How to design a good school prospectus
A good quality, well-written school prospectus is an important piece of collateral for a school to attract and recruit new students. In this article, we will answer some key questions and provide important tips for designing a prospectus for your school that helps you stand out.
Why is a school prospectus important?
A school prospectus provides an opportunity to showcase your school to prospective students and their parents. School principals use the prospectus to highlight the:
- academic record of the school
- school’s curriculum
- school’s facilities
- school’s extra-curricular programme
- structures to support students with emotional, learning or behavioural needs
- The unique culture of their school.
A good school prospectus has to be engaging, should address the specific requirements for the parents and create excitement for the students to become a part of your school.
What should a school prospectus contain?
The prospectus is an opportunity to highlight information that will play a key role in effectively selling your school to the parents and prospective students. It typically contains the following information:
- Principal’s message
- A short history of the school
- Mission, values, culture or ethos of the school
- Junior Cycle
- Leaving Certificate
- Transition Year
- Leaving Certificate Vocational
- Leaving Certificate Applied
- Use of technology to support learning
- School facilities
- Creative arts
- School supports/Pastoral Care
- School awards
- Parents’ voice/associations
- Student voice and leadership
- Supporting quotations from pupils, past pupils, parents and teachers
- Past pupils/progression
- School contact information – School logo
The prospectus is designed to visually connect with the school’s colours and to support the visual identity of the school. The most compelling prospectuses are usually very visual. They make it easy for the reader to get an overall impression of the school, its achievements and its culture by perusing the prospectus.
Generally speaking, it is considered best practice not to include policy documents in a school prospectus. They are probably best communicated via the school website or in some other document.
How to plan for creating a school prospectus
Creating a prospectus can seem like a daunting task. One of the key things is to start the process early and give yourself plenty of time. We suggest the following timeline:
- Four to six weeks for you to write the content
- Two to three weeks for the design process
- Two weeks for print.
This means that you should start working on the prospectus, at least three months in advance of when you need it ready and it will have to be sent for print at least two weeks before that date. Sometimes schools produce their prospectus in a rush, which can affect the quality of visual and written content that gets published.
If you break down the work and complete it by focusing on one section at a time, you will find that it is quite manageable. All the content you need is already available in the form of different collateral the school produces, it is just a matter of structuring it.
How to write a school prospectus
A high quality, well-written prospectus that communicates the value you offer as a school is key to convincing parents to invest in their child’s education with you. We would suggest you develop your school prospectus as follows:
- Begin by creating a Table of Contents
- Engage all stakeholders to develop content ideas - teachers, pupil and parents can give very good insights into what should be communicated about your school that they value
- Write the content for each section
- Develop or source visuals - decide on the type of photographs to support each section. For example, if your school has a strong history of sporting success, you might want to have an image to communicate this. It is important to carefully select photographs that communicate the cultural diversity and inclusivity of your school. It is advisable to always take professional photographs.
- Get your prospectus professionally designed - give the content and photographs to an experienced and credible supplier with information on the school’s brand guidelines, preferences, etc.
- Proofread your prospectus before print - when you are happy with the layout and design, have the prospectus independently and professionally proofread. This is really important and a step that should never be overlooked.
- Print and also publish an electronic copy on your website
4Schools have produced prospectuses for over 100 schools in Ireland. We are highly experienced at supporting school principals through the prospectus creation process. If you are thinking about creating a school prospectus, contact us today and we will be delighted to guide you through the process.
How to choose a school prospectus provider/developer?
Your prospectus is an important piece of collateral for the school that gives an initial impression about its quality and credibility. You would want to use a supplier that will get it right the first time and help you to leave a lasting impression with the parents and prospective students. Following are some tips to help you choose a school prospectus provider:
Experienced in working with schools
It is best to choose a provider that has an experience of producing prospectuses for schools similar to yours. When you do, you will find that the provider will be able to guide you through the process.
Supported by a Graphic Designer
The provider should have a dedicated graphic designer for your proje
Provide bespoke design
The company should commit to providing you with a bespoke design. Some companies offer template prospectuses which means that you will have little input into the layout of the design of the final product.
Offer additional services
Look at the additional services which the supplier provides. Will they provide:
- A soft-copy of the prospectus for your school website?
- Photography service for your school? Photographs are really important as they can communicate in an instance the key messages you want to convey.
- A proofreading service? Getting your prospectus independently and professionally proofread is important as it can be very embarrassing for a school when a simple typographical error appears in the final product.
Allow reasonable amount of revisions
Limitations on the number of updates during the design process. The best suppliers will work with you until you are completely happy. It is best to ensure they will provide a reasonable amount of revisions before you decide on a provider.
Provide a variety of styles, materials, sizes, shapes
It is best to work with a school prospectus provider that has a wide variety of alternative offerings for you. Your school is unique - your prospectus should communicate this to prospective students and their parents.
These are some of the key points to consider when choosing a potential school prospectus provider. 4 Schools have an experienced team of school prospectus developers that can offer advice and work with you to produce a bespoke prospectus that communicates the uniqueness and credibility of your school.