Running a Private School

Get help and guidance on running a private school. Find guidance and resources related to administration, fundraising and marketing. Explore strategic plan development, creative fundraising ideas and the latest technology uses in marketing.
View the most popular articles in Running a Private School:
"Popular teacher murdered"
"Accusations of sex abuse at prestigious private school"
"Lavish expenditures on headmaster's house renovations"
I am not making these up. These are examples of incidents which have actually taken place at private schools. In the course of running any business things happen which can generate negative and unwanted publicity. A private school is a business. How you handle a crisis will have a huge impact on the future of your school.
It's a head of school's worst nightmare to read a story about something which happened at his school.
It's a parent's worst nightmare to read a story about something which happened in the school her children are attending.
It's a teacher's worst nightmare to be in the midst of the maelstrom which is the evolving story with all its investigations.
The Head of School
21st century heads of school know that they cannot simply circle the wagons and deny the existence of the story. A couple of decades ago when social media such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube email and blogs did not exist, the fortress mentality was how many heads handled tough situations. You expelled a few students, fired some staff and hopefully the matter was put to rest permanently. Not any more. Unfortunately smartphones flash photos, comments and opinions around the world in seconds. Your story better deal with all those reports. Effectively. Professionally.
Now when bad press appears, it takes on a life of its own. It is bad enough to see a column or two in a respected national journal such
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Have you ever thought about starting your own private school? There are a couple of reasons why you might be pondering a large scale project such as starting a private school. Perhaps you are discouraged by the lack of education options in your area and want to do something about it. Maybe you have a vision and philosophy of education which is ahead of the curve. Rudolf Steiner and Maria Montessori are examples of educators who established entire movements based on their teachings and philosophies. Or perhaps no school in your area is doing what you know and feel strongly is necessary and beneficial for young people. Many determined people have established private schools because they want to be able to include religious instruction in their curricula. These are just a few of the reasons why private schools get their start.
Separation of Church and State
Historically this has been one of the major reasons why private schools were established. Public schools legally cannot teach faith-based religion. So if you are a devout follower of your religion, you will probably want your children to have a thorough grounding in their faith. That's why 22,731 private schools are affiliated with a religion according to the data available from the Private School Universe Survey of the National Center for Educational Statistics. To put that number of schools in context the PSS shows that there were 33,366 private schools in the United States. Based on those statistics religious private schools constitute 68%
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A decade ago you spent a fortune on a gorgeous catalog and a couple of recruiting trips. Then you waited. If you had gotten your catalogs into the right hands and had a good turnout for your recruiting trips, you were in good shape. The applications came in hopefully in a three to one ratio. All was well.

That approach doesn't work very well today. Your demographics have changed. More and more of your target parents belong to Generation Y. They get their information from social media.

The diversity goals your school has require different approaches too. You need to extend the reach of your advertising campaigns by using social media which is easily shared. Your market has become more segmented and much more competitive. As the economic outlook makes the future look more and more uncertain parents are examining the educational foundations which their children will need in order to be successful in their adult lives.

The uncertain enconomy which has dogged us since 2008 causes financial concerns for both you and your school and your current and prospective families.

That's where social media comes in. Done well, social media will improve your admissions yield. Done consistently, social media can cement value in place in the minds of your target audience.

But remember: social media is still marketing. It requires planning and execution of that marketing plan to work. It cannot be a hit or miss approach. Neither can you leave your marketing
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The way we use social media in the private K-12 school setting is a bit different from the way social media is used by businesses. Businesses are looking to develop a client list from their social media efforts. They need clients in order to sell them their products and services. Private schools, on the other hand, seek to promote their community with a view to attracting new families and students. Let's look at some more differences and also some strategies and techniques which will help make your school's social media program successful.
Dedicate resources to social media.
My first bit of advice is simple but really quite necessary: devote some resources to your social media program. Your school's web site used to be the only front door your school had. It was the first thing people saw. Now it is the first thing parents or anybody over the age of 40 will see. Facebook and YouTube are your new front doors for folks under the age of 30. This video gives you a comprehensive overview of social media and what it can do for your school.
You have never been casual about creating your catalog, have you? Remember catalogs? Your catalog and other printed materials which you give to prospective families are always professionally produced, aren't they? They also cost a fortune, don't they? Your social media deserves the same professional approach. Therefore be sure to allocate staff time and money in your operating budget for social
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In this overview of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for private schools we take a look at what your readers see each time they visit your web site. SEO for Private Schools - Part 1 explained some of the elements of SEO which have to happen behind the curtain. Now we are focused on the exterior or what your readers see and experience.  


What is your message? If you don't have a message, then how can your readers determine whether your school is a good fit for them and their requirements? I can hear you saying "Parents have to visit our school in order to truly understand what it is we do." That's true, but in this age of instant answers, parents make snap decisions based on their perceptions and first impressions.

So, right there on your first page or Splash Page as it is called, you need to make sure your message appears. Let me give you an example: One of the things a reader will see first is the Title Bar at the top left of his bowser. That's one place where what you do behind the curtain with meta tags is actually visible to your reader. Take a look at Andover's web site to see how this works. As soon as the page comes up the title in the top left corner identifies Andover as an independent boarding school. If that's not the kind of school you are
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Running a Private School


Here you'll find information on the administrative side of running a private school. We'll cover strategic plan development, state regulations, human resources and school safety. Learn more about the obstacles of taking over a struggling school, get tips on hiring a headmaster, and receive expert advice on dealing with bad press.


Private schools often need to be creative when it comes to funding. This section provides tools, tips and resources on fundraising. Learn more about supporting your school, how to handle major gifts, and why keeping in touch with graduates can benefit your budget.

Marketing and Technology

Advances in technology have changed the way businesses market themselves. This section provides tips on social media marketing, information on the latest technology being used and SEO basics for private schools.