• Dr Marisa

How Jane Helped Improve Student Retention at Her School


The recently released Recession READYness Checklist is helping school management to identify key gaps and determine where to next.

Example One: Meet Jane. She is the Principal of a middle level fee paying, independent R-12 co-ed school.

Jane noticed that enrolments were down for terms 3 and 4. She also believed the School was at high risk of losing more students for 2021 as more principals were reporting the current struggle of parents to justify private school fees in today’s economy.

Jane called an emergency leadership meeting. She led the team in a discussion and review of the information they had relating to why parents choose the School for their child/children and why they stayed (retention). Jane also wanted to check on how the School was performing in those areas that mattered most to parents. However, on analysis and reflection Jane soon realised that most of the team’s knowledge was hearsay – they had no real evidence!

Jane set about organising the collection of evidence to understand why parents selected their School and how parents believed the School was performing on those things that mattered most to them. This involved the design of key questions for current and new parents that could be asked at key points of engagement – e.g., enrolment, parent information nights, online competitions and exit interviews.

It was immediately apparent that there was a disconnect between the hearsay and the evidence.

Jane was not surprised to learn that the typical performance measures used by the School to monitor their performance (e.g., attendance, NAPLAN), had remained stable over the last two years. However, she was surprised to discover that there were some key decision-making factors that had become less important to parents than other factors. This was pivotal information as it meant that the School’s historic value proposition was no longer as meaningful to parents. While the values promulgated in the School’s marketing material had served the School well in the past, the results had serious ramifications for how the School should now be communicating with existing and potential parents. To make matters worse, there was also evidence that the School was underperforming on some of the factors that parents now believed were important.

Jane immediately acted on these results. Together with her leadership team and some outside help, she developed new communications for existing families that focused on the School’s progress and news in those areas that mattered most to them. This included activity - current and planned - in those areas that were important, but which parents thought the School was underperforming. The new information also contributed to a re-think of the School’s strategic planning and marketing to help ensure ongoing high student retention.

Remember, the first step in getting Recession READY is to identify your School’s knowledge gaps. Start getting READY today. Your free copy of the Recession READY Checklist is available to download from our homepage.

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