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Prospecting for gold: the recruitment & consolidation of student numbers in a pandemic

Posted by Aimee Monteith on 18/01/21 08:54

We all know that these are unprecedented times and the world will never be the same again, but one thing is for certain in the world of education and that is that the wheels will keep turning.

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More specifically in terms of student recruitment for September 2021, National Offer Day (NOD - 1st March) is fast approaching.
The apprehension of Year 6 pupils and their parents still remains, if not heightened. They would have experienced a very unusual open evening/day and now a secondary school place will be offered to them – all in the confines of a virtual experience and world.

For those secondary schools that are ahead of the game and have planned their virtual events in March to coincide with NOD and to support the consolidation of student numbers, a big thumbs up. Also, for those future-focused leaders that are planning their student prospecting for 2022 we have also shared some suggestions for you to consider incorporating into your marketing strategy. For everyone else, join our upcoming free secondary schools’ marketing workshop to find out more.

We have scoured other sectors to learn techniques that can be adapted by schools not just in the short term, but in the longer term as we all come to terms with the fact that the pandemic will have a long-lasting effect on how we interact.

The first of many nuggets is around information. Whilst the debate continues on the best form of communication, we know that schools are improving their methods by using video much more extensively than ever before. We also know that using images within social media improves engagement. As keen advocates for a broad marketing mix, we are encouraging our partner schools to mix up the mix!

During open event season in September and October, we were impressed with how schools were showcasing quality content with engaging online interviews, presentations, feature tutorials, testimonials from students, staff parents and governors. But what next, how do you consolidate student numbers for September 2021?

So you’ve now engaged with your prospective Year 7 students and their families – you’ve captured their attention and interest, but is there anything else? How about virtual activities, complemented by engaging marketing materials – downloadable videos, newsletter e-shots, buddying student messages, parent/student handbooks linked to your induction process, and then a final call to action!One of the marketing challenges ahead is to ensure students accept the place offered at your school. We believe there is a raft of opportunities building on what you’ve already achieved, including: an interview with the Head of Year 7, interviews with current Year 7 and sixth form students, virtual meetings with Year 7 parents and potential buddying schemes, interviews with the PTA or equivalent, an online workshop with your governors. These short films can also be pre-recorded and then made available on all your current channels – website, Youtube, Instagram….

Here are just a few suggestions: themed assemblies, staff workshops, interactive activities, pre-recorded parent workshops, online lessons with competitions, interactive language sessions – maybe even sign language! For those that are ahead in videography and content planning, you will be showcasing your extra-curricular offer through a creative approach like setting a series of prospective student challenges between March and September, eg. running a marathon or climbing Kilimanjaro, and learning new skills – languages, cookery/baking, dancing, calligraphy, photography, coding, arts and crafts. There’s so much on offer for free on the world wide web – it takes time and imagination but, we believe, worth the effort to secure student numbers and, compiled effectively, these resources will serve you well for years to come!

For most, the golden sky beyond the fields of gold, seems a long way off and the reality of the situation is that nobody, right now, knows what the future holds. What we do know is that those organisations, and schools, that are focused on the future will be more prepared for the challenges ahead and also ahead in terms of student recruitment.

Leadership, adaptation, innovation and proactivity are key, but more importantly collaboration and community. Where is your school in terms of drawing up plans to cultivate your own success stories?

Join us at our free online secondary schools’ marketing workshop, click here to book your place

Topics: School Capacity, Marketing Consultancy, Pupil Recruitment