Focusing on the benefits valued by parents etc. rather than a list of the school’s features is important. You can read more about that in an earlier article. You should not assume that what you value is the same as what parents value. So how do you find out what those values are?
Small Focus Groups to Establish Parents’ Criteria
Start by investing time in small focus groups. Invite a few parents/carers to a neutral venue to discuss these types of questions:
- What do you believe it is important to consider when choosing a school for your child or grandchild?
- Which of those would you view as the most important in deciding which school to select?
Invitees to the focus groups should be drawn from a range of users:
- parents who have recently had children join the school;
- those searching for a school;
- parents whose children are in the last year of the school;
- estate agents to identify what parents ask them about schools in the area.
The invitees above should provide a cross section of ages and potentially differing perspectives.
In addition, you should hold focus groups for a cross section of children in the school to establish what they value especially those who have joined recently and those who are in the final year and may be more reflective about what they now value about their school.
Avoid Bias in Collating the Feedback
Identifying their views is not easy as they will need help to open up about what they truly value. Collating those views and then establishing the common values can be difficult and carries the risk that you may allow your views to influence the sifting of the data. Remain objective throughout or arrange for a third party to undertake the discussion and collation stages.
A survey may be helpful but that should either be preceded or followed up by focus groups, as above, to explore the issues in more detail and to gain a real sense of which values are more important to parents/carers.
The results can then be used to help you to focus your promotion of the school in brochures, your web site, articles in local papers and in text provided to local estate agents and similar services.
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