this, rather than a league table. Results aren’t always the most important thing to parents. The ethos, and other areas of the school, such as sport and drama are influential.
Parents prefer an informative and attractive school website to provide the information they need about a school. They want to visit the school, meet the head teacher and staff who will be teaching their children and see existing pupils in their classroom environment.
So what does a more proactive approach to marketing school places involve?
Understand potential new parents
Smart School Websites, provide an online form for our schools. This means they systematically collect the names and contact details of parents who register an interest in the school. We include GDPR regulation forms about using personal information, this supports the school to follow up every event with an email reinforcing key messages and inviting questions.
Keep prospective parents informed on school news and events. People need more than one contact before they take action and apply; get this right and prospective parents will feel valued and want to send their children to your school.
Using social media to promote a school makes some schools nervous, but we know the benefits far outweigh negative implications. Setting up a school Facebook page and a Twitter account is free advertising.
We appreciate that there are negative comments in social media, and we recommend that someone in the school is monitoring accounts. Settings can be applied that require approval for posts. This means that you can deal directly with any negative comments. Smart School Websites admin area also allows website posts that can automatically push to social media. One push of a button can send information across various platforms.
Data is key
It surprised us that so many schools don’t regularly monitor their website data or look at the Facebook or Twitter analytics. Data is key to improving the way your marketing works. If you are not getting many hits on your admissions, book a tour, or register your interest pages, try looking at how a parent would navigate to those pages. Ask your website provider to change the navigation if required. Regular feedback from parents is a great way to understand what they currently think of the school. Be prepared for honest opinions!
A live feedback online form on a Smart School Website gives insight into what is working to attract parents. Just remember successful marketing is all about telling your audience about what a great school you are and then following through to meet parent’s expectations. Work out what you do well and keep doing it. A popular report we regularly see to parents is ‘You Say. We Do’