How should State Schools market themselves? Creating clear marketing opportunities in 2021


When it comes to marketing any school, it should be done throughout the year, as there are always families moving, parents relocating or even just looking for a new school for their child to attend. Yet, unlike independent schools, state schools do not have to worry about having to show parents what they are paying for.

Although this takes a layer off the marketing process for state schools, they still need to be able to promote themselves, and it helps if the school has many wonderful achievements (in the classroom and on the sports field) – as well as being able to show what other events they hold.

However, few state schools will have the finance to have a marketing team to help them with this, and they will have to market themselves with just the help of the staff. 

In this article, we will be looking at many different ways state schools market:

    • How important is the role of Ofsted when it comes to state school marketing? 
    • What do state schools do that affect an Ofsted report?
    • Is there a cycle between an Ofsted report and how successful a state school is with marketing?


State schools and Ofsted reports


How important is the role of Ofsted when it comes to state school marketing? 

Ofsted plays a big part when it comes to marketing a state school. If they have an outstanding Ofsted rating, then more parents will want their child to attend the school.

This current inspection model was introduced in 1992 by then Prime Minister John Major. He wanted a more precise system that would examine schools every four years that could then be able to share their reports with the school and parents. 

From that point, changes were made to improve the system that Ofsted first introduced. Depending on how the schools were rated previously came to affect when Ofsted would next visit. For example, if a school was given an outstanding rating they would be seen again four years later, whereas if they were rated as inadequate, they would be seen more frequently. Ofsted can also carry out spot checks, as a way of getting a clearer picture of how a school actually runs. 

State schools know how important Ofsted reports are because their inspections are publicly available. They also know that Ofsted favour opinions from parents about how engaging schools are and how much they know about their children’s education. If more parents feel that a school includes them in their children’s study, this contributes towards a higher rating on the Ofsted report, and this, in turn, helps the school market itself as a quality school.

Ofsted reports are published publicly, meaning that anyone can look up and compare how and why one school does better than another.

Ofsted digs deep; they learn how the staff teaches pupils who are struggling, how the school engages the parents and how the school uses events and trips to enhance the children’s development.

Being able to see all of this helps schools promote themselves and help parents decide which school to send their child to. 


What do state schools do that affect an Ofsted report?

We know that state schools need a good or outstanding Ofsted report to help them market themselves, but what can they do to improve their ratings? There are a number of ways they can do this, for example:


Parental engagement

Parents help a lot when it comes to marketing a state school and yet they don’t always realise this. As mentioned above, parents have the option to share their opinions with Ofsted, and if the parent has a good relationship with the school, they are more likely to share their view.

A great way for schools to develop and enhance the relationship with parents is regular communication – using (for example) email and social media to showcase what is happening in the school on a regular basis.

Visual content is crucially important – it helps to improve the engagement not only of the school and parent but also of parents and their children’s education. When schools provide visual communications – photos of students, their achievements, sports and other events – and send it to the parents, they feel more involved. Southfield School, for example, provides education for children with learning difficulties and they take photos of their students’ work to send to their parents. 

Schools that engage parents in the way Southfield does, help parents feel that they are a part of their child’s educational process, and this can dramatically improve their opinion about the school and the way it is run.

This, in turn, will reflect on the Ofsted reports, and encourage a positive outlook on the school, as well as helping future parents choose for their children to attend this school. Every parent wants the chance to send their child to the best-rated schools.


State school marketing


Using visual content

When state schools have the chance to show their achievements and what their students take part in to develop their education, photos and videos play a very important role in this.

The saying ‘A picture paints a thousand words’ shows how important visual content is when it comes to marketing.

A single photo can impart a lot of information; a host of photos and videos can really help to promote a school, to show how amazing their educational experience is, how great their sporting achievements are, and communicate almost any other message they wish.

With just one glimpse of a photo, a parent can see what the student is doing, and even get a feel for their emotion and experience, by the expression of their face. 

State schools find visual content so useful – not only to demonstrate to parents what their child has achieved but also to use on displays around the school, for students to feel proud of their achievements and carry on working hard on their development.

These approaches also show Ofsted inspectors how the school prioritises the importance of student progress which, again, can have a positive impact on their overall rating. And with a higher rating comes more marketing opportunities.


Posting on their website

The online world has many benefits for schools, and one of them is the opportunities it presents for brand marketing.

Every school has a website to promote itself, and show to parents what it has to offer. A well run, well-designed website is a chance for a state school to leverage the powerful impact of photographs and other visual media.

They can highlight all of the wonderful events that they have throughout the year, showcasing both schoolwork and extracurricular activities.

Some state schools specialise in a certain subject. For example, The Highfield School specialises in Science, and because of this, they have events surrounding this topic such as Science Day.

State schools such as Highfield have the chance to take photos to post on their websites to show how much students enjoy these events – and it’s a fun way of learning! It also helps Ofsted to see how the staff work to encourage the students to develop their education and this will more likely make Ofsted rate a school higher.


Marketing for state schools


Is there a cycle between an Ofsted report and how successful a state school is with marketing?

It’s important to remember the cycle that schools have with Ofsted, that if schools cannot demonstrate what they do to help their students improve their education nor show student achievements, they will be given a lower rating.

This situation does not help the school to market itself, as parents take particular notice of Ofsted ratings when selecting a school for their child. This can then result in the school taking on fewer pupils.

The government funds schools depending on how many students they have, one pupil can bring in up to £7000. A state school that has fewer students will then not have the funds to pay for resources to help develop their students’ education. Nor will they be able to spare funds for ‘extras’, such as hiring outside guests to create additional learning experiences. All of this cycles back to Ofsted inspecting the school and once again having to give them an inadequate for their rating. 

Many state schools have experienced this downward spiral, which – once begun – can be a challenging trap to break free from.


Knowing this makes it important to find a way to help schools that are struggling to be given a fair chance when it comes to marketing. Every state school knows that their marketing strategy has to be an ongoing task as they need to create a relationship with parents and be able to show Ofsted how their school is improving.

As visual content experts, Splento understands how important visual content is when it comes to promoting a state school online – and developing and improving those relationships with parents. 

This is why we have developed the Splento App as a way to help you build bridges with parents and students, engage them, improve relationships and – ultimately –  help market your school.

The app is a secure way for you to post photos and videos of your students, for parents to feel they are more of a part of their child’s educational journey and view the school positively.

And with the app, you no longer have to spend hours double-checking whether a parent gave you permission to use their child’s photo on your website, for marketing or other use.

Safety, security and parental consent are automatically built-in.

If you are interested in having a free demonstration, or simply want to know more about how Splento App can help you, then visit our website today, where you can also find ways to get in touch with us.


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