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Academies can be caught off guard by sensationalist media coverage

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It is not always the more obvious “scandals” which cause Academies and other types of school a media headache. Expect the unexpected, would seem to be the lesson to be learned from the recent media coverage of a girl who shaved her head for charity being placed in isolation. Another Academy was pilloried by the Daily Mail for sending home a girl during her Mock GCSE Exams because “her skirt was too short for classes”.

There is a roaring trade in local and regional newspapers selling these types of stories to national daily newspapers to boost their income. No one seems to be safe from this type of scrutiny, no matter how small your school, or how remote your region. The more obvious “scandals” facing Academies which hit the local and national media feature sexual abuse of one sort or another, sexting, bullying, teachers found with porn on their laptops and issues around the religious radicalisation of students within some schools in certain areas resulting in headlines such as “Trojan Horse”, culminating in Isis recruitment videos being shared on mobile phones within the school grounds.

We have noticed a marked increase in media coverage of all types of school, Academies included, resulting from a variety of “scandals” ranging from poor Ofsted results, bullying claims, a range of “sexual issues” and Islamophobia, to the more unusual, such as a school criticised for allegedly banning black trousers from discount stores, in favour of a more expensive branded uniform. One of the problems facing some Academies is that they can no longer rely on the Communications Officer from the Local Education Authority.

For us, it all about attitudes and mind-sets. Crises can and do occur. If they are not handled correctly, reputational damage ensues. Some of this is preventable and nearly all of it can be handled much better with appropriate training.

We have found that once we get the Headteacher and two or three Deputies together for a half day or a full day, we can show you how to deal with these crises as well as how to do more to prevent them.

There is a lot of scepticism and indeed, fear, out there; fear, mistrust and contempt for the local media, national media, broadcast media and social media.

The good news is that when we work with you, we are working with extremely bright, capable people who simply need to understand how the game works. This is where we come in and show you how to play to win. For every game there are rules, including the media game. We show you the rules from the inside looking out, giving you practical tools and a true insight into what you can do when a crisis hits you.

So whether you have good news to tell, or need to prepare for a media crisis, Media Friendly can help. Let our BBC experienced journalists take you, and your top team, through the media minefield.

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