Two months ago I wrote about our new Prime Minister. Now we have another one - I was not surprised (but perhaps a bit embarrassed) when a school leader in Minnesota I was training said that people in the USA were worried about the UK...
But it underlies how things can change quickly - and schools are having to get used to this - whether private or state-run.
What can you do? There's no way to totally future-proof your school, but here are 5 things to be thinking about...
1. Make time for the future - there's nothing wrong with celebrating this years' results or thinking how to improve next term's teaching or the next marketing campaign - but if this is all you do as a school or school marketer you run the risk of being hit by changes you didn't anticipate. Set time aside to think about what you need to succeed over the next 5 or more years - I'd expect great teachers and support staff, supportive parents, and a strong income stream would be part of this for starters!
2. Audit what you are doing now - make sure that you're checking how the world sees and interacts with you on a regular basis, especially in the digital area. Our new Prospective Parent Insight Reports are a great way to check how you appear to that stakeholder group, while you can use surveys and focus groups for others. This process will flag up any major issues affecting your school that could impact recruitment and retention - from the simple (such as not being listed properly on search engines) to the challenging (for example a history of negative media coverage).
3. Sense the environment - think about what changes externally might stop your progress, from the national economy and political direction to new schools opening in your local area. Make sure you've the right contacts and subscriptions to keep an eye on these - something as simple as a Google Alert or a regular look through the local newspaper might highlight something that becomes a major threat such as a new free school opening near you.
4. Focus and Innovate - there's a perception that education doesn't change much, but schools are expected to offer much more than they did a generation ago, and this is putting pressure on all aspects of schools. My advice to survive and thrive is to keep a clear eye on the impact you make on the children you work for, use technology and new ways of working to make everything you do as efficient as possible, and keep listening to see the impact of any change.
5. Invest - I think the best investment is in the people in your school. For example, from a marketing and communications perspective you might invest in your pupils by creating a School Media Team, or in the future of your multi-academy trust or independent school by creating a strong communications team that will build you a strong brand, using training from the likes of ISBL or AMCIS (disclaimer - I've written courses for both of them!).
If you'd like a chance to work through these issues, why not book a place on a School Marketing Workshop from just £150?