<![CDATA[Marketing Advice for Schools - News]]>Tue, 21 Mar 2017 20:57:16 +0000Weebly<![CDATA[School funding is in flux - how can marketing help?]]>Mon, 23 Jan 2017 13:41:27 GMThttp://marketingadviceforschools.com/news/school-funding-is-in-flux-how-can-marketing-help
There's no doubt that state school funding is under pressure in England. But if you couple that to uncertainty about future funding and a re-evaluation of the funding to every school, there's the risk of a major crisis.

A survey from the NAHT suggests that 
75% of schools will be in an unsustainable financial position by 2019Schools in YorkshireShropshireManchester and London (and many others!) have responded by asking parents for donations, and a head teacher in Berkshire has resigned in protest.  

We take a look at the issues in turn, consider how state schools schools can use marketing to get through the current crisis and lay stable foundations for the future, and then look at the relatively more positive implications for independent schools.

Sources of pressure

1. Existing school funding pressures

The graphs below show that while overall spending on education has remained similar since 2009, there has been a fall when measured against GDP. While school funding has been relatively well protected compared to other areas of the public sector, there have been significant impacts for many. John Tomsett of Huntingdon School outlined some of the issues in this article in the TES - mainly due to cuts in discretionary funding and pay increases. 
Picture
Education spending in absolute terms in the UK
Picture
Education spending as proportion of GDP in the UK
2. Future funding

The graphs above take into account current spending proposals for schools as far as 2020. Again, while the actual numbers show an increase in cash, the National Audit Office has said that this will be an effective 8% reduction in real-term spending with schools needing to cut £3 billion in three year. 

3. The new national funding formula

Unveiled in December after many years debate, the new funding formula aims to redistribute money to areas that historically received less (such as Derby, York or more rural areas) from areas such as London which received more. 10,740 schools will get more money, while 9,128 will lose out and no schools will lose more than 3% of income overall, with a maximum cut of 1.5% per year.


 Marketing solutions - w
hat can schools do?

1. Find the right people to ask

Schools should be actively looking for income sources that they can access. As seen above, grammar schools have started targeting well-off communities of parents (and should also in many cases be looking to do the same with former students!). Other schools might be better off working with local politicians to ensure they get access to all available funding for their school and area - or working with local businesses or faith groups. Our article on 
stakeholder analysis will help you find out who matters most. 

2. Show why you need extra money - and what you will do with it

If your school is going to ask stakeholders for help, it needs to be clear what the money is for and when and how you will spend it - don't just make a general appeal. Talk about specific building or teaching issues that will affect individual stakeholderS or people they know - this also allows you to create focused displays and brochures to engage people. 


3. Don't be embarrassed to ask, but make sure you're not embarrassed by how you ask

As many schools are asking for money, your school is unlikely to be the only one nearby doing so. However, it's vital that you make sure that you don't apply pressure to parents (for example by implying that contributing isn't voluntary or that it's part of an admission process). And be careful about putting pressure on teachers or pupils to raise money from stakeholders such as parents - it's best that queries and the actual handing over of money is kept away from their day-to-day relationships.

4. Feedback how the money is being spent

Make sure to thank those who have helped you - and show them how valuable their contribution has been. It's worth taking time to do this properly and highlighting what you've done across all your communication channels - not least because this coverage itself might generate some additional income or support.

5. Get involved in wider funding campaigns

However successful your local fundraising has been, there's also a clear case for valuing and supporting education across a fragmented system. Here's the NAHT's campaign - others are available!


And what does this mean for independent schools?

Independent schools have typically done very well when a growing economy combines with cuts to the state system. There is a marketing challenge for schools in that private schools don't want to be seen to be attacking state schools (and invite attacks like this one from Michael Gove), but independents' emphasis on smaller schools, individual attention and extra-curricular activities will obviously resonate more if state schools cannot match this. 

​The graph below, from the Independent Schools Council, shows that schools in more affluent areas are already seeing consistent growth - those in the North should take this opportunity to join them!
]]>
<![CDATA[5 school marketing predictions for 2017 (and our 2016 social media predictions reviewed!)]]>Mon, 19 Dec 2016 12:32:16 GMThttp://marketingadviceforschools.com/news/5-school-marketing-predictions-for-2017-and-our-2016-social-media-predictions-reviewed
Picture
Our 2017 predictions:
1. The school market will remain in flux 

'You ain't seen nothing yet' - Bachman Turner Overdrive 

It might seem as if 2016 was turbulent enough for schools. And yet, in many ways it was just the calm before the storm. 2017 will probably see the start of English grammar school expansion. It will see a revitalised New Schools Network with the extrovert Toby Young pushing the Government to maximise the Free Schools programme. Schools will be pushed into larger trusts for financial reasons (perhaps because the academic arguments are still unclear). There might be a lot of 'free' places in private schools. There will be major teacher shortages. There's a new funding formula for schools - and more and more schools will be looking to parents, former students and their local community to raise money
And of course, schools will have to communicate ongoing curriculum changes - 2017 is the first year to see the 9-1 GCSE grades (in English and Maths) and the first non-modular A-levels. Phew....

