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Positioning an independent school in a crowded market

Positioning an independent school in a crowded market

Independent School Marketing Series

Brand is really just another word for “reputation.” Your school’s brand is the sum of facts and emotions that come to the minds of your audiences (students, parents, staff, alumni, and others) when they hear or read about your school.

Communicating a clear brand will help your school be understood by, and attractive to the right group of students and families, and increase the likelihood that they will choose your school, stay loyal to it, and support it now and over time.

Positioning has long been acknowledged as a core branding activity. It is the act of designing your school’s offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the target market's mind.

The positioning decision is often the crucial strategic decision for a school’s marketing because the position can be central to perception and choice decisions. An independent school that has a distinct position is able to convey to prospective parents and students its features and what it stands for.

The challenge for independent schools is to not just fill open slots, but to compete for students who are a good fit for the school’s pedagogical values, its policies and individual nuances, personality, and attitude toward learning styles.

Today’s parents are busy. Many are unavailable during school contact hours, are confused by enrolment processes and overwhelmed with choice to find the right ‘fit’ – single sex or mixed, religious or non-denomination, accelerated learning, International Baccalaureate, VET, weekend sport or not – they're all in the mix for today's families.

It can be hard for prospective families to understand the sometimes-subtle differences between the schools they are considering. So many schools tend to use similar language to describe themselves. People want to know the truth about what makes your school special.

Your profile on School Places helps parents understand what makes your school unique, and the right fit for their child. Our Customer Service team act like an extension of your school’s enrolment function, representing the school in a knowledgeable and informed way through details gleaned directly from your Admissions and Marketing departments. With a purpose-built backend that presents Customer Service with detailed notes on the school, we ensure that we are well equipped to present your school in the best possible light.

On School Places your school can articulate the Three P’s

There are three dimensions by which you can distinguish your school from others: prestige, pedagogy, and personality. We will work with your school to clearly understand your school’s position in the community in regard to these three P’s.


Has your school been around for over a century, graduating political leaders and heads of industry or well-known artists and writers? Or is your school on the cutting edge of the latest theories on education? Do most of your graduates go to Go8 universities? Does your school urge students to accomplish great things even while they are still in school, like sporting excellence, touring with an orchestra, publishing a book, or making a significant contribution to charity?


What kind of education does your school provide - traditional or progressive? Is your school a model for a certain pedagogical approach? Are students guided by discovery, working together collaboratively? Each child learns differently, so matching children’s learning styles to the right teaching styles is critical. Parents need to understand how your school would or would not support their children’s most successful form of learning.


Personality matters, and can be the most appealing dimension on which a family chooses one school over another. You have the option to showcase testimonials from parents, students and the school community

It is an emotional decision for a parent to select a school for their child. For many School Places parents academic ranking is just one factor in their choice. They turn to us seeking a school that provides opportunities for their children to build their confidence and self-esteem, that motivates and encourages their children to learn and promotes positive attitudes – as well as h4 results.

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