MARKETING YOUR SIXTH FORM

Sixth Formers. They’re so grown up aren’t they? No longer innocent young pupils studying for their GCSEs. They’ve chosen their own subjects. They have free periods - such independence! Some of them even wear their own clothes: no uniform nonsense, no Siree. Actually, if they had their way there’d be no Sir at all for some of them: first name terms with the teachers now that they are ADULTS!!

Jokes aside - Sixth Formers ARE young adults. So when you are looking to market your Sixth Form and recruit new people to your courses, it is the students you are now talking to, not just the parents. And your marketing needs to reflect that.

Don’t lump it in with your main school marketing - treat your Sixth Form separately, and target your audience right. What do Sixth Formers want? To study a great course, yes. To know they will be treated with respect and autonomy. To see a career or further education path that they want to follow. To be with like-minded peers.

What must be maximised in any case of a School Sixth Form recruitment strategy is the development of personal relationships with each and every potential Sixth Former in years 10 and 11. Start by doing some research with your existing students (hopefully you already have but hey, if not, let’s start now). Ask them what they were looking for out of their Sixth Form, and what they wanted to avoid. See where else they considered studying and look into what add-ons those colleges provided. Ask where they get their information from. (Clue: it won’t be the local paper. That’s for their parents.)

When you have this information, you can match it with all the wonderful things your Sixth Form provides and market it right - through the right channels…..

1)      Social media.

You will already have social channels but if you haven’t already, you do need a separate feed for your Sixth Form. Consider having students host it for a day to recruit new followers. Ensure you have LOTS of visuals to demonstrate how good the Sixth Form is. Include heaps of information about where students go AFTER their A Levels. Twitter, Instagram and Facebook will all be helpful.

2)      In the school.

If the Sixth Form is currently up to strength through recruitment from the School year 11, there is very little need for external recruitment and marketing spend can be minimised. Any School with a sixth form however, should look to develop and maintain Year 10 and 11 liaison – it’s a whole School responsibility after all. Subject-led and centred cohort recruitment is a must, as well as more mention of sixth form lower at Key Stage 3. Communicate all the enrichment and higher education and employment opportunities and really demonstrate the positives of Sixth Form life throughout the school: through verbal, visual and written tools.

3)      Word of mouth.

Nothing is more effective that a like-minded individual telling you something is good. Your Sixth Form needs ambassadors from the existing year and past alumni. Existing ambassadors should see this as something good for their own CV, so challenge them to promote the college in a new way and inspire them by giving them (a bit of) control. Bring recent alumni back to talk to the Fifth Formers about how the Sixth Form led them to their great Uni course or job. Hold open evenings, where the potential students can have one on ones with teachers.

4)      Family.

Don’t forget, most of them will still be living with their parents. So do still target those local papers with the success stories. Do still spread the word via Facebook (you can target your audience so well on there, so consider Facebook advertising).  Do promote the range of opportunities in letters home and in parents’ evening.

They may be grown ups and they might not admit it, but they still need a little guidance. That’s where the right marketing can help. So give us a call or drop us a line!

John BrennanComment