2. Schools will respond by increasing their marketing competence. 
It's interesting though to see what is happening in return. The NASBM has made marketing one of its five major skill areas for school Business Managers (see diagram below), councils and trusts are putting more emphasis on communication, and there are many more marketing jobs being advertised by schools and trusts. Preliminary results from our 2016 School Marketing Survey show that strategy is the development area within marketing that schools are most concerned about for 2017.
Picture
3. Schools will start automating their marketing content
Drilling down into more tactical areas of marketing, it's clear that most schools will be managing communications and marketing on tight budgets, as well as trying to support busy front line heads and teachers. One solution is to automate a lot of marketing communcations. Hopefully schools will become better at segmenting key stakeholders and keeping them up to date with news that is relevant to them - and at the same time sharing stories more easily and widely. We had a look at some tools to help with this earlier in the year - and we'll be sharing more ideas in 2017. 

4. Schools will set up recruitment portals and use case studies to cope with the #teacherrecruitmentcrisis

Our 2016 School Recruitment Survey showed that schools were taking initial steps to help them recruit and retain the best teachers. But only 1 in 5 or less were showcasing their current staff or creating dedicated website pages to help attract new staff. In 2017 (even more than 2016) it won't be enough to just announce you've got a job - and schools that start first will ensure that jobseekers are engaged enough to make it to interviews. 

5. Schools will use new tools to create closer communities
Many schools have chosen Facebook or Twitter to create communities that engage their stakeholders (parents, governors, the local community etc). However, there are a number of issues with them - for example there are times when you just want to talk to one group (for example when you want to let parents know of an outbreak of nits, or to tell 14 parents about a football match). New 'walled communities' such as SchoolCal might be the answer, as well as providing new ways of gaining feedback - and cutting down the paper and photocopying bills!

And here’s an update on our 2016 social media predictions:

1. 
Monitoring social media will become a higher priority for schools
This has been an major issue in 2016 - perhaps culminating with the Government directive in September that ‘many children have unlimited and unrestricted access to the internet via 3G and 4G in particular and the school and college should carefully consider how this is managed on their premises’  (Keeping Children Safe in Education, September 2016, pp62-63.). We're looking with interest to see what our 2016 School Marketing Survey says about the actions of individual schools. 

2. Schools will use social media to support staff recruitment

Our 2016 School Recruitment Survey showed 45% of schools now using social media for recruitment - below are some examples  from the last few days. If you're not using your social media channels in this way, please start (it's free!).
Picture
Schools sharing jobs on social media for free
3. Live real-time video will make a real mark. 
This might have been a bit ahead of its time. While video use increased across websites and social media, there wasn't a lot of evidence of live video streaming by schools in 2016. That said, Facebook is making a big push around its Facebook Live product and Twitter has just fully integrated Periscope into Twitter. So, why not give it a go in 2017 and engage stakeholders in your school events?
4. Schools will use social media to advertise. 
Again, there have been some schools that have been advertising on social media - but it's been a much slower process than using social media without advertising. We'll keep looking for them in 2017 though! 

]]>
<![CDATA[What would 10,000 'Free' places at private schools mean for your school?]]>Sat, 10 Dec 2016 14:37:48 GMThttp://marketingadviceforschools.com/news/what-would-10000-free-places-at-private-schools-mean-for-your-school
The ongoing debate about the future of private schools took an interesting twist last week with an offer from the Independent Schools Council (ISC) to offer 10,000 places to 'low-income' students in exchange for maintaining their charitable status.

​The ISC claims it would cost the Government the £55 million per year they would already spend on educating those students, and the schools £80 million per year - although this would only be true in schools where new students displaced existing fee-paying ones (otherwise only marginal costs would be occurred).
English education has had previous programmes like this before - the Assisted Places Scheme ran from 1980-1997 and around 80,000 students took part, while Direct Grant Grammar Schools also mixed private pupils and government subsidies from 1945-1976.

