Barrier 5 Anxiety around special educational needs and food allergies. Perception is everything
Are your staff team unwittingly losing you business because of the way they speak to school staff or anxious parents? The manner in which these people are dealt with can make or break a booking. I have seen this happen many times.
School staff and some parents will want to speak with you about their child’s special needs, food allergies or emotional situation. They may be highly anxious. How they feel you have treated them will be spread across the school community at lightning speed! You have one chance to ensure this message is positive. What can you do to help them overcome their anxieties? How can you make them feel that you can safely care for their child?
If you can win the heart of the anxious parent, it is likely you will impress the school and this is very likely to result in additional future visits.
How you can help
When dealing with the person enquiring about the booking always be warm, friendly, interested and flexible.
Ensure the teacher who is making the enquiry feels listened to. There is nothing worse than talking to a person who is in a rush, not really interested or who sounds a bit miserable. The staff and pupils want to come to your venue to learn and have fun. Make sure whoever answers the phone is trained to do so and present the public face of your business.
Be flexible, especially with special educational needs provision. Make whatever reasonable adjustments you can to help adapt your venue to the needs of your customers. For example, a venue we have worked with won a school over by simply offering to turn off the hand dryers in one of their toilets and provide paper towels when they discovered one of their pupils had heightened sensitivity to the noise of the hand dryer. The school and the pupil’s family were over the moon and plan to return in the future.
Don’t minimise or be dismissive when discussing potential challenges such as food allergies, disabilities or anxieties of certain pupils. Saying something like, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s fine, we’ve done this many times before, there’s never a problem’ doesn’t help! Staff need to feel that you have listened carefully to their concerns and really understand what could go wrong. Reassure them, ask their advice and make sure they know you have taken on board everything they have said.
Always do what you say you will. If you promise to get back to them by the end of the next day, make sure you do. If they can’t trust you with the small things, they won’t trust you with the big ones!
Remember that the school staff are specialist who really know these children and are often highly trained. They will want to work in partnership with you.
We can train your team to actively listen and reassure anxious customers. We are the experts in helping you adapt your offer to attract more school visitors to your site. Our team is made up of currently serving teachers and school leaders. Contact us if you would like to know more about how we can help.
Our next blog – Time barriers and how you can help
Barrier 4 Safeguarding – does everyone know how effective your safeguarding procedures are?
School staff anxiety around whether or not your venue meets their stringent safeguarding requirements can be a barrier if not handled correctly.
How you can help
Perception is everything. You may have excellent, up to date, safeguarding procedures in place that are of the standard schools expect but does the school know this? Consider preparing a safeguarding pack with what schools want to hear, for example, that all of your staff are DBS checked, that you have key staff trained in paediatric first aid, a copy of your safeguarding and child protection policy is available on your website and so on. If you are not sure how to design and write these policies to meet today’s requirements, contact us and we can help.
Ask schools if there is anything else they need to hear or see. Let them know if staff are trauma responsive because they have received training in Emotional Logic, de-escalation, dyslexia, ADHD or anything else that would be useful. Are your staff familiar with the contents of Keeping Children Safe in Education? What about site security? What about a major incident plan? Do schools know you have these in place? Are these available for them to read? All this gives a feeling of professionalism and reassurance. If your policies are out of date and have not been reviewed in recent years this will not inspire confidence.
Contact us if you would like help reviewing your safeguarding procedures and policies so that you can help schools overcome this barrier. We are the experts in helping you adapt your offer to attract more school visitors to your site. Our team is made up of currently serving teachers and school leaders.
Our next blog – Staff interaction barriers and how you can help ensure your staff don’t scare the schools away!
How you can help make visits more affordable for schools without reducing your entrance price
You might be surprised to learn that the cost of getting into your venue is not necessarily the biggest financial barrier schools face. There are often hidden costs such as the high cost of transport or if schools are required to pay for a number of additional adults.
The rising cost of fuel has mean that transport costs, particularly using coaches, can sometime make the visit unaffordable. You may want to explore setting up an arrangement with local coach companies to offer special deals for repeat business to your setting. It is also worth reminding the teacher who is booking that traveling outside of school hours is always cheaper. They can stay with you longer and possibly spend more!
