Case study: Increase pupil numbers with a targeted marketing strategy

Rural schools frequently struggle with funding and many are fighting to stay viable. Here’s how one rural academy trust used marketing to increase pupil numbers by 20% - and, as a result, boost its school’s income.

Last reviewed on 14 January 2022
School types: All · School phases: All
Ref: 34029
  1. Why should we focus on marketing?
  2. Before you begin
  3. Work out what your community wants
  4. Make sure your provision backs up your message
  5. Appeal to parents outside your catchment area 
  6. Communicate regularly with families
  7. Seek feedback from your community

Chulmleigh College, a rural secondary school in Devon, significantly increased its pupil numbers and boosted its per-pupil funding by 20% by taking a new approach to marketing. Below, we explain how it did this.

Reference to commercial providers in this article does not constitute an endorsement from The Key.

Why should we focus on marketing?

School funding is strongly tied to pupil numbers, which can leave schools with small pupil numbers struggling to cover their fixed costs.

Chulmleigh Academy Trust found that: 

  • Its funding didn’t cover the fixed costs associated with running a small rural school
  • Projected numbers of children in the school catchment areas weren’t high enough to match the budget forecasts

The trust used the strategy set out below to boost pupil numbers in its secondary school, Chulmleigh College, with a final goal of having 600 pupils enrolled.

Forecast your budget and pupil numbers for the