Why is it important to ensure that the community supports – and, frankly, is aware of – your school?
No school is an island – so why should they act like one? The school environment, as a whole, can feel quite isolated. Consider: do you have fruitful connections with other schools in your area? Are the parents of the children who attend engaged? Do you communicate and collaborate with local businesses? If not, why not?
Creating a community can be hugely beneficial to a school; this is something Phil Burton will discuss during his EdExec Live seminar on 27 February and 18 June, diving into the story of his own primary school and how it went from being seen as the worst in the area to turning people away because it’s so in-demand – all through community engagement.
However, for now, let’s explore some of the reasons why engaging with the community can be a boon to your school.
As happened with Phil’s school, engaging with the community – by putting on special events, getting parents more involved with what their children are doing and inviting local businesses to become partners – can be an enormous boost to a school’s reputation. If people know nothing about your school, how will they know what it has to offer beyond its Ofsted rating? Here are some simple ways to communicate what you’re doing:
Let parents and carers of your pupils know what the school is doing. Allow them to get to know your staff, your school’s ethos and what the children do that they don’t normally get to hear about.
Many schools make great use of Twitter and Facebook to post pictures and videos of what the children are doing, what the staff are doing and what the school, generally is doing. It’s a great way to engage with other schools and SBMs, too.
Have parents meet school staff in a less formal environment than parents’ evening. What about a dinner hosted at the school? Or a cheese-and-wine evening? Things like this humanise the various members of staff and ensure parents know much more about where their child attends.
Making connections with local businesses can lead to long-lasting, mutually beneficial, relationships. When procuring, do you prioritise local businesses or go straight to Amazon? While the latter has its benefits and its charm, a local business offers personalised services and added benefits such as ongoing product maintenance and customer service – neither of which online giants can provide.
Alternative funding streams
Vitally, making connections with the community can open up new revenue streams – a hugely important factor to consider when budgets are being continually squeezed. Ways to raise money include things like fun runs, inviting parents to dine at the school with their children for a small fee, selling items the children have made, putting on fetes and fairs and letting school facilities, out-of-hours, to a variety of clubs and groups which might struggle to find such provision elsewhere.
It’s important to be in touch with your local community – how do you get involved?