MTM Analysis
25 September 2023

How Well are we Preparing our Children?

Recent research has unveiled a growing concern shared by both parents and business leaders regarding the education system’s ability to adequately prepare children for the challenges of the future. The Future Fwd Study The study, conducted by MTM Consulting and presented at the Future Fwd Conference this week, highlights a lack of communication skills, which are unanimously recognised by contributors ...

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16 May 2023

Confidence Index 2023

The Confidence Index 2023 report is now available. The Survey Launched in 2022 in partnership with Schools Management Plus, the Confidence Index is our annual online survey designed to provide an ongoing barometer of the leadership, marketing and finance elements of the UK independent schools sector. This year we were delighted to also partner with AMCIS and to launch the ...

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11 November 2022

Fee Elasticity – What You Need to Know

The issue of fee elasticity is more relevant now than ever.  Independent schools up and down the country face a difficult time economically in the months and years ahead.  Soaring energy costs, teachers’ pensions, the contracting of the market and the very real prospect of the loss of charity status.  These all threaten to cause serious damage to the bottom ...

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3 December 2021

MTM and ISMP launch annual UK independent education sector leadership, marketing and finance survey

The Confidence Index An annual online survey designed to provide an ongoing barometer of the leadership, marketing and finance elements of the UK independent schools sector is being carried out in January and February 2022 by MTM Consulting in partnership with Independent School Management Plus (ISMP). The Confidence Index 2022 asks heads, bursars, marketers and admissions professionals in UK independent schools ...

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8 October 2021

Mind the education cash gap

What is the education cash gap?   The latest Institute for Fiscal Studies report into education funding in England highlights the significant drop in state-school per-pupil spend. But how helpful is it to compare this with the gradual increase in independent school fees, asks James Leggett, Managing Director of education business specialist MTM Consulting. This articles highlights the education cash ...

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27 September 2021

Standing up to state school competition

The latest data from the Department for Education shows that the proportion of England’s children attending independent schools continues to fall. With greater investment making many state schools an increasingly attractive option for families who could in fact afford to pay school fees, how can the independent education sector remain resilient? MTM’s Managing Director James Leggett offers some insight. The results of the ...

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7 September 2021

MTM in the news: In Focus: Beware the rising challenge of the state sector

The DFE’s school census offers vital intelligence for independent schools looking to hold their position in the market, writes James Leggett… Those responsible for crunching the admissions numbers in English independent schools find the annual DfE school census data particularly useful context. This school census data is especially useful in that it indicates countrywide trends that are most often rooted in ...

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23 September 2020

Lockdown learning prompts parents to consider paying for independent education, our survey finds

When education moved out of the classroom and onto the kitchen table for the summer term of 2020, parents had little choice but to become more closely involved with their children’s learning than ever before. Our unique survey ‘The impact of COVID-19 on parental perceptions of fee-charging education’ shows that the lockdown schooling experience of many parents of state school ...

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30 June 2020

Are your numbers up or down for your region?

As a research company specialising in Education, the MTM team wait with bated breath for the release of roll trend data from the Department of Education each year. The Independent School Council census in April provides a reasonable insight, but only includes data from its member schools, whereas the Department of Education data includes all schools in England, allowing for ...

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22 February 2019

Millennials spend over £3,300 on takeaways, eating out, coffees, socialising and clothes

Following a recent survey Barclays have found millennials spend over £3,300 on takeaways, eating out, daily coffees, socialising and buying new clothes. And two thirds admit they don’t save enough, or at all. But what does this have to do with independent schools? At MTM, most of us ‘just’ fit into the millennial category and with young children, we are ...

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18 January 2019

Trimming the excess

It’s January, which means we are currently being bombarded with messages about losing weight, getting fit or embarking on a ‘dry January’, following the extreme excess of the festive season. And just when you think you might be safe reading something that doesn’t leave you feeling like you’ve overindulged, we talk about trimming the excess too! In the last 30 ...

