Parents around the world are looking for schools which feel like a family; a school where you fit in right away and from the minute you walk in, you know this is the best one for your children. What they encounter a lot of times is quite the opposite: extensive scrutiny of nationality, finances, previous school performance, child’s character, etc.
So how should school behave to attract new students?
1-An informative website
Build a website which helps parents navigate easily and find out their most sought-after information: fees, how to apply, who the teachers are and other families in their shoes. You could also add: things to consider when moving to that country/city. There are so many schools out there without a credible website, pictures which do not reflect the students in that school, no fees information thinking that if parents go through the labyrinth of talking to the school first, they will somehow be convinced it’s easier to join their school.
2-School tour staff/receptionist
They are the school ambassadors; the first people newcomers meet when coming to your school. There is nothing more off-putting than a desk of about 6 people with nothing to do, playing on their mobile phones. In an ideal situation, school tour staff would be parents who can relate to newcomers because of their similar life experiences.
3- Good communication
The principal of a very important school, which I shall not mention, just wrote to some possible students something like this: ‘If you can figure out the transportation to our school, I will be happy to offer you a place. If that’s not possible, good luck with your future applications’. We can all agree on the fact that giving a solution and trying to accommodate newcomers is the best way to attract new customers.
4-An approachable principal
Many parents feel more comfortable to talk to the principal themselves than go through the hierarchy. If the school is very big, that might not always be possible, However, offering parents the possibility to approach the principal at least some of the times is reassuring of the principal’s good intentions to build bridges of communication with the parents.
5-Establish a PTA
Many principals are afraid of the power of a parents’ teachers’ association, yet the truth is that, if chosen carefully, those parents can be a source of credibility for the school. They build pride and commitment, they can really use their influence and bring in new finances etc. They can also smooth out conflicts, as they believe strongly in their school’s reputation.
6-Create a welcoming board
Help newcomers fit right in by putting them in touch, even before they sign up with your school, with the members of the welcoming board. They will be so relieved to find out that their children can make friends easily, they find a point of all kinds of useful information to help them adjust into the new country/city.
7-Provide academic information
Parents love to be informed about what exactly their children study every day, how well they perform, before the typical parents- teacher conference. Help them know how to support their children’s academic journey, via workshops to explain new teaching/learning methodologies, new ways of testing/assessing, new rules and regulations for national/international exams.
8- Run surveys
Run surveys regularly to ensure communication as well as active listening, and to give parents a voice to express their likes/dislikes in anonymous way, without being afraid of being put on the spot.