Have you ever picked up a magazine or brochure and been instantly drawn in by the feel of the cover, the smell of the pages and the inviting, vibrant photography?
Whether it’s a brochure for a new house, a glossy magazine advertising the latest products relating to your interests or a leaflet handed out at a trade show - the look and feel of the printed document is usually the first thing that draws your attention in.
Why do you need a prospectus for your school?
As a school, you are in the fortunate position that your audience are already invested in your offering; they are prospective parents who will ultimately need to decide on a school for their child(ren). They are browsing for a need, not a want. The challenge you face is ensuring that these parents decide to choose your school over your competitors.
Having a beautifully designed, well-written and high-quality printed prospectus provides the perfect opportunity to showcase your school to potential parents and students. You can use your prospectus to combine multiple pieces of information such as your ethos and values, your curriculum, your facilities and your individual strengths into one concise package that you know parents are more likely to interact with. They can then take this away with them, or receive it directly to their door if your school sends them out via the post, to read and digest at their leisure.
As more and more communication methods go down a digital avenue we know from conversations with schools that, in this instance, a physical prospectus is still one of the most sought after open day pieces of collateral that parents look to collect and read. This means that, as a school, you need to ensure that you have a fantastic prospectus to hand out that sells your school and gives prospective parents all the information they need to choose to decide to invest in their child’s education with you.
The most important things to consider when creating your perfect prospectus are:
Message and Tone
It's important to consider the way that you would like to convey your school through your new prospectus.
- Do you want to be seen as formal and traditional, or perhaps more modern and creative?
- Is there an overarching message that you want to send out to your prospective parents?
- Why, ultimately, should they choose to send their child to your school over another?
Once you’ve chosen the message you wish to portray and the tone you wish to adopt, the next thing you need to consider is the style you want to use to compliment and enhance these features.
- Do you want an information-heavy document that goes into lots of detail (20/24pp) or do you want a smaller, more concise document (8/12pp) that gives a flavour of your school but leaves them wanting to know more (either on your website, or via a visit)?
- Do you want large imagery and small paragraphs of text, a page of text next to an image or larger sections of text interspersed with the occasional image?
- Do you want bright imagery and bold accent colours, or are you looking for a more conventional take with natural looking imagery and a neutral colour palette?
- Do you want it to be A4, A5 or square?
- How about landscape or portrait?
Any of the above ideas are just suggestions, and they all can and will work well - but it depends entirely on the approach you wish to take, the time you have available and the content you want to include.
If you have your prospectus designed professionally, then your designer will be able to help you with these decisions, show you examples of previous work and discuss your ideas in more detail. If you have any inspirational designs that you have seen or styles you wish to emulate, make sure you share these examples during your consultation.
As they always say, a picture is worth a thousand words. If you are using photographs in printed materials then they have to be of a high enough pixel density and resolution that they can be enlarged and cropped without becoming blurred or pixelated.
We would always recommend having professional photography completed to ensure that the photos you wish to use are captured at the quality you require for print - unfortunately low quality images do not print well and can reduce the overall appearance of the final prospectus produced.
Before your designer starts work on mocking up your prospectus design, they will ideally need to have all of your content.
You can make small tweaks and proofs to your content throughout the design process but the designer will usually need the approximate word length of each section before starting. This is to ensure the words fit on the page correctly and have enough room for design elements and photography.
Doing a design visual prior to receiving content may mean that a page layout does not work, if they have allocated room for two paragraphs and you only have a few short sentences of content, or vice versa.
Your content should be authentic, engaging and portray your school in the best possible way. An introduction from the Headteacher is always a good place to start - it gives a chance for a personal greeting that can be written to speak directly to the prospective parent.
We would also encourage the use of quotes and testimonials throughout, either from existing or past parents, or from students themselves.
Some schools are happy to write all the content themselves - either individually or collaboratively whereas some prefer to employ the services of a copywriter to tie everything together.
Whichever approach you choose, make sure that all of your content flows from page to page and a consistent approach has been used throughout with regards to tone, tense and grammar.
The look and feel of your prospectus is one of the first things that a prospective parent will notice when they take a copy, so you want to make sure that it makes an impression.
- Do you want the cover to feel glossy and shiny, or would you prefer a matte texture?
- Have you considered using a luxurious soft-touch finish instead?
- Do you want the paper to feel thick and weighted or thin and light?
- Are you looking for a matte effect on the inner pages or would you prefer them to be silk? Or perhaps satin?
- Do you need a pocket to add in additional sheets of paper and handouts?
If it sounds a bit of a minefield, that’s not a problem at all - most companies will be able to advise you on the best options and send out samples so that you can feel for yourselves the different paper types and cover effects. They will also be able to use their experience to tell you what works well together and make alternative suggestions if they think there is something else which may work best for the effect you are trying to achieve. Don’t ever be afraid to ask for advice if you’re unsure.
Once you have decided on your finish, collated your content and finalised your design, the final thing to decide is how many copies of your beautiful prospectus you wish to have printed.
Usually, we recommend that the larger the amount you order, the more cost-effective the print run is in the long-term, as each new print batch will require the printers to set up the plates and machines specifically to your prospectus specifications and artwork. If you decide to order 500, 1000 or 2000+ in one go, the printers can then set everything up once to provide you with enough copies to last through several open days and enquiries.
It is of course entirely up to you and your budget how many you choose to purchase, but we recommend ensuring you have at least enough to hand out a copy to every parent at your open day - should they wish to take one.
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