Don’t fail students by neglecting local expertise

Dr Peter Spence

Dr Peter Spence has worked in educational advancement for more than two decades, raising millions of pounds in the process for schools and universities. He founded Holistic Educational Marketing and Fundraising to help the state school sector benefit from the same process. Call 01904 215615 for more information.

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Image credit: Flickr // stevendepolo. Image credit: Flickr // stevendepolo.

The African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” expresses the universal truth that the responsibility for child-rearing rests with the broader community and not just the parents. Yet within many schools, this adage is neglected. Parents are perceived as being prone to unhelpful interventions, previous generations of students are abandoned, and local businesses are ignored.

Parents want to give their child the best possible start in life, and at many Primary schools this affinity is cultivated. Yet in Secondary schools, where parents are often overlooked, parental support can make a huge difference. They can offer careers “Parental support can make a huge difference.”advice, give talks to clubs and societies, assist with work placements, and so on. And yet they are usually ignored. In fact, I collaborated with one school and spoke with a parent who had offered three times to speak about a career in law, but his offer was never taken up.

Graduates will overwhelmingly have positive memories of their former school (even Primary schools). As well as bringing the same set of skills as parents, your alumni can act as compelling role models for your current pupils. “She did it, so can I!” They have a natural fondness for their alma mater which can easily be nurtured.

Local and regional businesses value education highly, knowing that an educated workforce is essential for their success. They can offer career advice, work placements and many other staffing resources. Many headteachers do think about approaching local corporates, but make the mistake of assuming that they are the equivalent of Theresa May’s “money tree”. CEOs do not sit on a mountain of cash to give away.

If a village is to succeed in raising a child, the villagers must share a common vision and aspiration. So how can this apply to a school community?

If you are to succeed in bringing the power of your parents, your alumni and your local business leadership to help your school, you will “If you want the village’s support, you have to accept their feedback.”need to share your vision with them. Tell them what you would like to accomplish and encourage them to embrace your vision. Critically, take their suggestions on board. If you want the village to support you, you have to accept their views and feedback as well. Done properly, with an effective communications and social media strategy, a compelling aspiration for the future, and a shared determination to succeed, you will achieve far more than you could ever have imagined.

Not only will your school benefit hugely from a purposeful and engaged volunteer community; it is inevitable that members of this community will offer donations to help you to succeed. In fact, a growing volume of donations is a very accurate barometer of your engagement strategy’s success.

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