The impact of the proposed scheme would impact across the school market. It might reduce the need for new state schools in some areas; it would certainly help some beleaguered private schools outside the South-East who have been seeing numbers fall for many years and have places free (the graph below shows the ISC's own figures on student numbers in independent schools). It would could draw students away from nearby state schools - and given that many would be selected, these could be the most able students available. 
Picture
The Government 'welcomed' the idea - we will have to wait unti it responds to the wider 'Schools that Work for Everyone' consultation (closing 12th December) to see if the idea will take off . 
]]>
<![CDATA[Secondary school staff shortages are much more likely than primary ones - and they're going to get worse...]]>Sun, 20 Nov 2016 15:59:10 GMThttp://marketingadviceforschools.com/news/secondary-school-staff-shortages-are-much-more-likely-than-primary-ones-and-theyre-coming-from-2017
Picture
Source: School Census, School Level Annual School Census and Pupil Referral Unit Census (actuals); DfE Pupil Projection Model - 2016 model
“Everywhere I go, headteachers – particularly secondary heads − tell me how difficult they are finding it to appoint high-calibre teachers.” Sir Michael Wilshaw, 1 December 2016
"We know there are some local challenges, the truth is despite rising pupil numbers and the competitive jobs market a stronger economy has created, more people are entering the teaching profession than leaving it, there are 13,100 more teachers today than when we came to office and the ratio of teachers to pupils is stable with more teachers also choosing to come back to the classroom." Nick Gibb, 10 June 2016
It goes without saying that there's a shortage of teachers in England. But to date, the Government has been able to point to evidence that it's not really biting.

But the graph above (produced from Government data) shows exactly when and where the shortage is really going to bite.

The problem isn't the blue line. The number of primary students has already reached 4.50 million. It will rise by a projected 4% in the next 4 years - and then level off for the next 6 years. Recruiting primary school teachers is a challenge, but has not been an overwhelming one. Graduates in any discipline can retrain as primary teachers and the removal of funding for teaching assistants will have increased the numbers moving into teaching. Figures from the National College for Teaching and Leadership show primary training for the 2016-7 year was full in September. 

The problem is the red line. There are a relatively lower number of students in secondary schools, but the number is set to rise 10% from 2016-2020 (up to 3.04 million), then by a further 10% between 2020 and 2025 (up to 3.33 million). And the solutions that worked for primary aren't going to cut it in secondary.

​Graduates can try to teach across subjects but the areas with greatest shortages in 2016-7 (Maths, Physics, Technology, Classics) aren't going to be easily filled with PE and History teachers. Secondary teaching assistants tend to be generalists, there are fewer of them, and there's no simple route to turn them into specialist teachers. And the idea of moving secondary teachers around the country to fill local needs, the National Teaching Service, has just been embarrasingly shelved.

There's therefore a clear challenge to secondary schools for the next few years. Are you going to wait for the Government to try to fix the problem? Or are you going to take steps to recruit and retain your own against the competition from well-organised multi-academy trusts and possibly new grammar schools?

If it's the latter,
please check out our recruitment advice page!

PS - thanks to the NFER's Karen Wiespeiser and the National Education Trust's Simon Knight for drawing my attention to the fact that the data used above shows the increase in special school numbers in the next few years is even steeper. If you need help recruiting there, please check out our recent guest post from Emily Marbaix of Axcis Educational. 
]]>
<![CDATA[What are schools doing to help themselves recruit?]]>Sun, 18 Sep 2016 20:20:50 GMThttp://marketingadviceforschools.com/news/what-are-schools-doing-to-help-themselves-recruitWe've been following the 'teacher recruitment crisis' with concern for a few years now, as schools find it harder and harder to find good (and recently, any) teachers.

Our snapshot survey below suggests some reasons why schools are finding it hard to recruit - many are slugging it out with other schools using expensive national media adverts and inflexible recruitment methods while failing to plan properly ahead. 

Schools that are developing strong employer brands, and academy trusts that are taking on industry-standard recruitment methods, are going to be the winners in this battle - for further advice on all aspects of recruitment please click here.


]]>
<![CDATA[77 More Free Schools - How will they affect your school?]]>Sun, 18 Sep 2016 14:30:14 GMThttp://marketingadviceforschools.com/news/77-more-free-schools-how-will-they-affect-your-school
Picture
Free Schools announced in September 2016 by local authority

In keeping with recent tradition, a new tranche of free schools in England is approved just after the start of the school year. Last year there were only 18 announced, but this year there are a whopping 77 (to add to 31 announced earlier in the year), after a year of clear Conservative Government. 

