One Year On From The First Lockdown

We often hear the phrase ‘every day is a school day’ and the past 12 months has certainly been a time of learning and revising. Stepping out of comfort zones, exploring new ways of delivering events and with advertising plans out the window, it was definitely a time to get creative!

Independent education is a considered purchase that would usually involve numerous on site school tours, open days and allowing pupils and families to familiarise themselves with a school, working towards the main objective of deciding if the school is the right fit for their child.

Being able to communicate the ‘feel’ of a school in lockdown was difficult. A schools pupils play a huge part in marketing the school to prospective families and from very early on, the sector adapted plans with an increase in virtual, video and social media marketing to tell its story.

One year on from the first lockdown and the sector is stronger than ever in the South West. There has been an increase in families looking to move from larger cities to more urban/county settings, with the main source being from the London market, so it is a positive outlook for most.

Learnings from the last year would be that in order to survive you need to be authentic, true to yourself and what you offer. Continuing to build trust has been key in understanding the marketplace and expectations of families and pupils. 

Most schools offer virtual tours but by altering major open days to be virtual during lockdown, the reach has been incredible. Not only has there been a rise in attracting more countries internationally, some schools have witnessed the highest application numbers ever. This is not the same for all schools, but the majority are holding their own and looking forward to a bright 2022.

The 12 months saw an increase in giving back across the sector. This ranged from a schools’ DT departments working to make face shields and masks for local hospitals and care homes, to families donating old laptops, to schools and staff and children raising funds for the NHS. The sector raised funds for charities, as communities wanted to say thank you.

Takeaways from the last 12 months would be that overall the use of IT has developed at a dramatic rate, families have adapted well to the virtual offering and online learning, although this has been well received, it cannot replace the classroom. The value of being part of a community and the buzz of a school has been missed by staff and pupils. 

From a marketing perspective, a number of activities will remain. Having a virtual offering will remain for events, especially for those that have a boarding community. Our knowledge about IT and digital has further developed in and out of the classroom allowing for an increase in engaging content.

Although it has been an incredibly tough year, the sector has come back stronger and has grown in many ways that will only help its survival over the coming years.

Written by Sarah Patten