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18 January 2019

Hazelwood School Case Study

Hazelwood School, who educate around 600 1 -13 year olds in Surrey had been successfully growing their pupil numbers over a number of years. However, aware that birth rates had potentially peaked, the governors and senior leaders were keen to determine whether they could sustain their three-form entry at Reception level in the short to medium term. The school also ...

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16 January 2019

It’s Census Day

Perhaps we should hide the fact that we are very excited by the fact that it’s census day, but we just can’t help it! We’re data geeks and we know the market insight, competitor and Demand & Supply analysis we provide (through our unique Market and Catchment Intelligence) just wouldn’t be possible without it. Of course, we draw our intelligence ...

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9 January 2019

Optimising parental engagement

Positive parental engagement within schools is a vital part of any marketing strategy. It can support learning at home, improve communications and relations with parents, raise awareness of school events and information and improve the reputation of your school – essential for that all important word of mouth marketing. We have no doubt, parental engagement will be a key part ...

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19 September 2018

Reflection & Projection: the independent schools sector

The start of the school year is by far the most important; it’s the time we start with our intentions and projections for a fruitful year. With that in mind, we are headlining with a reflection on the key themes from 2017/18 and will project what this means for the independent education sector in 2018/19 and beyond. ISC pupil numbers ...

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19 September 2018

Data: The New Gold

Today, data is the new gold. Organisations are fighting each other over the rights to new and more valuable seams of data. We have created a whole new industry which mines, manages, processes, measures, stores, analyses, leverages and categorises data. For many organisations, the mere possession of data is more important than the application of it in the development of ...

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12 September 2018

Parent surveys – why bother?

With the fresh intake of September starters, what better way to start the year than with a parent survey. We’ve calculated the average parent lifetime value at an all-through independent school is £414,369, so you could say that your parents are pretty valuable. More valuable, in fact, than the average house, family car and holiday home put together! Which means ...

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15 June 2018

Schools in rich areas are twice as likely to be outstanding – have we created an elitist state system?

Data this week has revealed that schools in affluent areas are twice as likely to be rated ‘outstanding’ than those in the most deprived. Just 16 per cent of schools in the most deprived areas are ‘outstanding’, compared with 37% in the least deprived. Ofsted grades of secondary schools with a large proportion of white British pupils, Source: Schools Week, ...

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8 June 2018

Back to Marketing Basics

The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) define marketing as:  “The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.” Sometimes I think we need reminding! Too often, even those in the industry assume that marketing is just about advertising or selling, but there is absolutely no point selling something that no one wants. How well do you really ...

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25 May 2018

A welcome to be celebrated

Many of you will know, one of our areas of research at MTM is mystery shopping and it is something we have done a considerable amount of this year.  When we experience something extraordinary, we get rather excited and this week, we experienced true excellence at Ipswich High School. We were honoured to be a part of the inaugural Diamond ...

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13 April 2018

Which of your web pages are viewed the most?

No doubt it is report writing time for many of you, as well as me! I’ve just finalised our quarterly marketing report, a task I actually find very incredibly rewarding. A few interesting finds came out of the report, one being just how many visitors we get from the US, and another being how many people view our team page. In ...

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12 January 2018

It’s a great time to talk to your parents

The end of another Autumn terms comes all too quickly and whilst we all have the best of intentions of things we want to complete, the inevitable melee of carol concerts and nativity plays means anything that slipped down the list is now buried on the desk. New teachers have found the coffee machine in the common room and new ...

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5 July 2017

Whats on your list for the summer? 10 suggestions for the Marketeer

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][fusion_text]As the new academic year fast approaches, we’ve done our own research and thinking to uncover the key things marketers need to be thinking about ahead of time. These fall into three core competencies:

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9 June 2017

How Labour used targeted marketing

Comment by Mo Jallow, Researcher. Yes, they haven’t won, but Labour and its campaign team are still celebrating. The question for many is how did they manage to pull it off?  Their campaign has been a triumph of highly efficient targeted marketing against big money mass blanketing.

