Project Description

Manchester High School for GirlsThe most successful schools are constantly considering how to sustain and enhance pupil recruitment – and Manchester High School for Girls is no exception. MTM were approached by Lucy Barnwell, the school’s Director of Development and Marketing, to check on Manchester High’s performance in its current market and to identify new territory to target. The results gave Lucy and her team some food for thought.

Just under a thousand girls aged four to 18 attend Manchester High School for Girls, following in the footsteps of some extremely impressive alumnae over the school’s 150-year history, from Sylvia and Christabel Pankhurst to the first woman bishop in the Church of England, the first woman chief cashier of the Bank of England, the vice president of Facebook EMEA, and the Principal Engineer at the European Space Agency.

The school doesn’t rest on its laurels however, and Director of Development and Marketing Lucy Barnwell is keen to make sure that admissions stay healthy, in order to secure Manchester High’s future and allow it to continue to inspire the next generation of trailblazers.

‘Complacency is not an option in independent school marketing,’ Lucy says. ‘I have always used MTM for catchment area analysis to focus marketing promotion in certain areas, to understand our audiences, consider bus routes and look at future-proofing with numbers.

‘It allows you to refine messages around what your parents are looking for and understand your audiences’ behaviour. Not least you can find out where they live and target similar parents locally, regionally and nationally.’

The project

To inform Manchester High’s marketing strategy to strengthen the school’s market share and introduce the school to prospective pupils in new residential locations, MTMwere commissioned to carry out an MTM 3-60 full demand and supply analysis.

MTM’s researchers used our unique catchment analysis tool to:

  • Understand the locations and travel times of Manchester High’s current families
  • Understand their lifestyles
  • Define realistic catchment areas
  • Detail the market size for target age children within the catchments in the relevant age groups
  • Estimate the market size of target children within each Neighbourhood (around 130 households) and Postcode Sector (around 2000 households) within each market
  • Project the population change of the target market within each catchment to 2029
  • Analyse the roll trends of competitors
  • Map the school’s bus routes
  • Map families who have moved in and out of the catchment in the past four years


MTM 3-60 research showed that Manchester High is enjoying a good market share in many residential locations within a 40-minute drive time to the school. However we were able to suggest locations that could also yield future recruitment, segmented into areas that would be worth targeting to encourage enquiries for specific entry points.

The research highlighted several new-build residential developments in the school’s catchment area too, and identified areas that would benefit from being on one of the school bus routes, to support retention of the current pupils who live there and attract new ones.

Next steps

‘If you can justify why you are spending money because you have real research to fall back on, it’s reassuring for the leadership and the marketing team. It provides intelligence to reassure key stakeholders.’

The outcomes of the research were crucial to Lucy as she prepared to write Manchester High’s new marketing strategy.

‘A marketing strategy is key for any business  – knowing where you are in terms of your marketing, audience etc is just as important as where you need to be and how you are going to get there,’ she says.

Although there were no real shocks in MTM’s report, Lucy values the evidence that it provides as a foundation for her future planning and to reinforce her decision-making.

‘I am never surprised by the outcomes of market research,’ she says, ‘but marketing has a bad name in terms of spending money for activity.

‘If you can justify why you are spending money because you have real research to fall back on, it’s reassuring for the leadership and the marketing team. It provides intelligence to reassure key stakeholders.’

Of particular practical benefit to Lucy and her team were MTM’s recommendations on which locations to target with marketing, bus routes and digital advertising.

‘The knowledge the MTM team has is great and they are very reliable and flexible with help and information needed,’ says Lucy. ‘I do love the competitor analysis as well as the information on the different audiences and what their preferences are, where they live, where they shop etc – it’s all so useful when determining admissions and marketing requirements.’

‘I have engaged MTM in all four schools I have worked in, and will continue to do so!’


Click here to find out more about Manchester High School for Girls.

Check out our last Case Study: Pocklington School here.

To find out how MTM can help your school to achieve its goals, just get in touch with the friendly MTM team.