Who’s holding the purse strings?
In marketing to the education sector we need to understand who makes the decisions and with what financial support they make them. It’s not a simple case of ‘state schools’ and ‘independent schools’ (not that it’s ever been that straightforward). Today we’re faced with Academies and Free Schools that have significant financial and teaching autonomy, but are, in essence, still state schools. How important those kinds of details are will differ across the spectrum of organisations connecting with them, but you can be assured that EdCo knows how each school works.
Groups of schools: academy chains, federations and independent school groups
One of the most important details to acknowledge with any school is who they’re owned by or connected to. Personal referrals, or ‘word of mouth’ marketing, can be incredibly valuable when working with schools so EdCo flags important relationships from academy chains (like ARK’s) to independent school group and federations.
Religious affiliation (faith schools)
Around a third of state schools in England have a religious affiliation, with the vast majority being Christian (68% Church of England and 30% Roman Catholic). Other Christian faith schools include Baptist and Methodist, but it has only been in the last 15 years that the first Hindu, Muslim and Sikh faith schools have opened. While all Jewish, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh schools are voluntary aided, Christian faith schools are either voluntary controlled or voluntary aided. Therefore, it’s important to appreciate the differences in their staffing and admissions policies.
Specialist schools and colleges
Funding for school specialisms was first established in the late-1980s to facilitate the introduction of Technology as a curriculum subject. The City Technology Colleges Trust was established in 1987 to support the newly-established CTC’s, but its remit was widened to include all specialist schools in 2003 (as the renamed Specialist Schools Trust) and then academies in 2005 (as the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT)).
Since the turn of the century, the focus has been on whole-school improvement rather than unconnected centres of excellence. An emphasis was placed on schools establishing partnerships with businesses for both funding and other support. That business sponsorship would normally amount to £50,000 in addition to the £100,000 government grant and per-pupil allocation.
When the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition came to power in 2010 it ended ring-fenced funding for specialist schools, so the SSAT downsized and now focuses on providing continuing professional development in the guise of The Schools Network.
Eco Schools and school farms
Around two-thirds of UK schools are FPS-registered; they don’t accept sales and marketing communications by fax. Particularly over the last decade, schools – and especially primary schools – have become more environmentally conscious. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland each have ‘Eco School’ programmes whereby schools register and commitment to a set of values by which they are assessed and rewarded:
- Bronze Award
- Silver Award
- 1st Green Flag
- 2nd Green Flag (1st renewal)
- 3rd Green Flag (2nd renewal)
- 4th Green Flag (3rd renewal)
A couple of dozen schools in the UK have gone beyond Eco School status and maintain a working farm on- or off-site, including arable and livestock farms.