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22 May 2017

AMDIS conference a success!

[fusion_builder_container background_color=”” background_image=”” background_parallax=”none” enable_mobile=”no” parallax_speed=”0.3″ background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” video_url=”” video_aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_webm=”” video_mp4=”” video_ogv=”” video_preview_image=”” overlay_color=”” overlay_opacity=”0.5″ video_mute=”yes” video_loop=”yes” fade=”no” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding_top=”20″ padding_bottom=”20″ padding_left=”” padding_right=”” hundred_percent=”no” equal_height_columns=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” menu_anchor=”” class=”” id=””][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][fusion_text] MTM attended the AMDIS conference once ...

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10 March 2017

Admissions: it is all about sharing the love.

James and the MTM team have carried out over 100 mystery shops this year, so many infact that this has become an inauguration task! Before starting, each ‘shopper’ is issued with a ‘persona’ (the character to play when calling the school), and some key statistics:

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16 February 2017

Coaches and Travel Strategy

A fundamental limiting feature of your school is its location. However, your catchment boundary can be blurred by providing transportation. Previous research by James and the MTM team suggests that parents will drive 30mins to school, but will drive 15 – 25mins to a bus to take the children another 30 mins. So, how do the logistics work Bursar? There ...

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11 January 2017

School matters newsletter – Issue 24

Our latest newsletter contains a wider range of contributors than ever before, with articles on Facebook Live, going international, building successful marketing campaigns and building successful alumni relations. To discuss any of these articles, do give us a call!

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2 December 2016

To outsource or not to outsource – that is THE question!

I am sure you may have heard me mention (just once or twice!) that good market research is essential for schools. By determining families’ wants and needs you can target your advertising and marketing and ensure that you meet (and even exceed) their expectations continually fuelling the positive word of mouth lifecycle. Successful independent schools will tell you that they ...

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15 November 2016

What are your research objectives?

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][fusion_text]When undertaking any research, the focus should always be on the objectives. Why are you doing it? What do you NEED to know and what would be nice to know? At MTM we undertake all types of ...

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19 October 2016

What is putting affluent first time buyers off independent education? by Claire Blizard, Managing Director

Last Thursday I spoke at the ISA Proprietors Conference 2016 about our independent “Missing Million” research. It is undoubtedly my favourite piece of MTM research as it not only unpicks and evaluates the reach of existing school marketing campaigns but also investigates the drivers for first time buyers of independent education. With more competition than ever before, both in the ...

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5 July 2016

The Power of Parents

With the last days and weeks of the academic year in sight, this time of year is often when parents feel it an opportune time to let school leaders know their thoughts on the teaching and running of the school their child attends. On the one hand, this can be an incredibly frustrating experience as, with the next academic year ...

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16 March 2016

Is it time for a new definition of Social Class?

Most of us are familiar with the NRS Social Grade system, encompassing A, B, C1, etc. This was devised 50 years ago and is based on occupation. Fast-forward to 2016, and only a tiny proportion of the population are considered as manual workers. This shoehorns most of the us into Grades A, B and C1, groups which are too broad ...

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12 February 2016

The Overseas Dimension by Alison Hogan

The need for change in schools has become a cliché. For those of us marketing and leading admissions in the independent sector for any length of time, change has been the one constant. We expect to read about it almost every day but the danger of being a little battle-hardened is that we might lose an opportunity. When a real, ...

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15 January 2016

The Pros and Cons of DIY mapping your catchment by James Leggett

With marketing budgets squeezed ever tighter, the more you can do yourself the better. At MTM, we are seeing more marketers using DIY methods of mapping their current pupils. As far as we are concerned this real progress! Knowing where your pupils come from and whether there are any holes in your catchment is the first step to understanding recruitment ...

