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What makes a school prospectus good?

(17 Posts)
barcroft Fri 22-Nov-13 17:55:28

My DD's school is changing its prospectus and is asking the PTA what they think of simplifying the design and making it more about an extra-curricular rather than an academic focus, with less text and more "grabby" photos.

For me the prospectus didn't clinch the deal as to whether I would register or not (it's an independent selective school) but I am wondering what to respond with. Have you ever seen a really good one?

Any ideas welcome grin

Talkinpeace Fri 22-Nov-13 17:59:29

for a start, the best place for a prospectus is online as a PDF
so full colour is no longer a problem,
nor is plenty of information over lots of pages

I do find it quite shocking that many prep schools see fit to name the pupils and where they go on to school - but I guess parents have given permission

breadth and make sure that everything you say is checkable online because people WILL

Lonecatwithkitten Fri 22-Nov-13 18:07:33

The best one I have seen is an e-prospectus where you choose the aspects of the school you are interested in and then it is formulated and e-mailed to you as a PDF. For example I was looking at junior entry into year 6 and then lower school and DD is really into music and drama. This is the information I got, so nothing about 6th form.

GetMeOut Fri 22-Nov-13 21:16:04

For me, it's not about the prospectus at all, but all about the website. I have spent more time looking at and reading these than anything else ( plus the Good Schools Guide. ). I'm actually interested in the day to day activities of the school, what's going on and how this is communicated. For example , for one perspective school, I signed up to receive the Headmaster's weekly newsletter , which I could do even though I was not a current parent. It gave me a fantastic feel of the school, what was going on and the ethos of the leadership and I received it for a year before I enrolled my DS.
Also, full stats, leavers destination ( very important and I would fully expect to see this ) should be easily available on a website . I was actually massively interested in 6 th form ( if going 'all the way through' because that's the end game really. I'm not going to be interested in a school unless they can deliver in the 6th form - and again I'm looking at offer numbers, types of courses accepted ( eg law v media studies , no offence ) as well as actually colleges and universities.
I'm also interested in extra curricular activities and other enrichment activities, as well as subjects offered at Gcse and a level.

All this info could be in a prospectus as well of course ! wink

Talkinpeace Fri 22-Nov-13 21:25:56

Its true : there is nothing more offputting than going to a school website, clicking on "news" and nothing is less than three months out of date .....

even the cheap stuff like term dates and exam dates (all otherwise available public info) should be on there

all else implies that the website / external communication
is an afterthought, not integral

DCs school is on twitter and FB : which on snow days is a godsend as the message comes out before 7am and the teachers set work from home by 8am

and as a sideways point, 7 years ago DCs school had a catastrophic fire in one building so that they were closed for 6 weeks.
Using the internet and selective use of rooms, the GCSEs did not drop that year ....

how would your school cope with that ....

so, to get back to OP
the old style printed prospectus is irrelevant,
it should be part of the website

senua Fri 22-Nov-13 22:49:05

making it more about an extra-curricular rather than an academic focus

What an appalling idea. Any prospective parent seeing that would think that the school was trying to brush the academics under the carpet because they are embarrassing and below par. It's not either/or, it's both - you talk about academic and extra-curricular.
Breakdown of exam results (subject by subject, grade by grade, over several years) and destinations of leavers is the most important information, along with added-value / data dashboard type stuff.

barcroft Fri 22-Nov-13 23:17:43

The Head explained that the school is already known as highly academic, so is considering going down a more alternative route to show off everything else ss parebts want evidence of a more rounded education. I am in two minds about this.

HowManyDaysUntilChristmas Sat 23-Nov-13 08:56:19

Sorry, but if a prospectus was glossing over the academics, regardless of its reputation, I would be worried there was a reason, e.g. standards were falling.

Xochiquetzal Mon 25-Nov-13 04:16:14

The Head explained that the school is already known as highly academic I can see where the heads coming from with that but would a parent who is new to the area or had no reason to look at schools before know that? The extra curricular stuff is important but not at the expense of glossing over the academics.

barcroft Mon 25-Nov-13 11:24:29

The current prospectus has the exam results and leavers' destinations as an insert in the back, and has only a small amount of text, mainly about the school ethos and then divided into sections e.g. pre-prep, prep, senior etc. explaining how the teaching/curriculum is advanced and some testimonials. It's very skills-based so you can see how children develop all the way through.

Finally at the end there's some nice photos of extra-curriculars and a list of sports, music activities and clubs.

Would this be the kind of prospectus that would appeal?

Londinium Mon 25-Nov-13 16:08:54

Hate school prospectuses. Waste of money and go straight to recycling. Postage astronomical and waste of fees/ tax payers' money.Online stats news etc v.much more important. Front page on website and easy navigation both vital. Same as an interview situation people have an immediate reaction within seconds so school needs to decide who it wants to attract to its USP.

Talkinpeace Mon 25-Nov-13 16:56:15

A good website is better than any glossy brochure nowadays

Xochiquetzal Tue 26-Nov-13 02:36:21

yes that's the kind of prospectus that would appeal to me, but as others have said the websites really important too.

senua Tue 26-Nov-13 08:31:17

The current prospectus has the exam results and leavers' destinations as an insert in the back

Ah, that could be slightly different. I could see the point of (what is, effectively) a glossy folder: something generic, that you could order in a large print run, that would stand for several years. You then have (cheap, self-printed) handouts which have more detailed, current information.

I still think that "grabby" photos are not the way to go. You want "grabby" inspirational writing about ethos and purpose; about the USP. The photos should be illustrations, not the main thrust. Besides which, they are a bit clichéd these days: lab coats & safety goggles<tick> the winning try<tick> short skirts on the netball court <tick> prizegiving <tick> visiting dignitary <tick> Yawn.

Seeline Tue 26-Nov-13 09:42:59

I'm old fashioned - I like a proper prospectus grin However, I do alot of web-site examining too so agree with the others that these need to be really up-to-date with as much info as possible. That is where you get all the info on extra-curricular activities in particular.
I hate prospectuses (prospectii??) that are full of glossy pictures and not much else - a complete waste of paper and money. They need to tell you the facts.
Eg basics like what subjects are studied each year, daily timetable and hours, what options are available at GSCE/A- level, number on roll and class numbers. Also essential easy to understand figures on exam results eg not just %age of A*s but how many students took each exam. Clear info on leavers destinations including how many in the year, how many going to uni etc.

AChickenCalledKorma Tue 26-Nov-13 19:55:44

I loved the prospectus for DD1's secondary school. Plenty of pictures showing the breadth of what the school offers, but also lots of real information about how they do things.

But the thing I liked most was that - although the pictures were generally quite glossy, they did look like real students actually doing what they do. And inside the back cover was a picture of three lads strolling along. One of them had his shirt untucked and a big grin on his face. I was attracted by the fact the school didn't obsess about the shirt tail and let a lovely picture go into the prospectus smile

barcroft Tue 26-Nov-13 21:19:44

These are all really helpful, thanks so much.

I imagine we'll go for a compromise between trying not to be too text-heavy and including lots of photos, but not the cliched ones.

We'll save the text for the website, if the school can get all the info up on there (should be easier than in a prospectus - and cheaper!)

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