Has the School Website overthrown the School Prospectus?

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Now that state schools finally recognise the school prospectus as a vital marketing tool, they will need to consider the different channels through which it can be delivered.

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It wasn't many years ago when it was only private schools that vied for the attention of parents and guardians by producing glossy school prospectuses highlighting the benefits of their school while mainstream schools cobbled together a prospectus which purely met the needs of the Department for Education. With an increase in competition due to the introduction of new Free Schools and Academies, state schools have started to think harder about how they promote themselves.

Coincidentally, as the school prospectus becomes a more recognised marketing tool for state schools, the DfE have changed legislation so that it is no longer obligatory for a school to produce one (provided that certain information is included on the school’s website). Whilst some may see this as the final nail in the coffin for the state school prospectus, many schools are bringing the traditional format into the digital age. Using an online, virtual school prospectus with a digital page turning display is allowing schools to either reduce or eliminate the need to print hard-copy prospectuses while still presenting themselves in the classic form.

It’s true; a school prospectus design is more linear than a website where the prospective parent or pupil can skip between pages and sections as they wish; however, with a prospectus (digital or otherwise) comes the ability to take the prospective parent or pupil on a pre-defined journey. Enhance that journey with a virtual tour of the facilities, audio of the latest concert or video from pupils and staff and the prospectus suddenly comes to life; giving the audience an immersive online experience.

In challenging economic times, every company seeks to reduce costs; not least schools. In most cases, replacing printed copies with a virtual version will save more than 50% of the overall costs. Add to that the flexibility that a digital prospectus offers in allowing update it easily (no costly re-prints) and the true value of the digital prospectus becomes known. Offering the same version both in print and online not only reduces the number of hard copies that need to be printed but also allows people instant access, reaching a wider audience as people don’t need to decide to order a copy.

The school prospectus is certainly not dead; it has evolved, adopting a new communication channel, playing a more interactive role and engaging prospective parents and pupils like never before!

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Daniel Clarke
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