Past Newsletters

Issue 641 - 1-nov-2015

Why would someone want to teach at your school?

Attracting quality applications for teaching roles is important. Sometimes it is based on your school’s location. For others it is your reputation. Harlem Village Academies created a video Why teach with us? to help explain to prospective teachers what attitudes they are looking for. “If you are passionate about education and social justice, join our team of teachers and leaders serving Harlem's children.” The video includes Hugh Jackman as well as TV news interviews with their passionate leader.

What does your school do to explain to prospective teachers “Why teach with us?”

Issue 641 - 1-nov-2015

Communicating major decisions to your school community

Reece Cummings, Communications & Marketing Manager at Canberra Grammar School shared a press release with us of a major change for their school. A decision, for what is considered a ‘boys’ school, to become co-educational is not something to be rushed. The school chose to announce the decision at the same time as relaunching their website If you know news will drive people to your website it is best to be well prepared for it.

I encourage you to explore the new school website and especially how they are communicating their announcement to both current and prospective parents and students.

Here are some quotes from the booklet “Boys and Girls Together for the Future” and the website as they preempt many of the questions that parents will naturally be asking.

"CGS will not be a boys school with some girls, but a School where boys and girls can learn and flourish together in an environment where they are equal citizens, each valued for their talents, personality and qualities that he or she bring to the School."

"We are delighted by this development, which builds on forty years of co-education in our early Primary School."

"This has not been a decision taken lightly nor rapidly, nor will the transition happen all at once; indeed, its pace will in part be determined by community demand and by our desire that no boy currently waiting for a place be disadvantaged."

Having promoted single sex education it can be a challenge to now promote the benefits of coeducation. Rather than ignoring the concern the booklet addresses this, and many other questions.

"We know, therefore, that this decision will be welcomed by many; indeed we know that many parents have called for it for years, or, in frustration, have chosen other schools instead of ours. We recognise, too, however, that for some this is not the choice that they made in joining the School nor will it seem a reflection of the School’s predominantly masculine history and traditions. We respect that and have not rushed towards this change, which will be introduced over a number of years. Ultimately, however, we know that this step is in the interests of our students. It will provide them with an education that best prepares them for their future in the modern world. It is also essential for the School’s on-going capacity to flourish."

"There are far greater differences in learning styles within each gender group than there are between the two."

Well done Reece and team on helping communicate this change.

Issue 640 - 25-Oct-2015

How do you advertise marketing roles at your school?

Your recruitment advertisements for teachers, administration support and other staff offer a window into your school community. Take a look at your job advertisements. Do they reflect your school well?

Michelle Favero, Marketing and Communications Manager at Emanuel School recently advertised for a marketing role. The creativity of the advertisement appealed to me so I wanted to share it with you. If you want to attract creative people it can pay to do something out of the ordinary. One word stands out to me in the advert. It is the word “love” and it is used twice. 

Do you have other examples of job advertisements the network could learn from?

Issue 640 - 25-Oct2015

Mark Zuckerberg invests in the future of schools

Breaking away from how we do schools is challenging. A recent article Mark Zuckerberg invests in the future of schools tells the story of AltSchool. It is a deliberately alternative school which celebrates its differences rather than trying to be the same as other schools. It is a bold strategy which will attract one niche segment of the community while repelling others.

Some quotes:
“There’s no such thing as a third-grader,” says Ventilla. “There’s each child who has their own experience.”
Other terms AltSchool avoids are “teachers”, “schools” and “classrooms”. Rather there are “educators”, “learning labs” and “studios”.
There’s no bell to signal the end of a period or recess. Instead, “learning blocks” are meant to end organically. Bells feel too disconnected from the real world.

You, and your school leadership, may not like alternative schools – or they may. Our role is to recognise their selling points and attraction so we can better understand our own offering.

Issue 640 - 25-Oct-2015

What motivates your school volunteers?

As you read this I will be recovering from a 111km overnight canoe race – hopefully having finished it. The race attracts hundreds of paddlers with a wide variety of craft, age, fitness and motivation. An event like this relies on hundreds of volunteers at various checkpoints. What motivates these volunteers? Is it shared experiences, friendship, feeling like being part of something bigger, excitement, a desire to give something back, or simply having something to talk about when people ask “what did you do on the weekend?” 

