Several years ago I attended a conference where the keynote speaker was Dr Barrett Mosbacker. In an age where technology promises so much he reminded us that teachers are still vital – unless they are replaceable. In his article ‘Do We Need Teachers or Are They Becoming Obsolete?’ he reminds us of the human element of teaching…
“Transmitting knowledge is necessary for a good education but is not sufficient. Teaching and educating are not necessarily synonymous. No matter how sophisticated our technology becomes, it is doubtful that it can replace educators. Here is why.
The transfer of information does not:
• Equal nor impart wisdom
• Provide a role model
• Convey passion and a love of a subject
• Build relationships nor teach how to navigate difficult relationships
• Add the emotional element vital to learning
• Question deeply by engaging in Socratic dialog
• Mentor students
• Serve students
• Pray for students
• Love students
Technology can only be conceived as a replacement for traditional classroom teachers if we reduce teaching to the transfer of information, drilling skills, and preparation for test taking. Sadly, too many teachers have been reduced to this mundane level: such teachers ARE replaceable.”
Does your website enable prospective parents to see inside your school? While Hagley College’s website does have quite a bit of text it is their use of photos and videos which tell more of the story. How better to showcase thetalents of students than with a series of videos > News Events at Hagley
Everyone knows the media is a powerful medium to promote your school. Many local newspapers have regular features which focus on schools. Take advantage of these free opportunities to provide stories about what is happening in the life of your school. To take it a step further, Steve Harrison in his Publicity & Publishing Tips suggest that you don’t just tell another story about your school.
The goal is to position your school as solving problems and thinking about big issues. Steve also says “Don’t pitch your expertise. Pitch a story about problems your expertise helps people solve.” Different hooks attract different media.
Here are some ideas to consider talking about:
• Educational trends and changes you are seeing
• How to deal with teenagers
• Top 10 Study Tips from Exam markers
• The importance of sleep for students
‘Managing the Media’ is a Module in the popular > Diploma in School Marketing. This is a six month distance education course offered by the Centre for Marketing Schools. One of our current students, Dirk, says, “I am thoroughly enjoying the course and the reading. What I learnt in Module 1 helped me get my current job”. Semester 2 begins in June.You can read lots of student testimonials from around the world.
Townsville Grammar School in Queensland, Australia is celebrating their 125th Anniversary, with various events happening throughout the year. Today is Mother's Day in Australia, so for all the Mum's who work so hard in schools, we thought we'd feature Townsville Grammar School's 125th Anniversary Cookbook.
Here is Kim Steele’s story, Assistant Director of Enrolments and Publications at the school: “The book features recipes from current TGS families, past students and past/current staff members, with most recipes submitted through an online form on the website. Almost every recipe submitted was included in the book. The book took almost a year to complete from start to finish, gathering recipes and stories, cooking and photographing, editing, adding historical information and then printing. Parents, especially the Mums, helped out over three very long photography days by bringing in prepared food, cooking on the day as well as styling”.
It's a delightful, professionally presented book. You can look at a couple of sample pages, cleverly shown on their website using the free service Issuu
Like many subscribers, Adam Liddiard, Director of Community Relations at Woodleigh School, Victoria has a diverse role. It covers PR, Marketing, Publications, Social Media, Events, Alumni Relations, Media Relations, Parent Groups and everything else in-between. He’s agreed for us to publish his story.
I travelled with a group of students to a Junior Round Square Conference at Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School in Western Australia. It was a great experience for the students and certainly great professional development for me. What struck me however was the shock with which I was greeted when I answered the following (oft asked) question… "So what do you teach?"
"I teach everyone how good our school is."
I would rattle off a list of duties I have, explain a bit about the school, talk about the students, and if any were around at that moment – point them out. For the most part, the responses went like this. "The people that do that at our school wouldn't know the students or come on camp/conference/etc…"
Why is that? Surely as storytellers, we ought to take these opportunities when they are offered to us. More information about what happens at your school is always a good thing – and if something like Round Square is one of your school's 'differences' then you should talk to the coordinator of that program and get involved. Likewise with classroom visits, sports coaching, whatever your passion or interest really!
It is important in the promotion of your school that you are upfront about some of the key beliefs and differences of your school.
We heard of a new parent at an Australian school being shocked, even offended, when staff openly prayed at an Information Night a few weeks after their child commenced. Some parents are willing for their children to ‘endure’ some religious instruction in exchange for a perceived ‘better’ private school education. However, what concerned us about this scenario, was that they had gone through the whole enrolment process and obviously still did not know what to expect. If in interviews, tours, or the website they had seen, read or experienced anything overtly ‘religious’, then this may have influenced their decision to enrol. Instead, they were left with the shock of an approach that was evidently not clear from the start of the enrolment process.
An article ‘School Choice is not just keeping the faith’ included this quote, ''It's one of the great paradoxes of Australian education,'' says Dr Helen Proctor, from the University of Sydney. ''We're one of the least-religious nations in the world, yet we have this large and increasing attendance of children in religious schools.''
With this trend it is all the more important that the enrolment process sets clear expectations for families. There should be few shocks – unless it is ‘wow, this is better than I thought.’
