It’s customary for private schools to develop a school prospectus, a brochure that introduces parents to the school and explains important school policies their children will be expected to follow. If you’re on a committee charged with developing a school prospectus, you’ll want to make sure that all committee members meet to share their vision of the school before any significant work is done toward developing the prospectus. Above all, be specific when it comes to defining learning objectives and setting limits on student behavior.
Start with a mission statement. It’s helpful to emphasize that the school strives to maintain a safe environment for the students. You should also briefly mention the kind of behavior and principles your school will seek to foster in the students. For example, some schools say they want to encourage children to treat others with respect while at the same time learning how to respect for themselves.
Follow the mission statement with a bulleted list of personal development characteristics you want the students to achieve. These sentences should begin with infinitive verbs. For example, you can say, “To foster an atmosphere where all students feel they are valued members of the community.”
Discuss your school’s learning policy. Again, begin with a general introductory sentence which sums up the school’s learning philosophy. Follow this with a bulleted list that identifies benchmarks of a positive learning environment. For example, you might say that students learn best when they actively participate in the lesson or that they feel valued when teachers encourage them to share their knowledge with their peers.
Describe the school’s organization. For example, if your school teaches pre-school students, you might explain the different sections students are divided into and then discuss the curriculum that is taught within those sections.
Explain the school’s homework policy. Tell parents why and how you believe homework benefits students. State whether parents should help their students with homework and under what conditions.
Set forth the school’s code of behavior. Specify exactly what kinds of behavior in students the school will not tolerate. Explain the staff’s approach to managing student behavior. For example, how is bad behavior punished? Are students rewarded for good behavior? Finally, describe lessons designed to teach children good behavior.
Expect that your prospectus will have to explain—in detail—the measures the school takes to ensure children are safe. Specify which school personnel are responsible for protecting children and explain safety programs in place, such as lock down procedures or how the school responds if a student gets hurt or becomes ill.
Detail the attendance policy. Parents need to know how many absences their students are permitted each year and what kinds of absences are authorized. Also, must students bring a doctor’s note if they have been absent for illness? And does the school allow students to be absent for special religious observances?
Finish the prospectus with a section on children preparing for school. How do you suggest parents help their students deal with the anxiety of starting school? Who on your staff is available to guide parents and help students make this important transition?