A New Role in Secondary Education Leadership
For decades large businesses have understood the need for in-house creative directors or retainer creative agencies to establish and guide brand value and awareness, steward their core message and strategically direct how that message reaches it’s audience. An increasingly saturated job market, greater competition for higher and secondary education enrolment means it has become necessary for students and schools to demonstrate more than academic high grades. Schools need to have a coherent brand identity and creative communications strategy to attract students, parents and teachers of the highest calibre. As Universities continue to mimic the strategies and protocols of successful corporations and secondary schools follows the norms and standards set by higher education it seems logical that international schools will need to follow more corporate strategies to secure success. Most universities have followed suit and have creative agency retainer contracts or in-house creative directors to develop and drive their brand voice and manage the multitude of communication channels available.
Meaningful and well executed interior and facility design, user experience design, PR audience touch points and media content creation is how a school will engage effectively, communicate efficiently and convey it’s brand vision and mission to ensure its growth and development. Many school leadership teams are made up of teachers from more academic subject cohorts that have moved out of the classroom and into administration. Limited numbers of art, design or performing arts teachers make this transition into management leaving decisions such as direction of brand, school advancement, budget allocation and school activity lacking in optimum creative focus and outcomes. Even the most capable creative agencies can struggle with the nuances of educational institutions. Great schools are more than a logo, strapline, intuitive website or elegantly layed out monthly newsletter.
An evolving career landscape, ever new job roles and the likelihood of several professional directions over a lifetime have lead to a new need for flexible problem solvers that understand design thinking and posses empathy and the ability for creative self expression and dialogue. For a new school entering into a saturated market the tone of voice of its communication, wider community engagement and school life for students, staff and parents needs to be even more dynamic and diverse. Cultural inclusion, meaningful experiences, consistently surprising and delighting community members are what will make an outstanding school stand apart from their peers and drive student recruitment. For this to be effective and efficient employing an in- house or agency creative partner who is dedicated to this development is the most effective solution.
School creative activity and direction are often spread over a multitude of administrative job titles. Frequently personnel do not posses the qualifications or the experience to plan and execute these objectives to the high standards required to deliver meaningful outcomes or compete with other more established insititions. Time constraints from other responsibilities also negatively impact on results. In South East Asia education is often seen as a business opportunity and those who clearly demonstrate a more holistic approach to education and that emulates corporate brand strategy while retaining the essensce of education as a pillar of society will stand out from the crowd. In South East Asia APAC and MRISA are organisations that bring student communities together from the region but in a similar way to most extra curricular activities and summer school courses, these are predominantly sports, academic or service programs. Educational leaders need to redress this imbalance and schools that embrace this opportunity by actively dedicating staff and resources to becoming an institution that invests in and promotes the power and value of Art and Design will be acknowledged as pioneers in Education.
Dorian Gibb – Teacher | Artist | Designer
Founder and Director – Work Room Four and other projects