Marketing Your Private School in the Face of VAT Hikes

small films founder, george hughes

5th July 2024

written by George Hughes

With the recent change of government, the Labour policy of a planned 20% VAT hike is likely causing considerable concern amongst the private school community. With one in four parents contemplating withdrawing their children from private education, it’s now more crucial than ever for schools to emphasise the unique benefits they offer. 

In this article, the Small Films team explores the actionable steps private schools can take to effectively communicate their value proposition and retain their student body amidst these financial uncertainties.

Create an Enhanced Communications Strategy

Parents are understandably anxious about whether the impending VAT addition will impact their school fees. Transparent, regular, and thoughtful communication will be key to keeping parents informed and engaged. 

Effective communication strategies include:

Informational Videos

Create videos from the Head Teacher that clearly outline what the VAT increases mean, including potential changes in fees, and how the school plans to manage these changes.

FAQs on the Website

Develop a comprehensive FAQ section on the school’s website addressing common concerns about the VAT increase and its impact on school fees.

Email Newsletters

Send regular email newsletters with updates on the VAT situation, any changes in school fees, and steps the school is taking to mitigate impacts.

Progress Reports

Provide periodic progress reports on how the school is preparing for the potential changes, including any financial adjustments or additional support for families.

Individual Calls/Meetings

Offer one-on-one meetings with parents to discuss their specific concerns and how the school can support their family during this transition.

Personalised Letters

Send personalised letters from the head of the school explaining the situation and reassuring parents of the school’s commitment to providing quality education.


Host webinars with experts (e.g., financial advisors and educational consultants) to discuss the potential economic impact and provide parents with financial planning advice.

Parent Committees

Establish parent committees to work closely with school administration on addressing the impact of VAT increases and exploring possible solutions.

Feedback Mechanisms

Implement surveys and forums for parents to voice concerns and suggestions, demonstrating that the school values their input.

Unified Message

Ensure all communications—from emails to social media posts—convey a consistent message about the VAT increases and the school’s response.

Positive Tone

Maintain a positive and reassuring tone in all communications, emphasising the school’s commitment to its students and families.

Emphasise the benefits of attending your school

With the potential for fee increases causing parents to consider other options, it’s crucial to highlight what sets your school apart. Beyond academic excellence, showcase your unique programmes, extracurricular opportunities, and individualised attention that contribute to a well-rounded education. Here’s how you can effectively communicate these benefits:

Videos Showcasing Your Facilities

Highlight the numerous advantages your school offers compared to state education by showcasing your extensive on-site facilities. This might include a state-of-the-art swimming pool, expansive sports grounds, well-stocked libraries, and wide-open spaces

Alumni Video Testimonials

Share inspiring stories from alumni on your website, email communications, and social media platforms to illustrate the long-term value of your education.

Dedicated Academic Achievements Page

Create a specific page on your website that highlights your students’ academic successes, including awards, competitions, and exam results.

Promotional Video Showreel

Develop a comprehensive video that captures the ethos and values of your school, demonstrating what makes your school unique.

Videos Focused on Extracurricular Activities

Produce dedicated videos that highlight the variety and quality of your extracurricular programs, showing students engaged in sports, arts, and other activities.

Behind-the-Scenes Social Media Content

Use social media to provide an authentic look at day-to-day life at your school, showcasing events, classroom activities, and student interactions.

University Placement Statistics

Share impressive statistics on university placements and other post-graduation achievements to demonstrate the success of your alumni.

Comprehensive Email Communications Strategy

Implement a regular email strategy that keeps parents updated on key events, achievements, and news, reinforcing the ongoing benefits of your school.

By using these strategies, you can effectively communicate the distinct advantages of attending your school and reassure parents of the value their children receive, even in the face of potential fee increases.

Be Proactive with Your School’s Marketing

As the election nears, it’s a prime time to set your school up for success. Review your current marketing plan and identify areas that may need adjustments. 

Audit Current Marketing Efforts

  • Evaluate Effectiveness: Review and analyse the effectiveness of current campaigns, identifying areas that need improvement or increased focus.
  • Performance Metrics: Assess key performance metrics to determine which strategies are yielding the best results.

Consider Current Marketing Focus Areas

  • Relevance Check: Evaluate if your current focus areas are still relevant in the context of potential VAT increases. Determine if new streams need to be added or if some areas may become redundant.
  • Flexibility: Ensure your marketing strategy is flexible enough to adapt to changes in the political landscape and parental concerns.

Develop Pre- and Post-Election Marketing Campaigns

  • Pre-Election Activities: Implement marketing activities that address parents’ concerns leading up to the election. This could include information sessions, transparent communication about potential impacts, and reassurances about the school’s commitment to quality education.
  • Post-Election Strategies: Be prepared with a post-election plan to address the outcomes, whether it involves reassuring parents or adjusting strategies based on the new financial landscape.

The potential VAT increases on private school fees pose a significant challenge, but with proactive and strategic marketing, schools can still position themselves for success. At Small Films, we have extensive experience working with leading independent schools to overcome marketing challenges, build brand awareness, and attract new students. If you’d like to discuss how our team can support your school in navigating these changes, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.