23 Feb 2022
School marketers understand parents, don't we? So what do you think is more important to them when choosing a school? 

A) An inclusive ethos or B) good behaviour?
A) Location or B) OFSTED rating? 
A) Qualified teachers or B) good exam results?

Well, in each case, the answer is A. Or at least that's what survey company Parent Ping found when they asked UK parents in October. And the same survey found that when choosing secondary schools, 20 times more parents attended an open day than asked their contacts about it on social media.

There's nothing wrong with being innovative with social media, or focusing on areas such as external ratings and behaviour when we market our schools. But these questions led me to to wonder whether we move too quickly with technology and too slowly with social changes? So I thought I'd take a wider look at what 'parents' look like in the UK in 2020...

My first source was the latest UK Government report on 'Families and households in the UK'. It includes the following findings:
  • The number of lone parent fathers has increased by 22% over the past 20 years and is now close to 500,000
  • The total number of lone parent families with dependent children has fallen by 10% over the last 10 years
  • There are now over 200,000 same-sex families in the UK, a 40% rise since 2015
  • The fastest-growing type of household is 'multi-family' households, often with multiple generations living together

And then I looked at an Ipsos MORI survey commissioned by the English Department of Education in 2019. Buried away on page 42, there's a fascinating graph that shows how parents feel that schools developing character and resilience is more important than qualifications and certificates of achievement.

Each of these sources challenges some of the perceptions we might hold about parents - that they see league table positions and exam results as important or that families are either two parents or a lone female. 

So, one of my New Year's Resolutions is to do more research before taking any marketing action. Do you agree?