Project Description

The Mall SchoolReconfiguring the teaching spaces at The Mall School in Twickenham left an empty building that looked to be the ideal spot for a new nursery. But, before launching a class for pre-schoolers, the bursar turned to MTM to make sure there would be a sufficient number of local families keen to use it.

When the decision was taken to bring the pre- prep department of The Mall School into the main school building so that boys aged four to 11 could be taught on the same site, the leadership team were faced with the happy dilemma of how to make the best use of a spare space in a beautiful leafy corner of Twickenham, south-west London.

‘We explored a number of other options, but really didn’t want to lose such a fabulous site,’ explains The Mall’s Bursar, Glen Jones. ‘We realised that with a few minor adjustments it would be perfect as a nursery to act as a feeder to our main school.’

But before embarking on the costly process of setting up the new nursery and marketing it to local families, Glen engaged MTM to carry out market research to establish whether or not there was enough demand for a new nursery setting to be viable.

MTM carried out market research to establish whether or not there was enough demand for a new nursery setting to be viable.

The project

MTM were commissioned to undertake a Nursery Feasibility Study to understand the local nursery market, assessing the provision offered by existing nurseries and how successfully they were performing, using our unique catchment analysis tool to:

  • Detail the market size for target age children within the catchment
  • Estimate the market size of target children within each neighbourhood
  • Analyse the roll trends of competitors
  • Project the population change of the target market to 2029

Our researchers also carried out a telephone mystery shop of the key competitors identified by the school, to detail their opening hours, opening period, fees, the nature of the offering, any school integration, the structure of the day and parental integration. We also surveyed parents to find out what they perceived a ‘good’ nursery to be and where there would be demand for a new nursery.

At the same time, MTM were asked to analyse the markets being served by the school – to assess how successfully the school was recruiting from them and to identify any locations with further potential for recruitment. Again, our unique catchment analysis tool was employed to:

  • Understand the locations and travel times of the school’s current families
  • Understand the lifestyles of current families
  • Define realistic catchment areas Assess the market size
  • Project population change to 2029 Analyse competitors’ roll trends

Results

Previous research by MTM has shown a dramatic shift in UK parents’ choice of childcare provision for their children in recent years. Although in the past, childminders were the go-to for many working families, increasing regulation has meant that fewer registered childminders are now operating and instead day nurseries have become a much more popular option for parents.

These are generally large, play-based settings offering full day care for babies to pre-school age children, 51 weeks of the year. Opening hours are from 8am to 6pm as a minimum, with many offering a much longer day to support parents who commute, or work shifts or extended hours.

In contrast, nursery schools are typically more education-focused, offer shorter hours and generally operate only during term-time, although some also offer holiday care.

MTM’s research for The Mall School showed that families in the local area predominantly were of the type that required childcare for a full working day, as opposed to term-time only – the kind of nursery settings that MTM knows to be thriving generally. The research also found that parents in the Twickenham area were educationally aware and so most likely to choose academic settings for their children. The Mall School, our research concluded, was operating in a buoyant, affluent local market and could also capitalise on opportunities to recruit more pupils from slightly further afield.

Next steps

The results of MTM’s research very clearly pointed the best way forward for The Mall School. ‘We had considered opening a pre-school, but the data received from MTM was compelling,’ says Glen.

‘It certainly steered the school towards the conclusion that we should establish a nursery on the site, and that it would be more competitive if we were to operate for 51 weeks a year, and for boys and girls from as young as six months.’

To that end, Glen and his team are working towards opening The Mall School’s new nursery in September 2022.
‘The MTM team were knowledgeable, professional and very helpful throughout the process,’ says Glen. ‘They met all our deadlines, were happy to attend meetings with governors and their report was clear and comprehensive, so I would definitely recommend MTM to any school considering making an important decision of this nature.’

 

Click here to find out more about the Mall School.

Check out our last Case Study: Manchester High School For Girls here.

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