California Association of Independent Schools

In partnership with the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS), Art & Science Group served 16 schools in northern and southern California this fall through a new format, combining group workshops with individual school consultations. The goal was to help school leadership identify and address their student recruitment and competitive positioning challenges.

In all, 16 schools participated in the process (8 in each location. Each school was assigned an Art & Science consultant who provided one-on-one consulting.

In advance of the workshops, A&S consultants conducted in-depth interviews with each school’s leaders, including the head of school; directors of admission, communications, and development; and two board members, all of whom would be attending the workshop. Based on this information, A&S prepared a written assessment of each school’s particular strategic situation, summarizing the issues and challenges facing the school in strengthening its competitive position, particularly in its markets for students.

As well as providing individual consulting to school teams before, during, and after the workshop, A&S professionals gave presentations to participants on best practices related to: strategic positioning; development of a brand and market positioning platform; research tools and methods to gain market data for decision making; and examples of effective positioning on the web and in recruitment communications.

“The workshop was effective because we brought the full set of school leaders – heads, professional staff, and board members – who as a team must tackle their school’s positioning challenges, to learn what it takes to establish a differentiated brand that sets their school apart from competitors,” says Ben Edwards, principal of Art & Science Group who led the workshops. “I think the best part of the workshops is that school teams left energized and committed to returning to their campuses to continue the process and involve their school community.

“The positive feedback we received from heads of school and other workshop participants has encouraged us to consider collaborating with other state or regional school associations to conduct similar workshops in the future,” adds Edwards.