Schools Week has printed the full list of new free schools here, while our Wordle above is an attempt to show the range of local authorities affected. They both show a definite bias towards East Anglia (with 15 free schools in just 4 authorities) and London (24 free schools across 15), while the Yorkshire and Humber region only has 4 new free schools (and 3 of those in Bradford!). You can also click here to download the Government's latest spreadsheet showing all free schools - open and in the 'pipeline'. 

In terms of who is opening the schools, the big winner is the Reach2 trust, which is taking on an amazing 21 more schools and looks set to become the largest MAT as as a result (see our league table from March here).

Coupled with the announcements of possible grammar school expansion, there's no surprise that heads, governors and senior leaders in English schools we're talking to are putting marketing - and in particular competitive research and clear differentiation - to the top of their already crowded to-do lists. 

If your school wants to develop skills in these areas, please check our our imminent online Schools Communication Course!

]]>
<![CDATA[EXAM Celebrations Review 2016]]>Thu, 18 Aug 2016 19:40:11 GMThttp://marketingadviceforschools.com/news/a-level-celebrations-review-2016Our Twitter feed Good News from Schools now follows over 3,000 schools. That means we see both the new and the traditional ways schools are celebrating GCSE and A-level results online. Here are the top 20 from 2016 - if you'd like to compare them to last year, click here.

New ideas this year included...

1. Props:

Significant preparation was put in before the event in some schools - T-shirts, stars, emojis, balloons, a giant envelope and cakes for starters...
2. ...the Olympics....

Reflecting the success of Usain Bolt!
3. ...teachers (especially heads) joining in jumping...

...or not in the case of Princethorpe College! (Thanks to Josie Gurney-Read of the Telegraph for inciting a number of these!)

4. ...more video than last year (this was the best)...
5. ...and some great post-celebrations messaging (remember that you can use celebrations for a long time afterwards)....
Of course, there was still a lot of student jumping... here are some of the best!
]]>
<![CDATA[What would grammar school expansion mean for your school?]]>Sat, 13 Aug 2016 21:26:22 GMThttp://marketingadviceforschools.com/news/what-would-grammar-school-expansion-mean-for-your-school
Since Teresa May (a former grammar school pupil herself) took over as Prime Minister on 13th July the idea of increasing the number of grammar schools in England has been widely discussed. 

At first it seemed an unlikely idea - while opinion polls show the policy would be popular, bringing back grammar schools across the country would be a further imposition when significant change is already taking place. Teachers and educational commentators from across the 'progressive vs traditional' spectrum have lined up to oppose selection at 11, many pointing out that grammar schools also mean non-grammar schools for the majority - the 'secondary modern' problem best shown in the excellent graph from the Financial Times reproduced below. Recruitment expert John Howson also pointed out the potential negative consequences for the ongoing teacher recruitment crisis in the TES.
Picture
How grammar schools leave a tail of underachievement (from http://blogs.ft.com/ftdata/2013/01/28/grammar-school-myths/)
However a recent article in the Telegraph (Government 'to introduce 20 grammar schools in working class areas', 12th August 2016) perhaps gives us a better idea as to what might really happen. What if free schools were allowed to select (or partially select as Toby Young has proposed) and existing grammar schools allowed to expand, but only in selected areas - and what if this happened alongside greater support for the expansion of University Technical Colleges (UTCs), as proposed in the recent 'Educational Excellence Everywhere' white paper? And what if this was done as part of a wider Education Bill that didn't allow for a specific 'grammar school rebellion'?

What you would find is new impetus for a slowing free schools programme, the missing 'secondary technical school' layer missing from the 1944 Education Act being put in place, and crucially the non-grammar intake being diluted among a wide number of schools who would still have a wide range of ability. Results from the new grammar schools would reflect their high level of intake and perhaps match those of the 16+ selective free school the London Academy of Excellence, while the government could point to increased investment in STEM education to meet industry needs. And there would be no formal secondary modern schools needed. 

What does this mean for existing schools ? Here are three key points for school leaders and marketers to ponder...

1. You need to celebrate comprehensives to oppose grammar schools. As Ed Dorrell points out in this TES editorial, grammar schools have a strong emotional pull. If you want to oppose grammar schools in your area or nationally, it's vital to show a positive emotional impact for comprehensive education as well as using data like that from the FT above. And perhaps this is also a wake-up call for the warring factions in ongoing educational debates - if you agree that grammar schools are a bad thing, spend more time praising different flavours of comprehensive education and sharing good news rather than criticising those who use different techniques!

