Parents often register their children for pre-prep and prep schools several years in advance, stumping up not insignificant registration fees to do so. In some cases this will guarantee a place at the school but increasingly schools are assessing children (and parents) for entry at 4+, usually in the early part of the year prior to September entry.
Assuming many parents will also be looking at state primary schools, particularly in areas where provision is good but places are hotly contested and possibly two or more preps, what should schools be doing to ensure they stay top of mind and top of registered parents’ lists?
Probably more than sending the odd calendar or mass mailing invitation to another Open Day. At some point you are going to be asking this family to come in for assessments and interview and then, if they are offered a place, they will need to pay a deposit to secure the place. From the moment they commit money to you, even if the place is not yet offered, you should start to make them feel part of your community.
- Sending weekly newsletters (preferably via email) will keep them up to date with what is happening in school.
- Personalising letters with invitations to events (Summer/Christmas Fairs) will provoke a much more favourable response.
- Running parent & Pre-schooler events so families can come into school (storytelling; outdoor activities) and start to feel familiar in your surroundings
- Offering a refresher tour closer to the assessment dates to ensure parents are reminded of what you offer and you can tell them about any new/updated facilities, curriculum additions.
- Include them at PTA events – nothing persuades prospective parents more than hearing current parents rave/enthuse about their child’s school so why not encourage registered parents to come along to a PTA social.
Ultimately you may not be able to offer these parents a place for their child, or indeed they may turn your offer down but you want every parent to have a positive feeling about your school in case they have younger siblings who they might consider for entry, so that they can tell their friends how friendly, warm and welcoming you are or, in case their circumstances change and they come knocking at your door looking for a place in the future.