This canoe race wouldn’t happen without these valuable volunteers. The same is true of many schools. Understanding the variety of reasons parents, grandparents and locals serve in schools, or how to motivate them, was why Dr Linda Vining wrote the book Working with Volunteers in Schools. This book has been around for a while but still is a valuable resource to understand how to deal with volunteers and also how to make the volunteer process a positive one.

Check it out at CMS Books.

Issue 639 - 18-oct-2015

Segregation by schools

Responding to the increasing multiculturalism, especially in major population areas, can be a challenge for schools. Like attracts like. For some parents multiculturalism is an attraction and an opportunity for their child. For other parents multiculturalism, or culture imbalances, can be threatening. Often in Australia the media uses sensational language and advocates the benefits of multiculturalism. As a school marketer is it important however that you understand your own school community and culture rather than assume everyone thinks like you. 

A Sydney Morning Herald article under the title of ‘The Sydney Schools becoming anglo ghettos’’ identified “11 private high schools in the [lower North Shore of Sydney] area where the proportion of students from language backgrounds other than English was at or below 20 per cent. Queenwood School for Girls in Mosman had the lowest share (2 per cent) followed by St Ignatius College Riverview in Lane Cove (5 per cent) and Monte Sant' Angelo Mercy College in North Sydney (6 per cent). However, in two selective public high schools in the area - North Sydney Boys and North Sydney Girls - the proportion of students from a language background other than English was above 90 per cent. At the nearby comprehensive public schools Chatswood High and Willoughby Girls High the proportion was 76 per cent and 57 per cent respectively. "You can walk between some of these schools in a few minutes and yet one is like a white bubble and the other is like a non-white bubble," 

The writer sees this situation as a problem. Others would see it as healthy that parents have options of what communities they choose to be part of. How does your school celebrate its' culture?

Issue 639 - 18-oct-2015

Celebrate what makes your school unique

Most schools do most things the same even if the quality of facilities may vary. When a school chooses to do something different it will attract some people while repelling others. This takes courage. West Rise Junior School in East Sussex is unconventional. This promotional introduction video celebrates what they do differently. With a weekly radio shows, clay pigeon shooting, archery, fires and animals the curriculum is not your standard private English school offering.

What does your school do which is unique? Video can often be the best way to demonstrate it.

Issue 639 - 18-oct-2015

Be a participant rather than a spectator in your school experiences

Last week’s three day Silver Duke of Edinburgh hike with 24 teenagers was a rewarding yet challenging experience for me. It was a reminder that a great deal of life education happens outside the classroom. It was also a reminder of how much fitter some teenagers are! Shared experiences between students and staff provide opportunities to see how each other respond. Leaders in a classroom setting can be different to those who rise in outdoor adventures. It was wonderful to see many students serving each other, being pushed beyond their comfort and the encouragement that was given. There was also gratitude for the places we were able to go and the staff who helped make it happen.

It is experiences like this that students and staff will talk about for years to come. I encourage school marketers to take the opportunity to be participants rather than spectators of what your school offers.

Issue 638 - 11-oct-2015

Respect helps hold on to your good teachers

This week I am doing a three day hike in the Blue Mountains as part of the Silver Duke of Edinburgh program. The teacher who runs the program volunteers to lead a group of 20 to 70 teenage students on various two day, three day and longer hikes during the year. It is a big commitment beyond his normal classroom lessons.

He is a younger teacher so this article seemed appropriate to raise. “According to Monash University researcher Dr Philip Riley, 40-50 per cent of young teachers leave within the first five years. With that kind of churn, firing bad teachers is not the issue. Hanging on to good ones is much more of the problem.”

Jane Caro, a vocal supporter of teachers in Australia says in the article “It is hardly surprising that so many of them depart so soon. Watching my daughter in her first 18 months as an English and drama teacher in a Western Sydney public high school has been an education in itself. I have literally never seen anyone work so hard. She leaves home before 6.00 am and rarely returns before 6.00 pm. She plans lessons all holidays, and marks homework and assignments every evening and all weekend. She loves her job, particularly her students, but wonders why she is paid so little in comparison to her Civil Engineer partner who works much shorter hours and has much more administrative support.”

“It's not rocket science. You attract great talent the same way in every profession. You provide good working conditions… give your staff professional respect and courtesy, you trust them to know what they are doing and let them get on with it.”