2. You need to improve how you monitor your area for changes - and get ready to respond. This has always been important, but now as well as monitoring existing competition, free schools, UTCs and so on you also need to listen out for new grammar schools - or ones from neighbouring counties expanding into your area! Our vodcast below gives you a process for doing this.

3. You can't take recruitment or retention of staff or students for granted. Successful schools may think that over-subscription in one year will safeguard them for the future, and that they are the 'best' local school for teachers. But what if a free grammar school opened up close to your school - would you be sure to fill all your places or retain teachers who might be attracted by teaching more able students? Equally, if you have a successful Sixth Form, what if a school like the London Academy of Excellence opened in your neighbourhood? The best way to insulate yourself against these changes is to continually communicate your strengths to your local community. And if a grammar school (or a UTC or similar) opens nearby, a strong reputation for developing all students and all teachers will be your best defence.
]]>
<![CDATA[Another 31 Free Schools announced!]]>Wed, 13 Jul 2016 13:06:46 GMThttp://marketingadviceforschools.com/news/another-31-free-schools-announcedIt might have seemed that with all the changes going on in UK politics that there wouldn't be time for more changes in schools. But one of David Cameron's last acts as Prime Minister was to announce another 31 free schools to open in England. For full details, here's Schools Week's list.

For those who aren't sure of new Prime Minister Theresa May's views on school changes, here's an interesting article from The Guardian earlier in the year in which she proposed letting police and crime commissioners set up their own free schools. We'll update the blog once we know any more details!

]]>
<![CDATA[People will always misunderstand - what matters is what we do next]]>Sat, 02 Apr 2016 11:34:02 GMThttp://marketingadviceforschools.com/news/people-will-always-misunderstand-what-matters-is-what-we-do-next
Picture
As a marketer turned teacher pretty much all of my working life has involved managing perception and communication problems. When I worked for a recruitment agency I hated the branches that kept ignoring our expensive rebranding and using the wrong logos and colour paper. As a teacher I was frustrated by a student who told last term me that I definitely said a bat is a bird because I said it flies (...and missed the next sentence when I said that not everything that flies is a bird).

I therefore have a lot of sympathy in principle with those who are frustrated when people don't pass on the messages that you want them to. Recently this includes a lot of people who don't always get a lot of sympathy from teachers including...

1. Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, who told the NASUWT conference that 'of the last 20 press releases that the union had issued, only three said something positive'.


2. Sean Harford, National Director of Education at OFSTED who has argued that teachers and others are 'promulgating mythic perceptions' about his organisation that lead to excess workload
3. Schools Minister Nick Gibb who complained of 'wilful misunderstanding' of the Government's advice on exclamation marks in this letter to the TES

I know it's not good form to be supporting the Government and OFSTED when blogging, but while I have to say that I understand their frustration, they need to see these as opportunities to change and shape future policies and communications.

To put it bluntly if people are worried enough about perceived threats from OFSTED to share their need to mark in three colours, it's evidence that OFSTED isn't doing enough to tell schools to 'just stop it!'; if unions can't think of any good things to say about teaching, you need to give them more to say that is good (or if you don't want to engage, don't complain); and if teachers believe the Government wants 1930s-style grammar perhaps this is because other changes give this impression?

So what should any organisation do when faced with communications problems? Here are a few suggestions, whether you're the Government - or a school trying to understand why you don't always get clear support from parents or students: 

1. Encourage the right sort of feedback: Set up regular focus groups and surveys aimed at finding what people really think of you. As I've said before, this research is not about getting positive feedback or pushing your solutions. 

2. Use social media to interact and gain understanding: Social media is an amazing tool for senior people to connect directly with those on the frontline. But don't see this as an opportunity to just push your messages - make sure to listen and probe for true understanding behind misconceptions. 

3. Take feedback seriously: Don't assume that individual misconceptions are isolated. One person talking about a myth usually means hundreds of people have the same idea. I tell my classes that I will answer all questions because however daft they may seem my experience is that there are always others in the class who would like to ask the same ones but aren't as confident.

4. Feed changes you make directly, clearly and often to your stakeholders. It's a massive job, changing the way people think, which is why commercial organisations spend so much on advertising in so many different ways. It's easy to think that putting up changes on a website or sending a few Tweets should change minds - but you might need 5 or 10 touchpoints through meetings, newsletters, emails and more to really explain what and why you are doing. 

5. Keep checking understanding over time. As a teacher I check understanding in many ways each lesson. We need to keep asking questions of adults as well, and making communication a virtuous cycle that allows us to anticipate and start solving the next problem as soon as possible. 
]]>