Schools that are struggling to fill places are down on revenue. They know they need to spend time and resources on pupil recruitment activity to fill those places and increase income, but feel they are not in a position to devote resources to such activity because revenue is down! This is the chicken and egg of school marketing.

This is often the point at which one brave soul will suggest an advertising spend, a one-off splash, promoting the upcoming Open Day or Scholarship availability perhaps, in an effort to tempt hitherto invisible parents to get in touch or come for a visit.  But, let’s be honest. Advertising has its place as part of a well thought-through marketing strategy, yet a spend of this type, at this stage, is unlikely to change the fortunes of a school. 


We’ve listed five areas to consider that will support getting the basics right for pupil recruitment activity:

  1. Are you clear about your USPs? Your school needs to be well defined, setting it apart from others. Is what it offers clear, compelling and different from the competition? What is your school really known for among families and parents – and does this match what the school believes it is known for? Have you considered conducting research to find out?
  2. Do you talk about your school in a consistent manner? This should include everything from descriptions on the website, to wall displays around your school to the Receptionist answering enquiries from parents. Is the culture of the school understood by everyone internally and externally? And is it genuinely lived and breathed on a day to day basis?
  3. Is your admissions process transparent, welcoming and effective? Are families and children led through each step in the admissions journey and is it made as stress-free as possible for them? Is communication clear, timely and personal?
  4. Implement little touches that will make a difference: what small changes will make a big difference to the perceptions and experience of families and prospective parents? What quick wins can you secure? For example, ensuring every family visit to the school is welcomed with a reserved parking space, a smile, the offer of a drink and a comfortable, uncluttered place to sit while waiting will instantly tell visitors something about the organised culture and welcoming nature of the school. Implementing a series of small, low cost (or no cost) changes can make an impressive impact on perceptions and reputation.
  5. Affordable support: for schools that are anxious about the cost of a full scale marketing and admissions audit or strategic review, at Stickman we offer a couple of services which will suit even the most limited of budgets:
    • 60 min ‘Super Call’with one of our School Marketing Experts. This will give you tips, practical advice and marketing guidance to help you boost pupil numbers and to make real improvements. You’ll leave the call feeling empowered, excited and enlightened about what more can be done to tackle your school’s challenges. £99 +VAT .
    • ‘Sneak Peek’ (mini audit) – we will start to unearth some of your key challenges and give you topline recommendations on how to improve your school’s pupil recruitment activities. By visiting your school, listening to your Senior Leadership Team and examining your marketing material and key admissions processes, we’ll use this, along with our sector experience and best practice knowledge, to give you succinct recommendations and marketing tips that will positively impact your pupil recruitment. From £2,600 + VAT.

So there we are. Five low cost, easy points to consider to start making a difference to your pupil numbers. And the chicken and egg of school marketing? You should no longer be wondering which comes first – it is always the chicken.

So what are you waiting for? Go and start making a difference to those pupil numbers….straight away! 

If your school would like help with your school’s pupil recruitment strategy, or if you’d like to know more about our ‘Sneak Peek’ package or any aspect of our marketing and research services, simply get in touch. We’re always happy to explain how our work helps schools to get results that impact positively on their school recruitment and revenue.


School Marketing & Research Consultant and Chief Cheerleader

The Stickman Consultancy



Stickman Character

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