La Retraite is an outstanding girls’ school steeped in history with over 140 years of providing a Catholic education in Clapham Park, South West London. The school has survived wars and transformed and expanded throughout the decades. From small acorns grow mighty oaks; the founding religious order, the sisters of Les Dames de La Retraite, would be enormously proud of the legacy and heritage that continues in the life blood of this school.

The school wanted to ensure it continued the huge responsibility of securing its future for decades to come and to raise its profile at a time when applications were falling and there was a struggle to recruit Catholic families. A research project was undertaken with a deep dive into qualitative and quantitative data. No stone was left unturned as we ran focus groups and undertook surveys that reviewed perceptions from the widest of stakeholders; from students and staff, to prospective families and primary schools, to the wider community and local parishes.

With the findings in hand, we took action on all fronts and currently work as the school’s in-house marketing team, on a managed service to embed the strategy. Our collective biggest priority was profile raising and working with primary schools. The student experience was crystallised and packaged, as was the staff experience through an Employee Value Proposition (EVP) and staff prospectus. Key recruitment strategies were put in place for both students and staff. We were also tasked with creating campaigns to build internal pride and the “Traits of a La Retraite girl” started to take shape. There is a legacy campaign that showcases student outcomes and the school has reached out to their alumnae who are now actively involved with the school. Strong relationships have been fostered with the community, local primary schools and parishes in Lambeth and Southwark. Work continues apace with the launch of a new primary schools’ programme, sixth form marketing, parental engagement, community engagement, and primary liaison and transition – onsite rather than virtual!


It’s been a real journey with Grebot Donnelly as they devised our marketing strategy from ground zero. They are founding members of an internal marketing team whilst they train and build our own in-house team, ensuring key members of staff are assigned responsibilities for various marketing strands. They orchestrated our open event season during the pandemic and created huge content to engage with existing and prospective students and families. Also, a candidate for a Computing post commented on the impressive staff offer that she read about on the website – and accepted the post - Computing teachers are like gold dust. In year one of working with them, our first preferences went up an incredible 67%. We’ve really enjoyed working with Grebot Donnelly and have seen a massive impact - the only challenge is keeping up with them!"

Mr Dominic Malins, Headteacher