7 thoughts on “Something to Consider.”

  1. To address a school with falling enrolment I would explore the following and address shortfalls, areas of concern;

    1. Look at CSO figures for births in the area and how many young people are available for possible enrolments for the short and medium term.

    2. Look at housing developments and potential housing developments including green sites to ascertain if there is a greater cohort of students to be attracted not just immediately but to sustain numbers in the school.

    3. Look at feeder schools, build positive relationships. Offer your sports facilities for whole school
    events, have subject based quizzes/activities in your school for senior pupils, allow your school to be used for summer camps (insurance permitting) to promote the school as a place of welcome, a place for the entire community.

    4. Bring the teacher most anxious to retain their job the following year to the primary school visits!! Review previous presentations, look what other schools are doing during this presentation time. Make those visits real, interactive and fun displaying all aspects of school life and school opportunities. Maybe a momenta/a reminder of the visit. Young people of that age love the ‘rubber type’ wrist bands. Maybe a batch with the school colours, name and logo budget permitting. It will be a reminder of a great presentation and school.

    5. Open night. Revisit the aim and objectives of this important occasion. Visit other open nights incognito. What are they doing, are there aspects that could be incorporated into our school open night? Review on a whole school level the running of the Open Night, it is an showcase of all that we are and the greatest opportunity to show all that we do . Look at individual teacher presentations. Are they presenting as people who parents would like to entrust their child’s education to? Are the presentations engaging and interactive, a reflection of the teaching and learning style. Take a micro look at the school building, corridors, bathrooms, are they clean? Look at posters and displays, use these to showcase, check them for spelling and tattiness, every impression counts. Look at the organisation of the night and ensure smooth running, this will show that our school is organised, values parents time and interest in the school. Offer tea/coffee, parents coming from work will remember this kind action above anything that might be said.

    5. What is the commonly held perception of the school, has it ‘a name’ for being a school that ‘is sporty’, ‘is academic’, ‘has no discipline’, ‘is vocational orientated’, ‘does not support SEN students’ and many of the other perceptions which may be real or imagined. Be all of these things and more. Look to the ethos of the school. Are there aspects of the ethos and charter that may be neglected. There is always room for improvement.

    6. Look at the public profile of the school (website/app). Create one if it doesn’t exist. Does it give equal ‘airing’ to all of these facets of the school community and it is in keeping with the schools ethos and charter. From the school website it is clear that this is a school that I as a parent would want to entrust my child to. Is it clear that there is provision for all students, curricular and non curricular, and that students from all races, cultures and creeds are welcome. Is it clear that there is a clear support structure for all students?

    7. Talk to community leaders, talk to the parents association, to the board of management, elicit as many perceptions of the school that are out there. Decide as a staff what perception you would like people to have and work towards this in a whole school project. Tackle the misperceptions eg. if the school is perceived as ‘a hurling school’ showcase equally other sports that happen in the school and if they don’t, facilitate them by encouraging other sports, purchasing equipment, make pitches available and showcase these on your website and app.

    8. How do your current students reflect the ethos of the school? When out of school is their uniform worn with pride, do they return to school promptly after lunch, if out, how do they behave towards and with members of the wider community? Are they respectful and well mannered or boisterous, likely to get into trouble, congregate in groups and appear intimidating? A piece of work may need to be done on impressions, appropriate behaviour when in uniform, and close monitoring of same acknowledging always the positive behaviours, positive interactions, positive actions.

    9. Look at the website and app. Are they accurate reflections of what is happening in the school? Are they user friendly and accessible, is the information up to date? These are the windows of the school and need attention. Ensure they are well maintained, current and accurate. Are all relevant policies available in the public domain and have they been ratified by the Board of Management and Trustees?

    8. Survey current students and staff on their experience in the school SWOT style. Make sure those strengths are known and visible to the public, assess the weaknesses presented and how they might be turned around, turn the opportunities in to actions and be realistic about threats and have strategies to ensure they do not become weaknesses.

    9. Look at the school buildings. Parents and students will always be drawn to the ‘new and shiny’ even without the benefit of a proven track record of teaching and learning. Work with the school building, use its positive features to create a welcome space, planting, some painting work and a new name sign would enhance peoples perception of the school.

  2. Organize a meeting with staff to get their take on what the issues are.

    Liaisie with Parents of existing & Pupils to get an insight into their experience.

    Establish what the issues are. For example, in one school I know, numbers started to drop as there was a large cohort of SEN pupils so Parents of Neurotypical students started to withdraw their children as they believed the school was becoming a “special school”.

    So, it would be important to know what the issues are before you can try to resolve it. An open evening promoting partnership with the existing Parents could give vital information.
    Check records to see if it has been documented why Parents withdraw their Pupils if this is what happened.

    A visionary response would need to be initiated considering things like the gender of the school, the reputation, the uniform, the positives and the possible negative perceptions that needed to be addressed,

    Get the staff involved in relaunch initiatives. Each subject department could be responsible for their area of expertise.
    Get any positive inspection report details printed on display stands (Screens) which celebrate the achievements of the school and would raise staff morale.

    Try to give the school a bit of a makeover for the relaunch , a warm colour scheme theme running through the school to make it look visually more inviting. Acknowledge the vision and ethos of the school and ERST values that draw Parents to our school.
    Involve the BOM. staff, pupils & parent committee so the relaunch is done in partnership withall parties of the shcool community.. Take on board the feedback of all parties and ensure it is a collaborative response.

