THE BLOG

Why Are Some Independent Schools Bucking the Recession?

21/03/2013 15:27 GMT | Updated 21/05/2013 10:12 BST

It would be easy to assume that as the recession continues to bite and households tighten their belts, the independent school sector might be suffering. However, there are many independent schools that are not only keeping their heads above water, they are positively thriving.

How are these schools increasing pupil numbers when the economic climate is so unpredictable?

Undoubtedly the reputation of a school is a strong factor in its success at attracting a healthy rate of applications. Parents wanting to invest in their child's education might turn to an institution with a history of excellence or a good track record on academic results - particularly if they are having to sacrifice a little more in order to do so. But even heads of the highest performing schools know that it is not always enough to rely on reputation alone.

The success of many of the top fee-paying schools at keeping pupil numbers climbing can also be attributed to their keen understanding of the marketplace and the focus on meeting the ever changing needs of parents and families.

Using the latest technology, these schools will monitor and analyse their pupil admissions to identify where pupils are coming from and use this information to inform decisions around the summer recruitment campaign.

Many heads are also finding that parents are quite rightly demanding more from their schools than ever before. Yes, academic results are important, but parents increasingly want private schooling to provide their child with a range of opportunities to discover new interests, meet new people and shine outside the classroom.

That's why schools need to shout about their success in sport and ensure they explore every possibility for generating press coverage, whether this is locally, nationally or online. Drama productions and music recitals can also be a great opportunity for the school to showcase its talent.

There are many parents who are not aware of how accessible a private education can be. When household budgets are under strain, the availability of bursaries could make all the difference for some families and schools need to get the message across to parents that an independent school might be more affordable than they think.

So while the economy remains in a fragile state and financial experts debate the likelihood of a triple dip recession, the challenges facing independent schools are the same as they are for any other business in a climate of fiscal turbulence. And the recipe for success is just as relevant to both - know your market and adapt to stay ahead.