This week as you see teachers serving, teaching, helping and possibly getting frustrated I encourage you to take the time to give them some encouragement, thanks and respect. The experiences these teachers are creating is the heart of your school and the basis of the stories your students and parents will be telling their friends.

Source: > A little respect: attracting top teachers is not rocket science 

Issue 638 - 11-oct-2015

The power of cinema advertising for schools

The lights dimmed, the curtain pulled back and the advertisements started. Cinema advertising cannot be fast forwarded, muted and the audience are less likely to continue their conversation through it. As my daughter and I waited for the movie Everest to start one advertisement stood out to me. It was for Newington College in Sydney with their consistent theme of “Discover what’s possible.” 

Back in 2010 Newington released a beautiful cinema advertisement which attracted considerable media attention. It was interesting for me to see they have continued to use this advertising medium. As few schools (in Sydney) are currently using this medium it is easier to stand out.  Interestingly Newington College’s main campus is located over 20km from the cinema on the other side of the city. Enjoy this series of advertisements from the College, ranging from 30 to 60 seconds long. 

Lindfield Kindergarten to Year 6 Campus

Cinema Advertisement 2013

Cinema Advertisement 2010

Issue 637 - 20-Sep-2015

Take parents with you on a journey of changing education

Parents have varying expectations of education. Video is one way of explaining to them the directions your school is taking and helping them see how it can be different to their own education. Show and tell can be more powerful than written or spoken words alone. Alana Johnson, of Living Faith Lutheran Primary School shared a video about the opening of their new learning spaces. This is an excerpt from their press release. 

“Times are changing and so is our approach to teaching and learning. After much research and investigation, 2015 saw Living Faith broaden its horizons with the opening of its Learning Plaza for Year 6 students. The Learning Plaza aims to prepare students for their future, not our past… They are no longer confined to a bench mark in Criteria. Students have told us that the three top things that appeal to them and keep them engaged in their learning within the Learning Plaza are: the use of modern technology (iPads, Apple TV), the flexibility to be creative and the agile working spaces.”

Issue 637 - 20-Sep-2015

Is a document always the best choice?

Does your school rely too much on written documents, emails and printed marketing material? Greg Pendlebury of Think-write Consulting suggests “Sometimes meeting face to face is more effective than writing. Or perhaps a telephone conversation. One of the disadvantages of a letter, email or other document is the time gap between writing and reading. You can exchange ideas faster by talking. Follow up later with a written record of the conversation and agreement if necessary.”

Verbal communication helps build relationships. It can appear to be more time consuming but often it is quicker and clearer.

Issue 637 - 20-sep-2015

The two questions to ask your Alumni

Deidré Proxenos, Marketing Manager of Dainfern College explained she had feedback from parents that they were not well informed about what the College’s alumni achieved after school. Deidre contacted a few alumni and asked them to answer two questions 

1. What are you doing now?
2. How had Dainfern College helped you with your studies and career? 

Deidre got a 90% response. She explains “the feedback was actually overwhelming. It think because it was also only two questions and I asked for only two paragraphs - it wasn't a mammoth task for them. We included one paragraph per week in all our newsletters (Prep school and High school) with an introduction as to why we were including it. We also put these on our alumni facebook page and included them in our termly alumni newsletter. We have had fantastic feedback from our parents, other alumni and strangely enough, also ex-staff who still stay in touch with us.”

Deidre believes “parents need to see beyond the final school year and this enables them to see that our students are equipped for the future and well prepared for the BIG world.”

Issue 636 - 13-Sept-2015

Surveying students and parents is a good reality check

In Australia, Year 12 students are nearing completion of their education. In the coming months there will be graduations, formals and final exams. This may be the last time your school can engage with them and hear their feedback. For some parents it will also be the end of a long session of association with your school and the community. Don’t miss this opportunity to listen on what they loved, were frustrated by and their suggestions for the future. Their comments can be food for thought or gold for your marketing.

The Centre for Marketing Schools offers a range of online and paper based surveys to assist schools in asking for, collating and tracking feedback. See the range > School Satisfaction Survey 


Issue 636 - 13-Sept-2015

Promotional video brings together school community

When your school’s Alumni and parent community includes film makers, editors, script writers and advertising professionals it makes sense to engage them in promotional efforts. 

