But now is when you move from mass marketing - placing adverts, running Open Events, writing prospectuses - to relationship marketing. Your goal for the next few months is not just to ensure that in September there are enough students to keep the school going, but that you have developed the key relationships that will lead to excited and engaged students and parents who will develop a long term commitment to the school.
Here are some ways to do this (updated from an article we ran in 2013!)...
1. Ask parents what they are interested in. When you send out acceptance letters, ask parents what their interests are and how and what they'd like to hear from the school. Also encourage them to follow your school on social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
2. Give them people to talk to. Make sure that your initial information contains details of people who can answer questions as they arise. This should of course start with the person responsible for admissions at the school, but I'd also recommend also giving a PTA contact (you could have local representatives), the teacher who is responsible for the year group and the SENCO (for non-UK readers SENCO = Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator).
3. Create a dedicated 'new student' section on your website. This could include practical information (uniform, key dates, policies, transport information etc), news (and a blog?) from current students, a countdown clock and even a moderated forum for parents and students to ask questions of current students and parents.
4. Send regular news updates. Parents and students want to know what is happening in the school. You can create a specific newsletter for them, send them your current school newsletter or select and email a list of new stories from your website perhaps on a monthly basis.
5. Include them in existing events. If you have musical, sporting, academic, religious or dramatic events invite parents and students who have shown an interest in these areas. You could also consider a special performance or session in an existing event such as an art exhibition for new parents.
6. Hold dedicated events. Many schools have an induction day during the summer term for new students. If you do this already, consider offering something for the parents as well as the students - many parents will appreciate the opportunity to meet each other as well as taking the chance to find out more about the school.
7. Act on any feedback. Make sure that the school team dealing with new students meets regularly and answers queries and passes on concerns. Make sure that you are seen to be taking a personal interest in every student - this is the number one concern of many parents.
8. Finally, don't lose the goodwill this process develops - read this article to see how you can take it further on the first day of the school year!
Please give your suggestions below - or share what your school has done!