1. The school market will remain in flux
'You ain't seen nothing yet' - Bachman Turner Overdrive
It might seem as if 2016 was turbulent enough for schools. And yet, in many ways it was just the calm before the storm. 2017 will probably see the start of English grammar school expansion. It will see a revitalised New Schools Network with the extrovert Toby Young pushing the Government to maximise the Free Schools programme. Schools will be pushed into larger trusts for financial reasons (perhaps because the academic arguments are still unclear). There might be a lot of 'free' places in private schools. There will be major teacher shortages. There's a new funding formula for schools - and more and more schools will be looking to parents, former students and their local community to raise money.
And of course, schools will have to communicate ongoing curriculum changes - 2017 is the first year to see the 9-1 GCSE grades (in English and Maths) and the first non-modular A-levels. Phew....
2. Schools will respond by increasing their marketing competence.
It's interesting though to see what is happening in return. The NASBM has made marketing one of its five major skill areas for school Business Managers (see diagram below), councils and trusts are putting more emphasis on communication, and there are many more marketing jobs being advertised by schools and trusts. Preliminary results from our 2016 School Marketing Survey show that strategy is the development area within marketing that schools are most concerned about for 2017.
Drilling down into more tactical areas of marketing, it's clear that most schools will be managing communications and marketing on tight budgets, as well as trying to support busy front line heads and teachers. One solution is to automate a lot of marketing communcations. Hopefully schools will become better at segmenting key stakeholders and keeping them up to date with news that is relevant to them - and at the same time sharing stories more easily and widely. We had a look at some tools to help with this earlier in the year - and we'll be sharing more ideas in 2017.
4. Schools will set up recruitment portals and use case studies to cope with the #teacherrecruitmentcrisis
Our 2016 School Recruitment Survey showed that schools were taking initial steps to help them recruit and retain the best teachers. But only 1 in 5 or less were showcasing their current staff or creating dedicated website pages to help attract new staff. In 2017 (even more than 2016) it won't be enough to just announce you've got a job - and schools that start first will ensure that jobseekers are engaged enough to make it to interviews.
5. Schools will use new tools to create closer communities
Many schools have chosen Facebook or Twitter to create communities that engage their stakeholders (parents, governors, the local community etc). However, there are a number of issues with them - for example there are times when you just want to talk to one group (for example when you want to let parents know of an outbreak of nits, or to tell 14 parents about a football match). New 'walled communities' such as SchoolCal might be the answer, as well as providing new ways of gaining feedback - and cutting down the paper and photocopying bills!
1. Monitoring social media will become a higher priority for schools
This has been an major issue in 2016 - perhaps culminating with the Government directive in September that ‘many children have unlimited and unrestricted access to the internet via 3G and 4G in particular and the school and college should carefully consider how this is managed on their premises’ (Keeping Children Safe in Education, September 2016, pp62-63.). We're looking with interest to see what our 2016 School Marketing Survey says about the actions of individual schools.
2. Schools will use social media to support staff recruitment
Our 2016 School Recruitment Survey showed 45% of schools now using social media for recruitment - below are some examples from the last few days. If you're not using your social media channels in this way, please start (it's free!).
This might have been a bit ahead of its time. While video use increased across websites and social media, there wasn't a lot of evidence of live video streaming by schools in 2016. That said, Facebook is making a big push around its Facebook Live product and Twitter has just fully integrated Periscope into Twitter. So, why not give it a go in 2017 and engage stakeholders in your school events?
Again, there have been some schools that have been advertising on social media - but it's been a much slower process than using social media without advertising. We'll keep looking for them in 2017 though!