When a school promotes a particular enrolment policy, but families know that another is practiced, it can erode confidence. If a school promotes a closed policy for example (that is, only families of a particular belief / diet / worldview can attend) but in practice don’t enforce it then word of mouth promotion is confused. If families enrol based on one expectation, and experience another, any frustration they feel is justified. Knowing who your target market is, and why your current families enrolled, makes school marketing clearer.
Steven Howard spoke at the School Marketing Aforia 2011 on customer service. He explained that we, the school, set customer expectations. See the video > Seven C's of Customer Service
Early bird registrations for this year’s two day > School Marketing Aforia in Sydney closes at the end of May.
Brisbane Girls Grammar School have created a video using high definition Go Pro’s. The distinctive rounded video image gives a ‘bird’s eye’ view of school activities and facilities without words. Very creative.
When I started working as a marketing consultant for Covenant Christian School in Sydney the first project they wanted was a new website. They had already chosen a web designer for me to work with. His name was Mark Barrett, owner of CIMarketing.
While we can’t enter our School Marketing Awards you can. Has your school launched a new look to your website, or prospectus, in 2012 or 2013? Entries close 24 June 2013. Download an entry form > School Marketing Awards 2013
On the Northern Beaches of Sydney where I live is an area called The Forest. It measures approximately 12 km by 5 km. Roughly a quarter of this would be bushland. In this relatively small area are 29 schools. Many of the schools are independent. Some are obvious competitors and others cater for a specific niche of the market.
One Primary School of approximately 200 students has consistently out performed most schools in the National Testing NAPLAN. This has generated a great deal of media interest. Students at the John Colet Primary School learn the Indian language Sanskrit, perform Mozart, meditate and recite Shakespeare.
The school has four shorter promotional videos. This is something schools should consider. Curious prospective parents may initially watch one of the 2 to 3 minute videos. If they like what they see they may then be willing to watch another, or longer video. The school’s fourth video is the longest at over 8 minutes. Trying to tell your whole school story in a 3 minute video is very difficult. Consider how you can offer a condensed version of what you really think a prospective parent should know. One standout comment for me from these videos was by a student. She had learnt courage – the ability to own up to something rather than cowering away from it.
The school’s promotional video were produced by UK based SchoolFilms. They include interviews with a teacher, Principal, former student and a Psychologist. You can see all four videos below. Some of the videos reuse the same footage to make the most of the production.
My mother spent most of her teaching career in schools for students with cerebral palsy or developmental disability. I was often inspired by what her students could do. Many of her students would now have been included in general schools, which has both advantages and disadvantages.
I was therefore fascinated when Jennifer Younge, Director of Communications and Marketing at The Kildonan School in New York USA subscribed to the newsletter. I explored her website and was impressed. The Kildonan School empowers students with dyslexia and language-based learning differences. Offering education to grades 2 - 12 they combine day and boarding options. The school promotes itself under the slogan "Learn to love school again." Many students with Dyslexia dislike school because it doesn't cater to them and their intelligence is not recognised. Interestingly a "full 100% of our seniors are accepted to college." The dyslexic brain is wired in such a way that the usual pathways for reading and writing language function differently. Those differences, however, bring with them advantages in understanding visual-spatial relationships, the ability to make connections among disparate ideas, to see the “big picture,” and to work with a diverse array of people."
One of the most powerful components of Kildonan's promotional brochure are the quotations. Here are three which powerfully reinforce their slogan.
“I can tell you that Kildonan changed my son’s life: no question. He came home from his ﬁrst day of school with a smile on his face that I hadn’t seen in years.” Mother of John, Grade 4
"I learned the real meaning of dyslexia, that I can be independent and that I can feel normal. I also found out who I really am – no other school teaches all that." Ana, Grade 8, Mexico City, Mexico
Dr. Robert Lane, Academic Dean “When students ﬁrst come to Kildonan, you can almost hear their sighs of relief. Finally, they’re part of a school that understands them, where they share the same type of frustration and experiences with other students. Where they feel they are not alone.”
How much can you say in a 69 seconds without words – written or spoken? The one minute highlights video by Knox Grammar School in Sydney covers academics, sports, friendship, culture, their amazing facilities and more. Embedding large screens of the videos into their website adds to their dramatic cinema style impact.
If you have more than a minute to spare then explore their series of > six videos. This again demonstrates to me how much more powerful video is than text and photos.
In response to last week’s newsletter about meditation, Dave Orchard, Head of Physical Education & Information Technology at Canbury School in United Kingdom told us about another school promoting meditation. St James Schools has a much more rigorous approach to meditation. There has been a lot written about them - but this video from a pupil's point of view might be worth sharing with the Network”> Meditation at St James Schools
We find it interesting that some schools, with what many would label 'unusual' practices, don’t mention them in promotional material. Others celebrate them. In my experience schools embracing, and promoting, their willingness to do things differently attract their target market families. In contrast, schools not mentioning what actually happens in school life often attract families who are surprised and dissatisfied after enrolment.
Last year I attended a Catholic Education conference in Townsville. It was wonderful to visit schools, hear from speakers, and discuss the opportunities and challenges of education.
