A selling point for your school

15th February 2008 at 00:00
Schools are not companies but they still have to sell themselves. One of the prime tools for this is the prospectus the school produces. This document is mainly for parents of potential pupils and has to be issued at least six weeks before the closing date for expressions of parental preference. Primary schools should therefore be busy looking at just what they put into it and how it is expressed.

Very little of the content is prescribed by law - just details of how the school provides for pupils with special needs or disabilities. But there is a lot that would be noticed if it were missing - the school's ethos, the curriculum, extra-curricular activities, Sats results, uniform policy, term dates and the behaviour policy.

The snag is that some of this remains the same from year to year, so it is tempting just to change the minimum of wording each time. However, eventually the prospectus would become stale. You might argue that it is always new to the people who read it, but emphases in education change, photographs look dated, and even cutting-edge designs become old hat. Look hard at the last prospectus before you start the new one, and ask whether it is time for a relaunch. Changing the governors responsible for this task will bring fresh eyes to it.

The basic principles might seem to be no-brainers: keep it clear; make it look attractive; be positive and upbeat. But these things are not as easy to achieve as you might think. They need some critical input.

It is always a good idea to test out the proofs on some governors not involved in its production, especially parents, as they will have more idea what new parents are looking for. If the cost are too high, you could produce a glossy brochure for the parts that won't change for two or three years, with an insert for the annual variables.

Stephen Adamson, Vice-chair, National Governors Association.

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