The school that became over-subscribed almost overnight

Published - Wednesday, November 4, 2015

If you thought that marketing your school is a waste of money then read on.

We recently completed a 12 month review of our work for Kingsthorpe College and were absolutely delighted with the feedback.  Not because everyone thought what we did looked lovely (they did), but because our work helped the school go from a position where it was significantly below its PAN to that of being over-subscribed in just one academic year.

In the face of strong local competition for students, a location that was often mistaken for Northampton University and an historic marketing under-spend, Kingsthorpe College was faced with a declining Year 7 intake, reaching a low in 2014/15.  We were called in by the newly appointed head, Debbie Morrison to help correct this and put the school on the map.  And quickly.  We set about working with the school to combat these issues.  Our short term aim was to increase attendance at their next open evening, with a long-term plan including increasing the number of first choice applications for Year 7 and Year 12 (read more about the initial project in our case study).

What helped us make such a significant impact was the initial investment that the school made to get this right, recognising that they needed to make up for lost time.  The spend (over the year) was roughtly equivalent to the income recieved from 1.5 students across five years.  Our aim was to increase attendance at the next open evening by at least 50% for the school to increase enrolment by at least five students to make this pay. 

During the scheduled review meeting and in a response to a question about their current numbers Debbie was pleased to announce: “After you did what you did, almost overnight, we became over-subscribed.”  The numbers certainly bear that out.  Year 7 intake in 2015/16 increased by a massive 63 students to 243, with a large rise in parents opting to put Kingsthorpe as their first choice over what were previously better-know and outstanding schools.  The school is now massively over-subscribed.  Debbie took the time to point out these statistics, which were displayed proudly on one of their much-usedinflow boards, another product that we produced for the SLT to track progress and help Ofsted understand their story. 

After the initial work was completed Kingsthorpe College saw an increase of 100% in attendance of their Year 7 open evening.  12 months on the school is having to hold multiple open events to accommodate all of the interest.  Debbie recounted that one parent who attended recently complimented the quality of the school prospectus, saying that he would send their child to Kingsthorpe on the strength of it alone, so impressed was he by how well it conveyed the school's ethos and character.  Whether this would have been entirely true or not it certainly does support our own evidence that parents still make judgments based on the quality of such items as prospectuses, websites and advertising, and that it is critical for schools to get it right.  

Of course we can’t take all of the credit for such results.  Debbie is a charismatic, forward-thinking head who understands one of the fundamental aspects of marketing your school: as a head you must be visible, understand your message and drive it home at every opportunity.  We all make decisions that rely on emotional responses and selling your school to potential parents is exactly the same.  Understanding that parents engage with the people in your school on a personal level rather than engaging with the organisation itself is important.  The reputation of your school is built upon the leadership, charisma and vision of the headteacher and it is when they engage directly with parent and students that they can build relationships that over time will deliver the right emotional response.

The trust that Debbie places in us to translate her ideas into reality, (and occasionally convince her that some ideas need tweaking) has played a major factor in the success of this project and we thank her, the school leadership team and her governors for trusting us throughout.  We are very much looking forward to the next phase of the school’s journey as we strengthen what we have developed and begin to look at ways to improve their internal marketing.

We don't employ sale people.  And we don't focus on quick sales that leave you with a solution that isn't right or that breaks after three months.  We care about developing lasting relationships that are built on us delivering solutions that meet and exceed your expectations.  Arrange a free, no obligation meeting with one of our team to see what ideas we can think up for you.