There were many things that impressed me, but one stands out in my memory. It was meditation for students. The Catholic schools in the area have implemented a daily meditation time for all students. For several minutes each day students are not bombarded with stimulus. Instead they stop, focus, are silent and meditate.
The Catholic Education Position Statement says...
“Western culture invites excitement, not silence; activity, not stillness. Students are therefore often over stimulated and restless. It is vital that education responds to such social challenges by presenting and teaching an alternative way of being.”
Google alerts directs us to a vast number of online articles about education marketing. Not all of them are positive! Yet we can learn from them. As School Marketers we need to understand how we are perceived, and why.Jim Hightower wrote an article titled “Why does a university need a chief marketing officer?” He shares stories where he believes universities have lost their purpose, history and vision by becoming too much like corporations.
“Frothy attempts to ‘refresh the university’s identity’ have sparked a backlash. Not only are the logos and slogans being protested, but so is the very idea of well-regarded academic centers spending scarce funds on branding campaigns. After all, educational achievement is not a product of marketers, but of ... well, of educators. A school with plenty of good teachers will sell itself. So here’s a marketing concept: Fire the Chief Marketing Officer, and hire a couple more teachers.”
Deidré Proxenos, Director of Marketing and Foundation at Dainfern College, South Africa shared with me this story.
“I was at an expo this weekend when an existing family came past. They had just lost their grandfather and had the funeral this past week. They said the principal and two teachers (of their two children) were just so incredibly caring in dealing with the situation. The principal visited the family. The teachers each bought the children a fluffy bunny to keep close on the loss of grandpa - the children are aged 6 and 8. It was truly heartwarming to hear first hand how impressed the parents were. This cannot be taught - but is a genuine show of affection from our teachers - a proud moment for us.”
Bloxham School in Oxfordshire, England with 420 students has fully embraced the technological age. As well as Twitter, Facebook, and a digital newsletter they have created their own BloxTube channel to showcase videos.
This week I visited three schools for the first time. It was fascinating. I love the variety, the challenges, the similarities and the unique perspectives each school has in serving their community.
A family accepts a position in your school, they even pay an enrolment bond… and then they don’t show up at the start of the year. What happened?
Depending on the school this ‘gap’ between acceptance and starting can be weeks, months or even years. During this time other schools can be active in engaging with your families and win them over. A member of our School Marketing Network shared “We often get families signing up at several schools only to play each one off against the other for discounts. It is the same with scholarships. We offer them to the top candidates but then they go around bargaining for greater discounts at other schools.”
When parents are not convinced your school offers something radically different to another they are willing to shop around. This is an increasing trend in society. When items become a commodity they often descend to competing on price. Education for many has become a commodity.
Here are some ideas for strengthening relationships with families during the gap.
• Add them to the school newsletter distribution
• Invite them to events
• Introduce them to other students and families. Relationships help.
• Encourage them to follow, or like, your social media feeds
• Post them a Year Book
• Telephone them. Phone calls are harder to ignore than emails, or letters, and remind families they are dealing with people – not an institution. It can also give you an opportunity to discover any hesitancy or competition earlier on.
• Advise parents of text book sales
• Ask them to a school uniform fitting (or even offer a free initial uniform)
Once a family starts at a school it is a much bigger decision to leave it. Let’s not take for granted our families in the ‘gap.’
This video clip by the Australian Human Rights Commission is fascinating. It tells the story of a school which discriminated against a prospective family. Many years ago Hills Grammar School in Sydney were taken to the Federal Court, based on their treatment of one family. The school’s assumption of what would be required by a student with spina bifida led them to reject the family’s enrolment enquiry.
The Federal Court upheld that the school had discriminated against the family. It was a recognition that the school could not say 'no' to a family on the basis of disability. It was a very public case and for the school would have been an extremely challenging time. The family even declared that the school’s motto of "Strive for Excellence" should become "Strive for Tolerance".
I share this story both as a warning and a good news story. What was at the time a cause of great stress, and very negative media for the school, has eventually been turned into very positive news. Hills Grammar School is now seen as one which leads the way in embracing people with a disability.
This is one of a series of 20 real life videos produced to celebrate 20 years of the > Disability Discrimination Act
I watched a fascinating video by > McCrindle Research on population growth in Australia and internationally. The world population has doubled in the last 50 years. This has obviously impacted on the growth of our schools over the same period.
If you haven’t already read them the > Australian Bureau of Statistics report, Schools Australia 2011 is worth exploring. It helps you understand both the national and regional changes in the number of schools. From the year 2000 to 2010, 223 government schools closed and an additional 91 non-government schools opened.
World and local trends will fluctuate. Demographics change. Enrollments change. Ensuring your school stays viable requires you to:
1. be clear about who you are as a school (your vision statement)
2. know who your target audience is (your market) and go all out to serve these families and students
These subjects and more are covered in Module 1 of the > Diploma in School Marketing
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 & Jenny Pierson. Neil is a Storyteller. His stories are designed to encourage, equip and connect over 1,000 school marketers.
Join us. Together we can learn, share ideas and tell the unique story of our school community.