AMCIS announces IMPACT Award winners 2023 - AMCIS

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AMCIS announces IMPACT Award winners 2023

AMCIS has announced the eight winning schools in the 2023 AMCIS IMPACT Awards.

The IMPACT Awards celebrate the work of admissions, marketing and communications teams in AMCIS member schools by rewarding campaigns which have made a significant impact on schools and their communities. Entrants must demonstrate the way in which an initiative has made a measurable difference to their school.

This year there were seven categories plus the judges’ discretionary Team of the Year Award.

Representatives of the winning schools in the AMCIS 2023 IMPACT Awards are pictured at the awards ceremony with host, actress and voice-over artist Jo Pickard, and AMCIS chair David Milner

The winners were announced at a special ceremony, hosted by actress and voice-over artist Jo Pickard. AMCIS chair David Milner – Director of Marketing & International Relations, Sedburgh School – presented the trophies. He said:

“ The high standard of entries has presented a difficult task to the judges and is a testament to the outstandingly creative and progressive initiatives that are helping independent schools around the country to thrive. My thanks to the judges and the AMCIS Team for all their hard work, and also to everyone who took the time to join in and submit an entry – or, in some
cases, multiple entries.”

The 2023 AMCIS IMPACT Award winners were selected from a shortlist of schools in each category. They are:

ADMISSIONS Award – Merchant Taylor’s School, Crosby

Head of admissions Deborah Roberts (centre) collects the award for Admissions on behalf of Merchant Taylor’s School, Crosby. With ceremony host Jo Pickard (left) and AMCIS chair David Milner. Other schools on the shortlist were: Greenfield School, Kingston Grammar School, Pangbourne College, and Woldingham School.

Merchant Taylor’s School, Crosby used admissions and academic staff working groups, outreach and widening participation to reverse a longstanding decline in pupil numbers.

The judges said: “…the initiative had been well thought through with a coherent strategy and action plan that has resulted in an impressive increase in enquiries, visits and enrolments. More important than actual pupil numbers is an understanding of the financial value that each extra pupil may bring to a school and this team demonstrated a clear awareness of this – I am sure that the school’s leadership team and governors will have been delighted to read what the success of the campaign has meant to the school’s bottom line!”

BRANDING Award – Kingston Grammar School

Director of marketing & admissions Alison Williams receives the Branding award on behalf of Kingston Grammar School for their #MoreThanJustASixthForm campaign. Other schools on the shortlist were: Silcoates School, St Margaret’s School (Bushey), St Michael’s Prep School, and The Portsmouth Grammar School.

Inspired by pop art, Kingston Grammar school used student profile images and bios to tell individual stories in a sixth form rebrand that resulted in a significant increase in open evening visitors and registrations.

The judges said: “This is a very well-targeted piece of branding and is visually engaging and appropriate for the 15+ audience.  It is a logical, consistent development from the school’s central branding while being at the same time exciting, different and bold. The pictorial treatment is contemporary and arresting and yet maintains the gravitas inherent in this academically selective school. It was great seeing such a refreshing treatment for this age group.”

COMMUNICATIONS Award – Benenden School

Director of marketing & communications Ian Read receives the Communications award for Benenden School. Other schools on the shortlist were: City of London Freemen’s School, Oakham School, Strathallan School, and Woldingham School.

Benenden School undertook a multi-faceted campaign, delivered in four stages, to successfully launch a new music venue to multiple audiences.

The judges said: “This is a sophisticated communications campaign that used a broad spectrum of media to reach differing audiences – in the wider community as well as the school itself – and dovetailed with recruitment, academic and public relations activity. They have deftly embraced the wider community as part of their long term plans, with this initial campaign resulting in significant subscriber numbers to a new mailing list.”

DIGITAL Award – Durham School

Celebrating Durham School’s award for their Digital campaign #ForGirls is director of admissions and marketing Mike Parker. Other schools on the shortlist were: Kingston Grammar School, Mount St Mary’s College, Radley College, and St Michael’s Prep School.

Durham School’s digital campaign set out to dispel that myth that, despite admitting girls in 1985, it remains a school for boys only.

The judges said: “The campaign addressed a specific school need and had a strong message which continues to be extremely relevant and timely. It involved the whole school community, with pupil- generated content, and took advantage of community and national initiatives. The impact of the campaign when comparing the budget and the results showed good value for money.”


Teacher and EDI lead Gideon Hammond (2nd left) and head of communications Edward Funnell receive the EDI award on behalf of Eltham CollegeOther schools on the shortlist were: ACS International Egham, Bedales School, and Bedford Modern School.

Eltham College addressed the mispronunciation of pupils’ names – which some said made them feel undignified, insecure and inferior – by integrating phonetic spelling into school systems.

The judges said: “Building on other EDI projects, this insightful initiative has taken practical steps to minimise mispronunciation of names. As well as phonetic spellings on class registers, staff can now listen to audio files of students speaking their own name. With its well-executed launch campaign, this project has embraced diversity, changed school procedures to be more inclusive, educated the school community, and made an ongoing positive impact to the lives of existing and new pupils and their families. The feedback from pupils, staff and parents is impressive.” 

SMALL BUDGET Award – Crosfields School

Director of external relations Jo Philips  (2nd from right) and digital marketing co-ordinator Chantelle Root accept the award for a Small Budget initiative on behalf of Crosfields School. Other schools on the shortlist were: Heathfield School, Pangbourne College, Stamford Schools, and Strathallan School.

Crosfields School added some ‘magic’ to its post-offer communications in order to make the school stand out from its competitors.

The judges said: “This initiative was designed and executed in house and added a touch of magic to the occasion of receiving an offer from the school. The whole family could share in the delight of the offer both during and after the ‘golden ticket’ was opened. The result was a 139% increase in deposit payments within the first quarter of this academic year, demonstrating the immediate impact that this campaign has had on the enrolment journey. Congratulations!”

STRATEGIC MARKETING Award – Strathallan School

Jubilant alumni development manager Aileen Wilson (centre) and marketing manager Helen Lewis-McPhee celebrate receiving the Strategic Marketing trophy on behalf of Strathallan SchoolOther schools on the shortlist were: Bootham School, High School of Glasgow, Repton School, and The Leys School, Cambridge.

Strathallan School set out to raise brand awareness and increase boarding applications from specific UK target areas, resulting in an almost doubling of year-on-year enquiries.

The judges said: “The local and national strategic campaign achieved excellent results across every strategic goal, and on every channel. Ambitious goals and targets were achieved through strategy and investment, but one which will generate an excellent return on investment. Their use of inspiring and dynamic visuals clearly supported the campaign well. This was a true multi-media campaign across publications, social, digital, broadcast and instream, with good use of tech e.g. QR codes etc.” 

TEAM OF THE YEAR Award – St Michael’s Prep School (Otford)

The judges’ discretionary award for Team of the Year was collected on behalf of 
St Michael’s Prep School (Otford) by director of marketing & admissions Jane Thornton (2nd from left) and marketing & media officer Taz Usher.

The highly collaborative team at St Michael’s Prep School used a small budget to deliver a combination of digital & branding initiatives that resulted in a surge in early acceptances for places and a ten-fold increase in Instagram followers.

The judges said: “The team have worked collaboratively and created fantastic impact for their school [including] one of the best prospectuses the judges have ever seen as it truly depicts what a prep school education should be. They created a suite of videos linked to the ethos of the school. Once a family has visited, tailored videos are sent to them to enhance their experience of the school. Video was also embedded in weekly emails and social media to ensure that everyone in the community was able to share the content, thus promoting visibility.”

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