School Enrolments – Reversing Decline
School Enrolments – Reversing Decline

School Enrolments – Reversing Decline

A common problem inherited by an incoming school principal is declining enrolments. Unfortunately, it is often just one of a number of issues that they may uncover as they settle into the role. 

Many rightly conclude that the declining enrolments are a symptom of the other issues, but then make the mistake of assuming that by fixing the other problems they will also reverse the decline in enrolments.

As outlined in our blog “seeds of decline are often sown in good times”, enrolments are a lag indicator of community perception of the school, and the longer a school takes to address the issue, the harder it is to turn around.

Eddee partners with schools to help them increase enrolments and community engagement and like all solutions, it starts by first understanding the problem.  The reasons for the decline are many and varied and often complex, but the main source of capturing a school’s reputation in the community is with the current families at the school.  Which is why the Eddee team start by understanding their perception of the school.

This combined with local enrolment trend data, provides us with some insight into what stage of decline the school is in, (refer to “seeds of decline” blog for more detail).  As a rule, the longer a trend has been in place the harder it will be to reverse.  Our methodology tends to find out things that the school leadership team would never uncover on their own.

Having established an understanding of the problem, we then work on ways the school can address any perception issues that have taken hold in the community and start building the reputation it wants to have and is deserving of.  Unfortunately, there is no quick fix as once established, reputations can be hard to shift.  However, a coordinated and consistent approach based on genuine school features and accomplishments can rapidly build momentum. Alternatively, a quick-fire, surface level marketing blitz that fails to address the underlying perception issues and/or delivers a very inconsistent interaction with the school, can do more harm than good.   For example, brochures that contradict the website, or a school front office environment that make new families feel unwelcome.

First and foremost, it is important to get the families currently at the school on side and understanding the school’s messaging and positioning and the importance of it. It is their voice in the community that will carry the most weight.  Some of them will have younger children at pre-school centres and involved in community activities, and just like parents of children attending other schools, the current parents commentary on their school will have a significant impact on the parents of children yet to start school.

Footnote for Schools:
Our research shows that a school’s share of the local student catchment is a stronger predictor of school success than school size.  If you would like this data for your school, please reach out and contact us for a confidential discussion.