Keeping the relationship with families ‘warm’ once they’ve accepted a place at your school is an issue that should be top of your mind…
Picture this. A family has been bowled over by a school’s personal service, its atmosphere and ethos, the fantastic Head, and the warm and welcoming admissions staff. Even better, they have accepted the offer of a place and will be skipping off to the school uniform shop before you can say “new blazer”. Woohoo! At this point, a school would be forgiven for smiling at a job well done and concentrating their efforts on the other families considering the school.
But they shouldn’t breathe too easily … or at least not just yet, as it is not unknown for parents to accept places at more than one school. Additionally, circumstances, education trends and dinner party gossip can change minds over a period of time. Remember that – depending on the entry point – a family can accept an offer of a place anywhere between a few weeks before the intended start date, to a couple of years before, so it’s crucial for schools to keep themselves in a positive light with those families and to maintain engagement.
“…circumstances, education trends and dinner party gossip can change [parent’s] minds over a period of time…so it’s crucial for schools to keep themselves in a positive light with those families.”
6 killer tips about how schools can keep joining families ‘warm’:
1. Get social with parents! Schools could host events such as a ‘New Parents’ coffee morning or drinks evening, before the child joins, to allow parents to meet and get to know each other. A June event for September joiners, for example, will allow parents of younger children to potentially organise play dates or other get-togethers before school starts.
2. Invite families to existing events – music concerts, drama productions, sports days – there will be no shortage of events which ‘offer accepted’ families can attend. They will soon start to feel involved by attending these, and will appreciate being part of the school community.
3. Keep in touch – schools should ensure ‘joining families’ are included in relevant communications that current parents receive, such as the Head’s termly letter. They shouldn’t drown them in items and news that are more frequent (e.g. weekly) however, and that aren’t particularly useful to them. Parents may find this irritating rather than illuminating!
4. Be thoughtful – it is often the little things that can make the biggest impression. A phone call from the Head outlining how excited the school is that little Harry is joining…or even a quick call from someone in the school office simply asking if the family have any further questions or are unsure about anything. Gestures such as this will mean so much to the family. Thoughtful details such as sending a birthday card to the child or a Christmas card to the parents, will be recognised by the family and will create good relations and an overall positive feeling about a school.
5. Invite to taster days – if a school isn’t already doing so as part of the admissions process, invite the prospective pupil in for a taster day. This will give the child a great insight into a typical day at the school as well as a sense of belonging. For boarders, invite them to have a one-night sleepover in the boarding house. They’ll soon start to feel part of the school’s community.
6. Inform the pupil – for pupils joining mid-year or at a less usual entry point (Year 8, for example), the Head of Year could write to the child about the Year ahead, and what he / she can expect when they join. Obviously this should happen more than once if there is an extended period of time before the child will join.
In short, schools should do everything they can to ensure that families feel connected and involved with the school they’re joining. They will soon start to feel safe in the knowledge that they have made absolutely the right choice and any potential doubt will be eliminated. The school can then feel a little more relaxed about the likelihood of those families actually joining. Result!
If you need help with any aspect of Pupil Recruitment and/or Retention, 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.
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