How Communications Differ Between Primary and Secondary Schools

Different types of schools require different communications. In this blog, we’ve outlined some of the most important ways that primary school content should vary from that of a secondary school.

In all school communications there are many common principles you should follow, from maintaining correct grammar and spelling to the use of a positive and consistent tone of voice. However, the differing types of school necessitate subtle variations in content.

In this blog, we’ve listed some of the ways communications for primary schools are different to those produced by secondary schools.

Writing for Different Audiences

Communications for primary schools always address an audience of adults, whether it be local businesses, existing and prospective parents, or other members of the community interested in the school’s progress. Secondary school communications also target all the above. However, they should also address potential and existing students, especially if they run a post-16 offering.

By communicating directly with secondary school students, you are recognising their increased level of responsibility as young adults. Even if the majority of readers are parents and carers, it is important to factor in your students when producing communications.

When doing so, you must also ensure you use a consistent and appropriate tone of voice, as this will reflect how your school addresses students.

The team of content writers at Eduprise are highly experienced in writing for a broad range of different audiences, and we understand how to ensure a consistent tone of voice across all communications. If you think we could help your school improve their communications, get in touch.

Addressing Different Priorities

Primary and secondary school communications should correspond with the different parental expectations of each school:

  • Primary school communications tend to focus more on the pastoral and nurturing role of their schools.
  • Secondary schools will benefit from communications that centre around academic issues and achievements.

Nonetheless, this isn’t a hard and fast rule; good school communications reflect a balance of school responsibilities. It is also important to adjust the tone of your communications depending on the subject you are addressing. For example, addressing bullying should take a different tone to highlighting your school’s upcoming extracurricular activities.

Using Preferred Language

Primary and secondary schools often use different vocabulary on a number of issues. One of the clearest examples is how they refer to the young people who attend their school.

One option is ‘students’, which emphasises the academic responsibility of the children. It also brings a more mature image to mind through connotations of university attendees and graduates. It is therefore most appropriately used by secondary schools.

The most common alternative is ‘pupils’, which also refers to children in a more academic aspect, as subjects of the school. Unlike ‘students’ however, a younger image is brought to mind by this term. It is therefore more appropriate for use in primary school communications covering topics such as academic achievements.

More generally, ‘children’ can be used to refer to school attendees as people, rather than either ‘students’ or ‘pupils’. It conveys a more personal and caring impression, and is therefore more frequently used in primary school communications. ‘Young adults’ is another option for secondary schools who want to use a more personal touch without infantilising their students.

Whatever your preference, all communications benefit from being guided by a consistent policy. If you would like a thorough and clear school communications policy template to work from, get in touch and we’d be happy to send you one.

Writing with School Objectives in Mind

Behind all successful communications is a clear understanding of what you are trying to achieve. We must therefore ask: do the aims of primary school and secondary school communications differ?

The answer to this question is, in general, not really. For all schools, communication serves the following aims:

  • Raise and maintain the reputation and awareness of the school in the surrounding catchment area and community.
  • Keep parents and carers well-informed and encourage them to buy into the school’s vision and engage positively in school activities.
  • Boost admissions.
  • Support staff and teacher recruitment.

There is no one way in which these goals are achieved. Your school’s approach to communications is instead dependant on a variety of factors; the age group your school serves being one important aspect to consider. Above all, your school must be able to confidently answer this question with a resounding “yes”:

Do my communications fit the brand, personality, and character of my school?

At Eduprise, we have many years’ experience of writing content and planning marketing campaigns for a wide range of schools: primary and secondary, church and secular, requiring improvement and outstanding.

This experience has given us the know-how to produce the appropriate content, in the appropriate tone, for any school. To see what we can do to improve your school’s communications, drop us a line.

Published by
Adam Barker-Wyatt

Producing content and communications on behalf of schools and multi-academy trusts.

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