How to Increase Student Enrolment in my School?

Community Development and Stakeholder Voice.

What is community development?

Essentially, our school improvement, community development focuses on creating community links that extend learning beyond the school gates.

Who’s included in a school community?

A school community typically refers to anyone who has an invested interest in the welfare and success of a school organisation and its students. This can include administrators, teachers, staff members, parents, families, community members, local business leaders and elected officials, such as board members, councillors and politicians. Feeder schools such as nurseries and primaries also feature heavily within the school community as this ultimately leads to healthy intake numbers for your schools, academies and multi-academy trusts (MAT’s). The school community can also feature collective entities, such as local businesses, organisations, advocacy groups, committees, media outlets and cultural institutions. Additionally, organisations that represent specific groups, such as teachers unions, parent-teacher organisations and other school feeder organisations are included.

Why is community development important?

Engaging communities can take up a lot of time, but it is essential that schools, academies and multi-academy trusts focus on this area so that they can understand the diversity of their students and families and provide a positive and welcoming environment for all. Encouraging pupils to participate in the wider life of their communities both inside and outside of school, encourages the development of a proactive and responsible attitude in pupils and enables the school to be seen as part of the everyday development of the community.

Why we think community development is important.

At Castles Education, we believe it’s really important to recognise that we are catering to a generation of parents who are social-media active, tech-savvy, app-driven and are living very busy lives. Letters don’t always get home, messages are lost along the way and working hours are harder to predict.

Traditional parents’ evenings can be a great way to touch base with parents, but we know that it’s not always possible for some parents to attend due to work, family and other commitments, not to mention the fact that they only take place once or twice a year.

What is stakeholder voice?

Stakeholder voice is the process of consulting anyone who has a ‘stake’ in your school. This consultation process should provide qualitative and quantitative data that enables you to explore ways of improving the experience that you currently offer. Activities can include:

• Wider-reaching surveys.

• Visits and development work to feeder schools.

• Parents can provide their responses to OFSTED’s Parent View. This provides a summary of the views of parents. The website can be found at; https://parentview.ofsted.gov.uk.

• Drop in Clinics: Headteacher / Safeguarding / Anti-Bullying Clinic.

• The Pupil Leadership Team (PLT), prefects and school councils.

• Small group interviews / individual interviews.

• Whole-class discussions with the main points recorded.

• Wider-reaching surveys.

• Post boxes where pupils can anonymously post their ideas/responses.

• Displayed graphs/charts/poster where pupils can record their assessment of a lesson/an aspect of a lesson/their learning.

• Parent Teacher Associations (PTA’s).

How engaging the community can impact your school?

Intake numbers can quickly become issues for schools, academies and Multi Academy Trusts, especially if external influences are perceived negatively on your organisation by the community. Therefore, the importance of developing existing and building new relationships with senior stakeholders at nursery, primary and secondary schools, as well as related education-focused organisations, can help foster a rise in intake numbers and provide you with the much-needed support during difficult times. Having a community behind you will always ensure that your intake numbers will stay healthy. If working within a secondary context, having your staff regularly work in primary schools and asking primary school children to attend events regularly is crucial to intake number development.

At Castles Education, we believe that creating community links and extending learning beyond the school gates are essential in the growth, development and wellbeing of pupils and schools. Ensuring parents are better informed about what’s going on in schools and getting information to them in a timely manner is a key area when wanting to develop a successful school. This is because community development deepens the quality of the relationships that exist between pupils, parents, staff and the community. It is easier for schools to realise progress when the people affected by the changes are involved in the process.

Community development and stakeholder voice can help to achieve change in a more collaborative way, building positive relationships, which in turn allows schools, academies and MAT’s to understand and respond to key issues and challenges surrounding their community and benefits teachers within the classroom. Research shows that positive and inclusive school environments lead to better academic results, increased confidence, higher intake numbers and improved attendance at school. By working together as a learning community in a spirit of mutual discovery, schools can ensure they are better equipped to find acceptable and workable solutions.

How can we help?

We have a wealth of experience in leading schools, academies and Multi Academy Trusts towards the achievement of their mission and aims within the community. In most cases, this has helped schools to increase their intake numbers year on year. Our support can be done through a range of measures, including wellbeing surveys, school action plans and working with school business managers and external partners.

We will initially undertake a full assessment alongside a review of any plans your school may have. We will work closely with you on site to devise new strategies for international links, community engagement, participation and transition. We will focus on raising the profile of the school both nationally and internationally.

At Castles, we can help develop a carefully thought out strategic plan for pupil and parent voice by initiating innovative strategies to maximise participation and then evaluate their effectiveness. This includes more convenient methods to communicate with all parents and external partners, such as feeder primary schools. Our strategies include social media, website, marketing and events, shifting the focus of regular communication towards learning and praise and opening the doors and celebrate the work that you do in classrooms, taking parents, carers and the community on the journey too.

Contact Dean on 0161 914 9185 to discuss these issues further and how they apply to your school.

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