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27 November 2015

Implications of recent demographic changes for your school

An uncertain economic climate accompanied with falling affordability have been mainstays of independent school rhetoric in over the last five years, but one thing that has been constant is the birth rate. We have analysed the year on year change in the projected numbers of 0-4 year olds to 2037 and can see that although the birth rate has been ...

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20 November 2015

Understanding the ins… …and the outs of your parents’ perceptions

Do you have a clear idea of the reasons parents chose your school over your competitors? What about their hopes for their son or daughter during their education at your school? How can you make sure your parents feel valued when they arrive?

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6 November 2015

The rise of Grammar Schools? What are the implications for fee-charging schools? By Mo Jallow

As I was driving down to the ISA conference, I heard something that most analysts said would never happen – the approval of a new grammar school (albeit an annex to an existing school). The arguments are familiar

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21 October 2015

The perils of polling – part 2 by Dominic Knight

In my last blog, we looked at the problems with the General Election polling this year and the implications this might have for survey work in general. Is it a black mark against surveys and polling work in general? Should we be suspicious of their findings?

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19 October 2015

The perils of polling – part 1 by Dominic Knight

In the run up to the General Election in May, the polls suggested another hung parliament, even a minority Labour government, was a distinct possibility. As we know, the electorate confounded all expectations and gave the country its first majority Conservative government for nearly 20 years. What went wrong? Should we trust pollsters’ work in future? What, if any, implications ...

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19 October 2015

Learning from Waitrose – By Alison Eddershaw

Unless they’re unhappy, customers rarely tell you what they think of your service. The only way to find out is to ask them outright.

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16 October 2015

Mystery Shops

If you have recently held an open day, have you any idea what your visitors really thought of you (and your competitors!)? One of the best and most objective ways of achieving a true ‘parent’s eye’ view of visiting is by using mystery shoppers and a professional ‘undercover’ operator sees what internal reviews miss.

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16 October 2015

Schools and the state by James Leggett

Last week, I was lucky enough to attend an audience with Sir Michael Barber, hosted by the CMRE. The premise was that ‘Schools Cannot Do Without Politicians’. Coming from a former politician, this argument could of course be compromised. However, I shall use this series of blogs to discuss some of the reasons behind Sir Michael’s thesis.

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6 August 2015

Who is answering your phone?

Comment by James Leggett, Research Director at mtmconsulting. Have you ever called your school? Do you have to go through the switchboard or is there a friendly voice? How does it compliment the ‘admissions journey’ for potential parents? Does it reflect the school ‘brand’ and uphold the image you are trying to maintain? 

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4 August 2015

Is your website designed for your users?

Comment by Modou Jallow, Research Analyst at mtmconsulting.  A good school website is and must be customer/ user orientated. Designed for, and to a great extent with, the influence of the user. As it is the case in almost all organizations, the target audiences are not homogenous (as in the case of schools current parents, prospective parents, students) and this ...

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3 August 2015

Nurturing your feeder schools

Never underestimate the importance of nurturing good relationships with your feeder schools (old and new) and using those relationships to encourage parents into your school. Any possible situation that you can get potential parents through your gates will help your recruitment, as long as you present your school in the best possible light in a well organised and positive way. ...

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31 July 2015

Are you losing market share to your competitors?

Jane Davies, Senior Researcher at mtmconsulting,  continues her investigation into monitoring competitors. Even if your own rolls appear to be robust, can you be sure that you are maintaining your market share in an increasingly competitive environment? It is possible that your key independent school competitors or new operators, such as free schools, are stealing a march by increasing their ...

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30 July 2015

10 simple steps to monitor your competition

Jane Davies, Senior Research at mtmconsulting outlines 10 simple methods to find out what your competitors are up to… Whilst concentrating on your own marketing planning and activity, it is sometimes easy to take your eye off the ball when it comes to what your competitors are up to. In the increasingly competitive environment, it is more important than ever ...

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29 July 2015

Will the baby boom continue?