Barrenjoey High School, a government school in Sydney, involved 120 students in their video. The backing music, Paper Aeroplane, is performed by students with permission from the artists. The video includes snippers of sport, music, food, art, sport grounds, library, an awards presentation and parents with their children. The physical location is shown by use of a drone. While several schools may offer surfing for school sport, Barrenjoey is unusual in that Avalon Beach is a short walk away. 

See how the local newspaper reported on the video production > Barrenjoey High’s promotional video draws on legendary alumni 

Issue 636 - 13-Sep-2015

Spot typos before your school parents do

Jack Goodman, CEO and Founder, of spotted a typo in a quote I included in last week's newsletter. He offers a timely reminder that “Schools need to be so careful about grammar, spelling and punctuation. Because even if kids don't know it, parents often do, and it can be incredibly off-putting. Even a small mistake in a school report can destroy confidence so quickly.”

The challenge in schools is that some teachers are brilliant in the classroom but not when it comes to spelling and grammar. The parents may not see them in the classroom and can only base their impression on written communication. Having a centralised proof reader, and standardised format for communication to parents may slow down the process, but can dramatically reduce the number of errors both in text and design. As Jack says “I always wonder about pointing out typos, though in the end, I think it's the right thing to do. This can turn into a compulsion if one isn't careful!”

If you know a teacher at your school who is a poor speller, offer to help them. It may help your school reputation and also save them embarrassment.

Issue 635 - 06-Sept-2015

Early leaving of teachers from career hurts schools

New teachers can inject fresh ideas and passion into the classroom. If they are career changers then they also bring life experience. Caring for all teachers is important, yet new teachers are the ones more likely to resign. One article, ‘Young educators are resigning from their jobs at an alarming rate’, stated “They [new teachers], generally speaking, can handle the kids OK, unless they’re put into extremely difficult classes, which does happen sometimes. But some of them said what they weren’t prepared for was the staffroom.”  

Earlier this year I visited a school to assist with some marketing ideas. I also learnt from them. One innovation I liked was that rather than having a teacher’s aid, they had introduced some Floating Teachers. These Floating Teachers were new teaching graduates. Rather than allocating them a single class to teach, and all the responsibility that goes with it, they were effectively continuing their training. They had exposure to multiple classrooms, teachers and students. They could take a single lesson, a whole day or possibly a week for one class. When staff were sick they could relieve them, at a cheaper rate than a casual, but were already more involved and familiar with the class. I expect this model will result in better retention of new teachers as well as improved teacher training.

Issue 635 - 06-Sept-2015

Catholic schools in USA enrolments decline 63%

In Australia, one in five students is educated in a Catholic school. The movement is healthy and growing. However, in the USA it is a different story. It is good for us, as school marketers, to understand that society expectations and demographics can change dramatically and none of our schools are guaranteed to survive.

When announcing the closure of another school, as reported in the article Final Mass: When a Catholic School runs out of money , a spokesperson for the Diocese of Cincinnati said “We close schools, ultimately, because they're out of money. We examined every manner of restoring that school. ... We believe in Catholic education, and when we close a school, something dies."

The article puts the closure in perspective with these statistics - “While some are exploding, turning away hopeful applicants, others are dwindling to nothing. In the early 1960s, there were more than 5.2 million students in nearly 13,000 Catholic schools in the US, according to the National Catholic Educational Association. Today, that number is down to 1.9 million."

Issue 635 - 06-Sept-2015

Showcasing student work in opening of new building

When Northern Beaches Christian School  opened their latest building, the Manhattan & The City  precinct, they used a stunning fly-through video which was created by two students. This building project is a fairly radical educational design concept for schools. 


During construction, the school also had a professional video created. The beauty of this video is how it included interviews of students and teachers talking about the educational opportunities the new building would provide.


Issue 634 - 30-aug-2015

Hugh Jackman fails at teacher interview

Your teachers are the face of your school. They are the ones who create the experiences for students. They are the ones students talk about to their parents and friends. The general word-of-mouth conversations about your school has more to do with your teachers than your facilities, events or academic record.

Helping prospective, and current teachers, understand what is expected of them at your school is important. Harlem Academy in USA had actor Hugh Jackman assist them in showing what a teacher is not. Enjoy this humorous video of him being interviewed for a teaching role. Over the years since it was released this video has generated the school a lot of interest from teachers – and parents.