AAIE Webinar: John Littleford

The Association for the Advancement of International Education (AAIE) is sponsoring some very helpful webinars every week. Last night I attended a Q&A led by well-known international and independent school consultant, John Littleford. He is a “rapid-fire”, straight-talking experienced consultant that has clear opinions and is always thought-provoking. Below are some bits of advice I took away from the session. I would like to thank AAIE and Littleford & Associates for providing the webinar.

Parents want definitive leadership from the school and act with confidence, surety, seriousness and humor. Act with “upbeat confidence” despite the large amount of unknown things.

He thinks a Reduction-In-Force (RIF) is always a good thing to have but if you do not have a clear indication that you have to use it, do not mention it because it will cause panic.

The transition for a new head of school is usually 1 to 3 years and this stage is growing.

Taking away all of the “fun stuff”, athletics, theatre, UN Day, etc. The sense of belonging and community is what brings value to our parents.

This may be a time to reexamine the “fragmented” schedule of 45-minute blocks. One idea would be a 2-week or 5-week schedule to take one class and then move on to the next one.

He suggests calculating an hourly rate for your school, the # of hours students are on campus divided into the tuition fee. You would find it is quite reasonable.

Brand loyalty is low in schools with a high transience rate, like our community. They care more about the ability of students to be able to transition to their next school or value the IB. Most parents are passive consumers of your product, not ambassadors promoting your school. Parents want to be heard and needed.

Parents in quarantine are becoming co-teachers with us. He suggests recruiting them to help promote the school’s program. Brand loyalty is listening and selling to them. You need to know their names and ask them to help.

The right amount of communication depends on the community. During this time it is important to hear from parents, some directors are asking the teachers to call parents a couple of times per week.

John is not an advocate of tuition reduction, he suggests going with upping your financial aid.

He advises to hold firm with faculty not able to come back to work due to health reasons, viewing it like a disability.

One school had an 87% of their expenses go to faculty salary and benefits. 85% is the norm for private, independent schools. Littleford is big on salary system and believes that it determines much of what kind of faculty a school can attract and keep. This is something that we need to look at in the future.

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