James Leggett, Research Director at mtmconsulting has analysed the population projections of 0-19 year olds to 2037. Since the late nineties/early noughties, there has been a significant increase in the birth rate. I must confess to contributing to this boom with my pigeon pair! The current evidence is that this has now peaked and indeed the birth rate is reducing, ...

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28 July 2015

The Terror of Terminology

Sometimes it’s easy to forget how intimidating and exclusive some of the language in the independent school sector can be. From exeats to ‘long leave’ and ‘short leave’ and from ‘big school’ to historic house names, it can sometimes seem that schools go out of their way to build a barrier to ‘strangers’.  Occasionally schools can sound like a bad ...

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27 July 2015

The power of friendship networks

Implications for schools If somebody knows someone who educates a child privately, then that makes them more likely to at least consider it too. We know from research for schools carried out at mtm that word-of-mouth is the single biggest influencer on choice of school, but this insight goes back much further in the decision-making process. It influences awareness and consideration ...

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24 July 2015

Making the most of your market research

It’s vital to assess the status quo before your school can even think about moving forward, and at mtmconsulting we believe so passionately in the value of incisive market research that we spend much of our time and energy carrying out bespoke survey projects on behalf of schools that are serious about unlocking their future business potential. But how to ...

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23 July 2015

Marketing Strategy for School Start Up

Case study: Schools need to be strategically aligned to their market to secure their future Context School  A  represented  a  new  venture  for  a  large  overseas educational  foundation  looking  to  establish  itself  in  the  UK. mtmconstulting  was  commissioned  to  deliver  market  research, devise  the  marketing   strategy  and  then  implement   the communications  plan  for  the  launch  of  School  A.  Prior  to  ...

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22 July 2015

How effective is your school’s advertising?

Do you or your school advertise regularly in newspapers and magazines within your local areas? Do you keep a track of the effectiveness of each advertisements? At mtmconsulting, we regularly undertake online satisfaction surveys for schools, asking how parents found out about the school, with interesting results.

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21 July 2015

Maximising school marketing in the first phone call

Five quick tips Those educational businesses who have not addressed the issue of schools marketing are likely to see enquiries from parents not followed through, wasted school marketing budget, and ineffective use of time. All schools should think about the considerations below on a regular basis (at least termly). These free and crucial aspects could make a huge difference to your school’s pupil ...

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20 July 2015

Planning to open a new school?

The range of information that schools need seems to be greater than ever. More and more schools have to work hard to ensure that they are attracting the numbers of students and prospective students required to keep the school sustainable. For many, this is thought of as a marketing problem, and it is certainly essential that schools are at the ...

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17 July 2015

Have you considered your school’s perceptual positioning?

A perceptual map may sound like a piece of marketing jargon, but it could help you identify strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for your school. The perceptual map is a commonly used piece of analysis to understand an organisation’s positioning in relation to its main competitors. It might be used by retail firms for identifying a gap in a region where a new store can be established, or ...

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16 July 2015

What the future will bring. . .

Our research and marketing experience suggests that future trends will bring higher parental demands on the independent sector, leading to new independent school marketing tactics. Higher parental expectations Independent schools are already used to demanding parents and they are becoming even more ‘picky’ when choosing schools, paying closer attention to inspection reports, social media and examination performance, demanding more attention from heads ...

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15 July 2015

Prospectus design

What every school’s marketing team should know Every school has high hopes for its prospectus, but the truth is that some of them work, and some just don’t. In our experience of prospectus design for independent schools and colleges we have found that the make-or-break factor is the planning that is put into prospectus design.

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14 July 2015

Seven Stages of Marketing Planning in your school Part 2

Part 2 Please note: this is part two of a two-part article. The first part was published yesterday (13 July 2015). Marketing textbooks typically present a fairly complex impression of the stages involved in producing a marketing plan, and talk of PEST, 4-Ps, SWOT and STEP might deter some schools from giving their marketing plan the time and attention it deserves. We hope ...

