It was very insightful leading the research of international school admissions directors and school marketing leaders for the new white paper that ISC Research has just published.
The data and intelligence in the white paper is representative of a range of interviews and surveys with senior admissions and marketing senior staff at a wide breadth of international schools conducted by the field research team towards the end of 2020.
The impact of COVID-19 has resulted in parents making additional demands on their child’s school including many seeking schools that offer structured student wellbeing provision, rigorous distance learning, and comprehensive sanitisation and health and safety protocols. This is outlined in more detail in the white paper: Why parents select an international school, and the impact of COVID-19 on school choice.
Impact of COVID-19 on school selection and application
Open days, both physical and virtual, have been more successful for attracting prospective parents during the past 12 months. 14% of my research base said they are having the most impact, compared to 8% in previous years. Those schools that are investing in a highly impactful virtual open day are seeing very good results.
41% of those I researched told me that social media remains the most popular route for engaging new prospective parents. However, one traditionally important route to admission engagement that has severely suffered due to COVID-19 is school fairs. 66% said that recommendations via word of mouth remains the top source of their admissions applications.
Wellbeing, online learning and other questions parents ask
Parents have been increasingly discerning in their school decision-making for several years and none more so that this school year. Several new questions are being asked of admissions departments that have rarely been asked in the past.
According to 84% of my survey group, parents are now asking about online learning provision for times when school campuses may be closed or when a child is required to learn from home, considering it either important or very important in their decision-making. And a staggering 96% said that parents now believe student wellbeing provision to be an important or very important factor in their school choice. Everyone said that parents now consider health and safety provision, including sanitisation and social distancing protocols, to be important or very important when selecting a school for their child.
It was also interesting to hear that parents are now enquiring more about parent-teacher contact opportunities, and fee payment options that give them more flexibility.
Selecting a school
As demand for international schools has increased amongst a wider demographic, so there are more reasons why parents seek out an international school in preference to other school types. These reasons are explored in the white paper including the language of learning, the value of native culture and mother tongue, curriculum, quality standards, pathways to global higher education, extra-curricular provision and fee points.
You can download the white paper here.