    Delegate duties to all willing parties; Let hem know the importance of their role and acknowledge their hard work.
    Brochures
    Prospectus
    Interactive active activities for the open night that demonstrate the excellent Teaching & Learning that does take place.. Science experiments with a wow factor, Lino printing in the art room. Opportunity to make something in the metal work room, Kahoot games going on in other classes. Make it fun, give the kids the chance to see what is on offer. Create the buzz that may have been missing. Generate a new excitement. This should all be planned and delivered week in advance of the new enrolment.
    Invite past pupils who are now in Leadership roles to talk about their positive experience and ask local Politicians to attend. Have a music recital byy the Pupils as Parents make their entrance. Ensure that Parents and students leave being buzzed.

    The whole approach should be one of partnership from a visionary Leadership perspective. Make your vision a reality.

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  3. To begin, there are many reasons why a school would experience falling enrollment. These must be considered first. I am writing my answer based on the school having a poor reputation as the reason for falling enrollment. Using this as a starting point, I would look at the following:

    1. Start to develop stronger relationships with local primary schools: task someone with the job of visiting primary schools to promote what your school has to offer. Invest in developing brochures to give out in the schools and/ or something branded with the school crest for example. Following on from this develop in- house activities that will get the local primary pupils into the school: for example, a Dungeons and Dragons tournament or indoor soccer blitz. If both of these events are run, I would hope that you would get a wider variety of pupils attending (ie. not just the sporty pupils).
    In line with this, the online presence of the school could be developed. For example, new or updated social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, in addition to an updated website. A prize to entice people to share upcoming events (for example the open night) is always a winner. Every opportunity should be taken to showcase the school in a positive light.

    2. The afore- mentioned initiatives can only be effective if serious effort is put into transforming the public perception of the school in terms of behaviour, uniform etc. This involves a strong management with parent buy in. All the school community must be aware of what is acceptable in terms of uniform and behaviour. There must be clear consequences if a student attends without full uniform and there must be clarity on what constitutes a full uniform. This will help change the perception of the school slowly over time. I have been part of schools where the uniform was changed in addition to the name and branding of the school in efforts to change the school’s perception. By doing this, over time, the school succeeded in attracting different types of students than previously. An emphasis could be put on extra- curricular activities in order to support this, develop the school as somewhere to go that has a great football team, soccer team, choir, etc.
    These are all things that do not happen overnight however and both staff and parent buy in is vital.

  4. Starting out an overall view of how the school is viewed in its own catchment area is important. Schools need to be aware of the control they have over their image and reputation. Within the school environment there are many stakeholders all occupying different roles and having different views; these differing roles and views all need consideration when managing your image and reputation.
    With this in mind you would need to get a picture of how the school is viewed by all stakeholders inside and outside of the school. Find out the positives and the negatives.
    Review the feeder schools, are there trends in how the numbers dropping. Is there the same population of potential students still within the feeder schools?
    With all of the information gathered a short and long term plans can be put in place to help build a new positive image of the school.
    Things to consider are open night, school brochure, newsletters and promotional video. How you promote the school in the local community with website, social media and local press.
    Review the subject availability within the school. Are there subjects that could be added to the curriculum? What subjects that are doing well in the school? Could be used to develop a positive image of the school, like STEM subjects. Use extra-curricular on offer in the school to help in promoting school life.

  5. Many factors could contribute to falling enrolment. A committee would need to be established with the task of identifying the reasons and to then implement change to address these.

    A new school with modern buildings and facilities in the area will probably always impact on enrolment numbers of other ‘older’ schools. This is easy to foresee and predict, so it is important that two or 3 years in advance of its opening to have a campaign to create positive publicity locally about your own school. Schools needs to be active in disseminating all the positive things happening in the school, on an academic, extra-curricular and social front. Very often schools do not make the local community aware of the great things happening on a regular basis, so the use of local newspapers, the school website and social media should be used to build the school image and profile in the local area.

    If the school has developed a bad reputation due to bad behavior, it is essential that this is addressed within the school. This not only serves the school community, but also with time improve how the school is viewed. Clear policies need to be shared with staff, students and parents in school and on the website and the code of behaviour must be adhered to with clear consequences if it is breached. Parents must have faith that the school will care for their children and a solid code of behaviour is needed for this.

    An up-to-date website and social media accounts are vital these days as platforms for positive PR for the school. Outdated website and pages that are not used will not gain traffic and show disinterest to a modern community.

  6. To deal with falling number in the school, id feel that researching the reason behind it is a vital approach. Listening to what staff and students have to say I feel is vital in firstly improving the school. Students notice more going on in the school than some teachers. Students have high knowledge of what is working in the school and what is not. This information can easily be passed back to parents and word of mouth can lead parents looking elsewhere for enrolment for their son or daughter. Addressing issues shows that the school is an open community willing to listen to staff and students and working towards improving the school.

    As mentioned above social media is key in this day and age as information can be accessed so easily. We have an attention span of 7 seconds when we open a webpage and have minds made up on whether a website interests so first impressions for for parents is key. Promoting everything the school does on social media leaves a lasting impression for parents and help increase the school being searched on google.

    Involving parents in the extra curricular activities gives a sense of ownership for parents in the school and i have witnessed parents fundraising for new equipment and jerseys for students and the school. It allows the parents to get to know the staff and it in itself is self promoting to other parents. Assess what parents are looking for in the school and can the school meets their needs. Opens nights and VR tours allow the school to promote themselves in a way never seen before. With the new blended learning, having teachers teach parents about can be one way of meeting the needs of parents that they know that the education of theri son or daughter will always looked after.

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