October 28, 2016 Terry Freedman

Ours is a GOOD school

Sometimes I drive past schools that have a banner announcing that Ofsted says they are a GOOD school – perhaps your school has such a banner.

Advertising like that is good – as far as it goes. However, it's a bit like a telecoms company saying that Ofcom says is a good provider, or Ofqual saying that a qualification is good.

When a regulatory body says an organisation, product or service is good, what they mean is that it meets all the necessary requirements. But that is the minimum amount of information that people go by when deciding whether or not to become a consumer themselves.

In the context of schools, parents take other factors into account. A study carried out by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) in 2015* found that a school's Ofsted rating was the third most important reason for choosing a school, after "A school that is right for my child" and "School is local". After that were "Examination results", "Well-qualified staff" and "Discipline/behaviour".

Another interesting finding was that parents talk to other parents about potential schools. It seems that 79% of higher income families, 71% of middle income families and 69% of lower income families do so. To put it in business marketing terms, word of mouth is hugely important.

How might your school make use of these results? One way would be to conduct a parental survey every so often, asking parents what they like about the school, and what they would like to see improved. If you can obtain quotes (with permission, of course), along the lines of "My daughter has grown in self-confidence since joining the guitar club", or statistics like "83% of our parents think that the school is excellent for their child", you can include them in your school brochure.

Another option is to include "factoids" at the bottom of your text messages ad emails to parents. For example, bearing in mind the research quoted above, a statement like "All of our teachers have a university degree", or "40% of our teachers have a Masters degree", could be good marketing in the longer term.

Obviously, you have to be careful. If the statement is too long, people won't read it. If it goes out on its own, it will be regarded (rightly) as spam.

However, if you're contacting parents anyway, adding a useful or interesting fact about the school could be a relatively low-cost way of doing a spot of marketing at the same time.

 

Terry Freedman writes about educational Computing, and other topics, on his website ICT & Computing in Education, and his newsletter, Digital Education.