The staff room is typically the central hub of a school pulsating with everyday trials, tribulations and jubilations along with chocolates, biscuits and cakes! This autumn term the key priorities of communications, pupil recruitment and managing the school’s reputation continues at a pace with the same deadlines but complicated by new and additional problems and challenges. With a whole new world ahead of us, rather than looking to overcome these challenges is it time to face them head on? Is it time to adapt and do things differently? How ready is your school in dealing with these key areas that will ultimately impact on the school’s future?
The key messages currently are around the safety of children and staff and getting this right whilst balancing the communications that celebrate the life of the school and the successes of pupils and staff. All of this whilst taking a collective breath and looking externally; the pressing matters of open event season, reaching out to prospective parents, interacting with your community, the closing dates for pupil applications still remain. Add to the mix that traditional open mornings/days/evenings have been cancelled and that parental information gathering and curiosity is not being sated what else is your school offering?Our new reality now that coronavirus has sent the world online means that almost everything has gone virtual. Schools have responded tremendously from online teaching to virtual tours but what else is necessary to guarantee the future of your school in terms of pupil numbers, securing high quality staff and enhancing the school’s reputation?
Your school website, and shop window to the world, has never been more important. A basic presence is no longer sufficient – take a fresh look at yours, with a strong pair of bifocals, from the perspective of current and prospective families and staff. High quality images, up-to-date content, videos, newsletters, pupil experiences, testimonials and curriculum features are just the starting point.
But then there’s a big BUT! Who knows about your website? You probably have current parents online but what about prospective families and your community? How are you engaging with them? The answer is social media – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube – to name but a few. What is your presence online and how are you maximising these free channels to help you promote your school and manage or enhance your school’s reputation?
Schools are creative organisms and with ingenuity, purpose and perseverance will find new and exciting ways of communicating and managing their reputation. In the words of Forrest Gump and his famous quote ‘Life is like a box of chocolates’: we know that life is full of surprises and we never know what will happen next but we can at least reinvent, refresh and be brave in this brand new world!