Boys’ boarding school management: understanding the choice criteria of parents
The South African secondary boarding school sector has become more competitive as schools attempt to attract and retain pupils. Management of such schools must not only address the educational and boarding needs of pupils, but also apply appropriate management and marketing principles to compete effectively with boarding schools throughout the country and beyond. Customers base their choices of products and services on their perceptions of various offerings available, evaluated according to selection criteria they deem to be important. Marketing theory uses the term “positioning” to describe the process of constructing the place that a product occupies in the customer’s mind relative to competing products. For schools in this sector to position themselves appropriately, they first need to determine the criteria parents use to evaluate one school against another. This study set out to determine these criteria. A sample of 169 parents and old boys, chosen using the database of a particular boys’ boarding school in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), South Africa, were sent questionnaires. Quantitative analysis was conducted to determine the most important criteria. The top two criteria were found to be a safe environment and competent staff.
Keywords: boarding school choice, boys’ secondary schools, choice criteria, competition amongst schools, perceptual mapping, positioning, school management, school selection