Independent Schools – Interesting Scenarios

The birth rate in the UK has been consistent rising year on year for quite some time (since 2002). It’s a global trend and one that’s putting a lot of strain on all pretty much all the systems in society. One of the worst affected is the school system. Every year since 2012 the rates of children being accepted to their first, second, and even third choice schools has been falling. First choice placements for secondary schools fell from 82.1% in 2018 to just 80.9% in 2019; correlating with a fall for top three placements from 95.5% in 2018 to 94.8% in 2019. This could spell the rise of the independent schools

There are around 2500 independent schools in the UK; most are junior schools but all. Over 550,000 children are at independent school, which is nearly 6% of all UK school pupils.

There are big discrepancies in regional uptake of private schooling. In Scotland merely 4% but with a far healthier 25% in the capital; A decent 10% in the South East of the country rising to an unsurprising 13% in London. The figures rise far more steeply towards the end of schooling with around 20% of all UK 6th formers in independent education.

It is generally true to say that independent school pupils achieve higher average examination scores than regular government run school population. Over 50% of GCSE entries from independent schools are awarded a grade A/A*, compared to a national average of around 20%. At A-level, over 50% are awarded grade A compared to about 25%. Independent schools make up one third of A-level candidates gaining three grade A’s or better. The vast majority end up going to university.

However there has been some tough times for independent schools recently, rising costs and a need to maintain educational standards above an ever improving public school system has meant lots of schools increasing their fees. So, in order to combat falling numbers, what they need to fill their classes, is some effective marketing!

Marketing for an independent school has a very different set of parameters than a typical B2C campaign. The usual customer journey has many more stages than a usual B2C relationship, more touchpoints = more opportunities however it also means more moments for the customer to lose interest. Parents need to see an advert, contact the school, check out information about services etc, make a visit to an open day, and have an obligatory meeting with an educational decision maker. This could be repeated for each prospective school! A tough sell.

Fortunately, private schooling has a mystique all its own. They have great social clout. Parents who have enough money and interest in this kind of educational route often communicate with other likeminded prospective school goers. This connectivity, only enhanced with social media, means most parents base opinions about independent schooling from their friends. The efficiency of advertising, social media posts, and the school’s website is absolutely crucial. It needs to reflect keenly what is on offer, especially important in order to target the right parent types (those who value sport over academia, those who value alumni over cost, those who value Ofsted reports over courses on offer, the list goes on).

The most important thing to remember is you are engaging with parents that are making decisions about their children and simultaneously making financial commitments often worth more than the average salary …for possibly many years. Independent campaigns should always be treated with the reverence and due thought they warrant in order to create the ideal return on investment, not just for the school, but also the parents, and even their children.


Seelocal have proven experience making the most of marketing for independent schools. We can get more local eyes on your open day and make sure children have the best opportunity to succeed by finding your school. Book for a no obligation demonstration of our system today.

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