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.
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 www.cgs.act.edu.au. If you know news will drive people to your website it is best to be well prepared for it.
"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."
"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."
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?
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.
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?”
Check it out at CMS Books.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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
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.
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.
Jack Goodman, CEO and Founder, of www.YourTutor.com.au 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.
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.”
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 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.
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.
The Centre for Marketing Schools is an international network of people passionate about schools. Founded by Dr Linda Vining the Centre is now led by Neil Pierson.
Join us. Together we can learn, share ideas and tell the unique story of our school community.