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  • July 10th 2024
  • Blog

Private schools VAT planning: using internet marketing to stay ahead 

When we’re faced with tax increases, it’s hard to think outside the box. We go immediately into defence mode. Instinct may say to assess costs and make budget cuts within your organisation. But why not plan proactively rather than reactively?

The Labour landslide victory in the 4th July election may not have come as a surprise. But now that it is a reality, many sectors are looking at how the party’s manifesto policies will affect them. One high profile and much talked about policy is the removal of VAT exemption for private education institutions. 

Budget timeline

The first Labour budget is predicted to happen in September at the earliest. This is because the OBR (Office for Budget Responsibility) requires 10 weeks to produce an impact report. It’s incredibly unlikely that any changes to private schools’ VAT status would be made after the start of the academic year. This means that changes would affect school fees from the academic year beginning September 2025.

Payment plans

It’s been widely reported that some schools are taking advance payments in order to receive fees before any changes in VAT exemption come into force. This may help in the short term for some circumstances. However, many families are unable to manage this large upfront outlay, and it’s certainly not a sustainable ongoing strategy. So, it’s important to think about what the new VAT status of private education establishments means in the long term.

Competition

In real terms, the increase that we will see from the addition of VAT to private school fees will mean that there is more competition for students. At least over the next few years. As with any change in legislation, there will be a period of transition before the new set up becomes normalised. So how is best to navigate this period? Essentially, schools that have well thought out marketing strategies will reap the benefits. This is the time to ensure that a school has a strong brand and a good web presence. 

Search ranking

The visibility of a school’s website on search results pages is a huge factor in the overall marketing strategy for private schools. This is already true of many businesses. So schools can learn a lot from how these businesses use SEO to improve their client leads. While much emphasis is placed on current student results and achievements, it’s how this information is communicated that will make the difference.

SEO for private schools

Clearly, parents select their child’s school for different reasons and in different ways. The intricacies of SEO for private school websites can ensure that an establishment appears as a prominent search result for a variety of search terms. Then there’s optimising your visibility on platforms such as Google maps. The websites of successful schools need to be optimised to play the search algorithm and come out on top. It’s a detailed process, but one that will form a key part of the marketing strategy of those private schools that manage to stay ahead of the competition.  

Contact us at Leapfrog Internet Marketing to find out about our dedicated education institution SEO strategies.

Becky Hinshelwood
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