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Telling Your School's Story

Published on 19/04/17

When it comes to differentiating your school from the crowd - and standing out from the sea of sameness - there is no better way to do so than collecting and curating the stories that unfold within your school.

You may already have your brand identity perfectly crafted out, with intricately selected values and a clear ethos inline with your tone of voice. However, with that being said, we have come across so many schools that still struggle to demonstrate this in an organic way.

There is a huge difference between your 'elevator pitch' and your story.

Vision statement: Where you want your organisation/school to be; including long-term and wide-ranging plans for the area and its schools.

Mission statement: A brief overview (a few sentences) of how the organisation intends to realise the long-term plans.

Slogan: A three word, catchy phrase to reflect the key values, ethos or goals of the school. Simplicity is key here.

It is the undeniable power of a story that has the ability to capture our attention and tap into emotions.

So many schools underestimate the power of what a good narrative can bring to the overall perception of the school's brand and reputation. By collecting and curating stories to define your school's and student's ethos/values, it will immediately become more 'human'. After all, it is our superior mental capacity - as humans - which allows us to think forward to alternative futures; just as prospective parents and students can think forward to envisage their life at your school. Stories help to bring this internal vision to life.

There are always tales to be told from behind the walls of every school gate; it's simply a case of discovering them, drafting them out and crafting them into insightful and compelling stories.

But, what makes for a truly great story?

Stories usually follow the simple structure of: beginning > middle > end. There is usually either one or a few main protagonists and the natural progression of a story follows (according to Todorov) is: equilibrium > disruption > resolution / new equilibrium. Try and think of this in terms of daily school life? What struggles do students face? What do they look for in a school? What are their worries or concerns? You should use this insight and respond to these potential 'disruptions' helping you tell a story that your stakeholders can empathise with. It is the emotion within these stories that will resonate with your audiences.

What makes you YOU?

Play to your strengths and really exaggerate your uniqueness. This could be anything from facilities to the range of extra curricular activities on offer. Barrenjoey High School have done this perfectly in their promotional video. Located on Sydney's Northern Beaches, the school uses it's exceptional geographical location to its advantage. This is a very personal and honest view of the school - from the eyes of their true protagonists: their students. Note that it has a clear beginning, middle and end; like every great story.

Telling the right stories.

There are so many ways for you to tell your school's story, you just need to figure out exactly what story it is you want to tell. Your key messages, core values and brand identity will help you to outline your school's personality and this should help shape the content of your story. As you start to research into the lives of your students, you should see a crossover between the school's values and those of your stakeholders. Use their experiences, stories and feelings to bring your school into a life of its own. Every story should make you feel something.