Time waits for no one and nothing – not even a pandemic – and it is that time of year again: the primary school admissions cycle is now well underway for entries into Reception in the next academic year.  Alongside the challenges of recent months and with no end in sight, schools still have to focus on gaining a healthy number of applications for next year’s entry to ensure robust school funding. 

With competition ever increasing however, it’s more and more tricky to become the ‘school of choice’ for parents and schools can no longer just rely on factors such as proximity to the school and sibling connections for making your school a serious contender in the affections of families.

The Stickman team exists to make marketing simple but powerful for schools (because complicated is rubbish). We’ve therefore distilled our vast experience and ‘knowhow’ into three ESSENTIAL tips for driving pupil intake in primary schools:

  1. Be clear on your key messages…and promote them! 

We see it all the time…amazing things going on in a school, yet them not communicating these to their school community or wider. Be clear on what these are and hone them down to a core of three. Then ensure that these three messages are embedded…well, everywhere: classrooms and school signage, your website and social media channels, in all staff communications with parents (prospective AND current), advertisements, newsletters and more. Make them inescapable!

  1. Ensure your online presence is tip-top

Many parents’ first port of call, when considering a school for their little one, is to go to a school’s website or social media channels. Ensure therefore that these platforms are regularly updated with relevant information, that any news feeds are dynamic and represent your school well, and that the aforementioned key messages are proudly evidenced and on display.

  1. Max out on the Customer Service – be warm and welcoming at every touchpoint

Although primary schools struggle with the concept of parents and pupils as ‘customers’, it is no bad thing to think of them as such. Providing excellent Customer Service should be a core part of your admissions planning because schools increasingly need to consider what’s going to give them the ‘edge’ over a competitor school (i.e. in the eyes of parents). Aspects such as access to the Head on a school tour, a warm and friendly welcome on the telephone from office staff, or a nice series of prospective parent liaison emails will make a lasting impression and can make the difference between a first choice application and a rejection.

“Small things make a disproportionately large difference in generating warm feelings towards the school”

Plan and implement these simple strategies NOW for exceeding prospective parents’ expectations and building pupil recruitment.

Does your school need more pupils? 

If you think YOUR school needs help with pupil recruitment or if you’d like to know more about any aspect of our school marketing and research services, simply get in touch. We’re always happy to explain how our work helps schools to get results.

We’ve also created an online course aimed specifically at primary schools to help them boost their pupil numbers. Find out more here.

Want to see what work we do? 

And don’t forget to take a look at our Case Studies to read more about how our work benefits schools and education organisations of all shapes and sizes!


School Marketing & Research Consultant and Stickman Chief Cheerleader

The Stickman Consultancy

N.B. This is a revised and updated version of an article first posted in October 2019.


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