Date: December 2017

Mounts Bay Academy came to us with a clear brief: make an anti-prospectus. We took this and created a piece of print that rebels against the traditional publication in every aspect.

Mounts Bay is a forward-thinking academy, dedicated to providing their students with the opportunities, support and inspiration to pursue their passions. And this shines through in the successes – academic, athletic and creative – of their students. We wanted to make a standout prospectus that celebrated the school’s ambition and adventurousness as well as its achievements.

A two-page spread in the Mounts Bay prospectus by Nixon Design. A title section in the Mounts Bay prospectus, with cut-out sections and a wiro bind. A double spread in the Mounts Bay Academy prospectus.
A spread filled with student quotes in the Mounts Bay Academy prospectus by Nixon Design. A double-page picture spread in the Mounts Bay Prospectus, showing the wiro bind.

The concept

We started by identifying the audiences and the aims of the project. Prospective students need to be excited and inspired, while parents want to know that their children will get the best education, so we had to balance these things. We separated the prospectus into two narratives, one to attract and entertain a primary school child and one to inform the parent.

This dovetailed perfectly with the academy’s adventure learning ethos, a progressive approach to teaching that gets great results. We flipped this phrase around to become ‘Learning adventurously’ – the title and unifying theme of the project – balancing school experience and academic results, yet prioritising education. We then swapped out ‘adventurously’ for words based on the academy’s values, with each value becoming a section and guiding the content.

The front cover of the Mounts Bay Academy prospectus, with cut-out sections and a wiro bind.
The front and back covers of Mounts Bay's wiro-bound school prospectus.

The format

We explored different ways to represent these two themes in the design and format, deciding on a wiro bind with cut-out content inserts. The inserts provide the factual information, while the main spreads showcase the school experience. With the two content types physically separated out, the audience – whether parent or child – can interact with the prospectus as they like, and each theme supports the other. The wiro bind is also reminiscent of spiral notebooks, and the whole piece looks and feels unusual and exciting.

Gathering content

Turning the usual process on its head, we went to the students for the experiential content. It’s an anti-prospectus, after all, and who knows the school better than the students? To kick-start the project we met with a small group and discussed what they thought was important about the academy, which sparked our ideas for content. We spent a lot of time at the academy, seeing what it was like during a normal school day, sports day and adventure learning week, and talking with students and staff.

The result is a colourful and expressive piece that gives a true idea of what it’s like to be a student at Mounts Bay Academy. From poetry, opinions and personal thoughts to artwork, equations and aspirations, the prospectus is packed with student work and insight. The candid shots of happy faces tell the whole story.

A student paints during a workshop for the academy prospectus. A student cuts up a painting for the Mounts Bay Academy prospectus. A student paints the word 'Bold' on a piece of paper in an art workshop. A Mounts Bay student creates a piece of art for the school prospectus.
An open spread of the Mounts Bay Academy prospectus showing sports day. Mounts Bay students play tug of war at the school sports day. A Mounts Bay student sings and plays guitar at the school sports day.

Copywriting

For the informative dividers aimed at parents, we drew up a page plan and researched the content, picking out the academy’s selling points and important details. Each insert needed to be roughly the same length, and each value had to have the same amount of inserts. We wrote in an energetic and accessible style, which reflects the academy's ethos, instils excitement and allows the reader to easily digest the text.

The snippets punctuate the prospectus, giving the parents everything they need to know without overcrowding the visual content on the main spreads.

A cut-out content insert in the Mounts Bay Academy prospectus, which is wiro bound.
A stack of prospectuses designed by Nixon for Mounts Bay Academy.
Different colour paints smeared on a bit of oriented strand board.

Sara Davey, Principal

The prospectuses have been received by parents and visitors alike to universal acclaim. Our recruitment numbers for this year are buoyant both for next year’s Year 7 and in-year admissions. The team at Nixon was a joy to work with because they helped get underneath the skin of the Academy and produce a prospectus that is both authentic and beautiful. Thanks once again to all the team.