Without looking, we at Stickman would wager that your school’s prospectus is packed to the rafters with pictures of pupils: smiling, playing sport, looking studious, climbing trees… all wonderful images of your school in action. We are less confident however, of how else your pupils – the reason your school exists – are represented across your marketing landscape.
We think you might be missing a trick.
Pupils give prospective families a greater understanding, a more 360 degree view if you like, of girls and boys flourishing at your school and why they do so. Hearing pupils’ perspectives about what life is like at your school and what they love about it, is pretty powerful for parents. There are plenty of opportunities – in addition to your school prospectus – for adding pupils to your marketing mix. Below are a few ideas to consider:
- Website and video
A great place to scatter pupil quotes and pupil images. Ensure they appear on relevant pages – everything from admissions pages and subject pages to co-curricular. Video pupils (with permission) talking about what they like most about their school, what the teachers are like, or even more trivial questions such as their favourite school lunch! (Top tip: don’t be tempted to make up your own answers or polish their comments too much…authenticity is best!) Then, place these ‘mini clips’ on pertinent pages on the website.
Another idea to consider, is to have pupil-written features on key pages of your website. For example, on your Key Stage 2 page, feature a paragraph on a Year 5 or 6 pupil talking about the highlights of their day or week. Support the content with some pictures of relevant classwork. This will give parents (prospective and existing), a great insight into what pupils are doing in school, and how they feel about it. Update it every half term or so to keep it fresh.
- School tours and visits
Using pupils as tour guides is of course the most common way of ensuring prospective families encounter pupils. Put measures in place to optimise the impact of this. For example, give pupils a thorough briefing on the highlights of the school and encourage them to chat to parents about what they enjoy most about life at their school. Extend this further, by nominating Pupil Ambassadors from each year group to talk to visitors about what they’re learning about in that particular lesson.
Generally, ensure that all pupils ‘shine’ by cultivating a culture where they smile and address visitors to the school with a “Good Morning” or “Good Afternoon” as they pass them in the school corridors.
- Social media
As with the website, use your school’s social media channels as a shop window into the pupil experience. Social media is another outlet for video clips of pupils commenting on their everyday experiences or marvelling at the extraordinary opportunities they have at your school.
In senior schools, older pupils might be trusted to do a ‘takeover’ of one of the school’s social media accounts for the day (bear in mind that children must be 13 to use Twitter, Facebook and other social media accounts). This one definitely needs clear guidelines for the pupils and a dollop of trust! If managed well however, this can be a powerful indicator of the mature, responsible and creative pupils that your school creates.
- Pupil Power
If your school does not already have one, consider creating a School Council drawn from across the school to put their view forward on a number of issues or to be your ear in the classroom / playground / common room. Setting time aside for these groups to talk to (and be listened to by) teachers and senior staff, demonstrates that their voice matters. Make sure everyone – including prospective families – know that these groups exist and have examples to hand of where their input has made a difference to school life.
An example of this is where a school’s Upper Sixth (Year 13) cohort felt that their Sixth Form Centre could do with a new lease of life. A group was formed to present their ideas to the Head, and the school agreed to create and support a fundraising campaign, spearheaded by the pupils. After eight months of fundraising and a summer holiday of refurbishment, the transformed Sixth Form Centre was re-opened by the Sixth Formers. Over a hundred small plaques now decorate the entrance, recording everyone who contributed to the campaign. They serve as a visual reminder of the story that every visiting family is now told when they are shown the Centre, and are a legacy left by those enterprising and determined pupils.
So, next time you’re reviewing your marketing and wondering how to increase impact…consider the solution that’s under your nose… those who have the potential to tell the most powerful story of all. Your pupils.
If you’re a school in need of help with any aspect of marketing or communications, simply get in touch! We’re more than happy to explain how our work helps schools to get results that impact positively on their school revenue.
Finally, if you enjoyed this post, we’d be very grateful if you’d help spread the message by emailing it to your contacts or sharing on social media.
Chief Cheerleader at Stickman