A school’s values and ethos are an important part of a parent’s experience when applying to a school. At any stage in a child’s education, it is key for a school to communicate what it is trying to inspire in its students and the ways in which this shapes who they are. But while you may often reflect on how to instil those values into your existing school community, one area you might have overlooked is the admissions process.

It stands to reason that your values and ethos should shine through during the admissions process. The early stages of this process are in part concerned with making sure that students will be a good fit for your school, and values are integral to this objective.

In the initial stages of the admissions process, it is therefore important to ensure that parent and school values are aligned. With that in mind, how are you communicating your school’s values to parents when they make their initial visit, and in any pre- or post-visit contact? How about further down the line, during the application process? What impression are you giving parents at these early stages, and does this impression accurately reflect your messaging?

‘Warm and Welcoming’

Perhaps the most obvious example of this is the idea of creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere. You are unlikely to encounter many schools who do not cite being welcoming, supportive and inclusive as key values. But does your admissions process reflect this at every potential touchpoint? For instance:

  • Is the tone of your written (and verbal) communication to parents warm and friendly?
  • Do parents and students feel welcome during school visits? What do you do to emphasise this?
  • Do they leave the visit with a clear understanding of your school’s flexibility to support them as an individual? How else do you enhance or communicate your inclusivity?
  • Is what you ask parents to complete easy to understand and follow?

Of course, these early stages are as much a chance for you to get a sense of whether a student is a good fit for your school as they are for parents to feel welcome and check if your values align with theirs. So what information can give you an idea of a student’s fit, and is your admissions process designed in a way that highlights this? Does the admissions process leave both parties with a clear understanding of whether the student would be best supported in your school?

Overall, as an open and caring school, it is worth asking yourself whether or not you are taking a holistic approach to your admissions process. You might also have demographic considerations, such as whether or not you prioritise sibling applications to promote a community culture, or whether you focus more on diversity with nationality caps.

There will always be a fine balance between focusing on the ethos of the school and the practicalities of academics, support and capacity. For example, as an inclusive school you may do what you can to try to admit a student into the final year of a two-year programme, but ultimately it may not always be possible due to a number of factors. However, you can always be proactive by taking the initiative to support every student as best as you can, and by being open and transparent with the family at each stage.

To learn more about how schools can ascertain best fits, market and recruit for their school, reserve your place at the OpenApply Virtual Admissions Conference which takes place on March 16-18 2022.

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