What is going to get better about your school?

What is going to get better about your school?
13 May 2022

I'm singing it now, things can only get better
Only get better
If we see it through
That means me and I mean you too
('Things can only get better; D-Ream - the Labour Party election song 1997)

Schools are getting much better at saying what makes them a good school at the moment - focusing on the great things they do, the external links they have, and the facilities and people who work in them.

But in my experience they're not so good at articulating what is going to make them even better in the future - something that's really important when you're asking a parent to send their child to your school for 7 or more years!

Often, this is because it feels like admitting weaknesses - if you can make teaching and learning better, does that mean it's not good at the moment? Or perhaps because the school's development plan is full of technical jargon and aimed at external inspectors rather than the wider community.

But if you're really going to stand out from others and fill your school, being honest about your future journey is really important. How can you make sure your school does this?

1. Do a SWOT ((internal) strengths and weaknesses; (external) opportunities and threats) analysis of your schools. As part of this survey key stakeholders to find out what they see as the most important issues in each area.

2. As well as sharing your strengths and opportunities, develop plans to overcome weaknesses and threats over a reasonable time period. If you have an existing vision, ask yourself how you will practically achieve it from the situation you're currently in. If not, this is a good way of developing one. 

3. Discuss your ideas with stakeholders, see how they respond and ask how they can contribute to these changes. This might be time, financial support, or just sharing it in the wider community. 

4. Agree a plan and make sure that everyone in your school can share these ideas . And make it a key part of your marketing activity through all your channels - adverts, website, open day presentations and so on.

5. As you move forward with these plans gather and share the evidence that you're getting there! 

What areas can you focus on? From my experience working with schools, you might focus on...

  • New facilities, equipment or buildings - the easiest areas to talk about and often the most obvious areas of weakness. 
  • Improvements in teaching and learning - are you changing your curriculum. training or educational technology and what changes is it making? 
  • Engagement outside the classroom - top universities have developed a new term, the 'super-curriculum' to describe activities that take students beyond the curriculum and spark passions. Can you show this? 
  • Workplace issues - if you're recruiting new staff how are you making it easier for them to do their jobs and manage their lives around the challenges of teaching.

Please share examples of how your school is doing this. Or if you'd like help working on an effective communication plan for your school why not book a place on one of our School Marketing Workshops?