With the International school market continuing to show no signs of slowing down, how do new schools opening ensure they fill their classes with students? And what about existing schools in areas where new schools are popping up? How do they ensure that they can protect their customer base and keep students, and more importantly, parents happy?
In the latest of our Insight series blogs, we discuss the ways schools can look to differentiate from their competition as well as whether they need to worry about new competition.
Differentiation: a vital strategy to ensuring success
International schools are a business, albeit one with the ultimate aim of educating and inspiring the next generation. At the end of the day, it’s not a short-term decision to build a school from scratch, staff it with the best teachers and recruit hundreds of students.
There are large costs involved. Whether it’s time spent researching the perfect location or money spent building facilities and infrastructure. And as with all businesses, the key to long-term success is being able to effectively differentiate from your competition.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines differentiation as ''the process of becoming or making something different.'' Put simply, how is your new school going to be different than those schools already established within the local community?
Endless opportunities to make your school different
At the end of the day, there’s no perfect way to run an International school. The differentiation options available to International schools are therefore almost endless. One route available is the partnership route whereby relationships are established with a leading British school brand or an established local business. This route offers the benefits of using a well-known brand name to advertise and attract attention for the school.
Another option is to look at the facilities that you’ll offer. Will you look to be a highly specialised technology school? What about creating the best science laboratories in the area? Or perhaps you choose to focus on your sporting facilities and create a sports hub?
One school that recently opened and took this exact approach is Richmond Park school in Madrid. With over 70 International schools already operating across Madrid, the management at Richmond Park knew they needed to do things differently. Their design concept revolved around creating a modern school, located on one site, which provides the best learning spaces with particular importance given to new technologies, sports and arts.
An opportunity to review, develop and improve
With over 300 International schools scheduled to open over the next few years, the pressure on existing schools will only increase. However, rather than seeing this as a negative, existing schools should look to this as an opportunity.
With an increased focus from parents around the services on offer, it gives you a chance to review your existing proposition and highlight areas for potential improvement. In addition to analysing what you are currently doing, it also gives you the ability to develop new value added services and options. Whilst most schools constantly review their offering, the potential of a new rival school opening in their neighborhood can often be the spur to change. And surely changes made for the better can only be to the benefit of all?
If you’re looking to open a new International school or simply want to update and improve your existing environment, we’re here to help. We’ve worked with International schools across the world, designing new facilities and supplying innovative resources. Get in touch with our team to find out more.