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13 July 2015

Seven Stages of Marketing Planning in your School

Part 1 Please note: this is part one of a two-part article. The second part follows tomorrow (14 July 2015). Marketing textbooks typically present a fairly complex impression of the stages involved in producing a marketing plan, and talk of PEST, 4-Ps, SWOT and STEP might deter some schools from giving their marketing plan the time and attention it deserves. We hope ...

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10 July 2015

A WORD IN YOUR EAR

Telephone surveys are an important element of the research we undertake for our clients. Although many types of school in different parts of the UK are involved and the small size of the samples requires caution, it can shed some interesting light on the thought processes of parents and potential parents.

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9 July 2015

Overcoming barriers

Half the pupil recruitment battle is already won if target parents are receptive to the idea of private education. Although this is a statement of the obvious, as parents who send or consider send their children to an independent school are self-selecting and clearly already open to the idea of a private education for their children, there are other parents the ...

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8 July 2015

Spreading the word

We all know that word-of-mouth recommendation sells schools. We often hear the argument that there is no point in doing marketing because the school sells itself, and all our prospective parents cite word of mouth as the key source of information. While I would not dispute that word of mouth is indeed the most significant marketing tool and most advertising ...

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7 July 2015

Mumsnet?

Real insight to inform your marketing strategy In 2010, the General Election was dubbed the ‘Mumsnet Election’ when all the major political parties clamoured to outdo each other on the site. However, if Mumsnet’s power to sway parents’ political choices and ultimately elections have diminished since then, its power to inform and influence their school admission choices has not. 

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6 July 2015

Open days with a difference

Are you planning your next open day? Have you dug out your old feedback forms? Or are you not going to bother this time? Why not simplify the whole process with a short survey on a tablet, giving you instant feedback on the success of your day.

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3 July 2015

Get ahead for the Open Day season

With the summer break upon us, thoughts turn to the Open Day season, and how to encourage potential students and their families through your doors.

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2 July 2015

Exciting times at mtm consulting…

Melanie Tucker has ceased working at MTM and passed full control to the new management team who will be taking the business forward. Everyone at mtm is excited about the future with lots of new and fresh ideas to help implement your school’s research, inform your marketing and give key insight’s to strategic direction.

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19 December 2012

No knock-off goods here: it’s the real thing

Somebody once told me that certain ‘knock-off’ goods – the allegedly Prada and Louis Vuitton bags you can buy from street traders on the Ponte Sant’ Angelo in Rome, for example – were not actually cheap imitations, but genuine goods stolen from the production line and sold through the black market. Probably not true, and certainly not true of the ...

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18 April 2012

Should the fee paying independent sector worry about the ‘squeezed middle’ ?

Last month the Daily Telegraph reported that that middle classes are turning back to the state sector. The interest is primarily fee driven but has been spurred by the opportunities for parents to establish their own school free schools and the transformation of comprehensives into academies. But is this an accurate assessment?

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2 April 2012

How does your new intake measure up?

When we undertake Mandarin studies as part of our school research and strategy packages, we often ask a school to send us the postcodes of their new starters, or pupils who are due to start at the school in the following September. This allows them to compare the lifestyles of new families against the current parent body, the distances new ...

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25 February 2012

The small things in life…

Parental satisfaction surveys are an excellent way of gauging how your school is perceived by your ‘customers’, revealing your strengths and also priorities for improvement. At mtmconsulting we have conducted such surveys in excess of 70 schools, and beyond the major provision issues (teaching quality, academic outcomes, pastoral care etc) we have discovered that it is often the small things ...

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18 February 2012

Setting up a Free School or Academy? How big is your catchment?

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”] If you are making plans to become a Free School or an Academy you will no doubt be considering the extent of your catchment. Careful definition of your catchment using an accurate analysis tool like mtm’s ...

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30 January 2012

Population growth – Know the facts

We are all aware that the British population is expanding and the fact that we have an increasing population should be good news for all education providers, including the independent education sector.  There will indeed be more children but factoring this in to planning your future school strategy should be done with care.

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