Having to pay for additional adults
We all know that there are recommended adult to child ratios for different age groups, but some groups need additional supervision due to the particular cohort of children. This will be for a range of reasons – physical, emotional or educational needs, even safeguarding requirements. Teachers are sometimes surprised at how rigid certain venues can be when it comes to allowing free adult places and are put off by this.
When offering free adult places, consider the upselling opportunities – how much tea, coffee and cake will the adults buy while they are with you? How many of them will take up your offer of discounted return visits, bring their entire family, buy lunch in your cafe and take home souvenirs?
Contact us if you would like to know more about how to help schools overcome the financial barriers they face and attract more school groups to your venue. We are the experts in helping you adapt your offer to attract more school visitors to your site. Our team is made up of currently serving teachers and school leaders.
Our next blog – Safeguarding barriers and how you can help
Barrier 2 Awareness – Do the key people in schools know what you currently offer? How do you let schools know that you have the perfect venue for their educational visit?
Awareness barriers can arise on both sides.
Schools may not be fully aware of what educational experiences your venue can offer different age groups.
Venues are not always fully aware of what schools are looking for and their current offer may not fit what schools want. Thankfully, there are solutions to both of these barriers.
How you can help
As explained in our last blog, first plan, prepare and perfect your offer to schools and make sure it is linked to the current curriculum and high profile areas. Once that is done, the schools need to know what makes you better than the rest! Here are some of our top tips:
Clarity on the education section of your website is key. Schools need to be able to see what you offer and know precisely how it meets their current curriculum needs.
A targeted marketing program, focusing on your specific curriculum offer, aimed at the right people is essential. As you have probably discovered, traditional marketing methods don’t work well with schools; blanket emails to schools will not get to the people you want.
Search engine optimisation and the use of specific, specialist websites can help get your message out there in the right places.
Contact us if you would like our help to tailor your offer, website or marketing plan to fit the current curriculum requirements and attract more school groups to your venue. We are the experts in helping you adapt your offer to attract more school visitors to your site. Our team is made up of currently serving teachers and school leaders.
Our next blog – Affordability barriers and how you can help without reducing your entrance price.
Barrier 1 – Your offer doesn’t fit the current school curriculum requirements
Knowing what schools want and how to provide it within your setting is vital
Schools are required to teach a rich, challenging curriculum and this can be tricky to fit into their current timetable. You can help them by offering curriculum based learning opportunities in your unique setting.
How you can help
Seek professional, up to date advice on what schools want – don’t presume.
Your offer must meet the needs of the current national curriculum at the level of challenge required whilst playing to the strengths of your unique setting.
Curriculum expectations change with new government policies and things are probably very different from when you were at school. Make sure your offer is updated whenever these changes happen. This can make a huge difference.
If what you offer is an add on to the curriculum, schools won’t have time to fit a visit in.
It helps if your offer meets the current high-profile areas that schools are looking for. If you can offer these learning opportunities within your setting, then it is likely you will attract more visitors.
Contact us if you would like to know more about how you can increase visitor numbers. We can help you design learning opportunities for schools built around the current high-profile educational visit areas bespoke for your venue. Our team is made up of serving teachers and school leaders who are experts in their field.
Our next blog – Awareness barriers and how you can ensure every school knows that you can offer an Exciting Education experience relevant to the current curriculum.
Some children are extremely sensitive to unfamiliar people, unexpected noises and new experiences. There are simple things that your setting can do to help visits run smoothly for these people and ensure that their experience with you is delightful rather than stressful.
Offer materials to help school groups and parents to plan in advance. Having a sensory or autism-aware pack available on your website for staff or carers to download prior to their visit is very easy to set up and can make the world of difference for some people.
The pack doesn’t need to be complex. Include photos of key staff and their names. Pictures of important places the children will be visiting are vital. Show them some of the things they will see and where they will eat their lunch. Don’t forget to include a photo of your toilets as this area can be particularly challenging for some children. If they can see in advance what they toilets look like it can often help them to be more relaxed and prepared. If you have a hand dryer, consider turning it off, if you can, for particularly sensitive children. Offer them towels instead.
Make sure your information packs include directions to quieter areas. Where can children go to calm down if things get too much for them? Can you provide simple ear defenders for them to wear? If you have any autism friendly education materials, this is a great opportunity to explain what you have and how to access it.
We can review your provision from the eyes of different clients and help make your setting more inclusive and accessible for all. Contact us at Exciting Education if you would like help reviewing your educational and SEND provision.