How to Create an Outstanding School Website

Written by Pano Savvidis // October 17, 2017

Having a fantastic school website is fast becoming one of the most important aspects to making the best first impression. Whether this be to parents, prospective employees or even students, both the look and content of the website contain essential components that come together to form your website. We already know why it’s important to have a good website, but getting that end product can be much harder. And while anybody can make a good website, in the current world of education, it’s imperative to have an outstanding one.

We’ve put together a comprehensive list of ways you can optimise your school website:

 

The Basics

No website can get off the ground without including a number of fundamental parts. Though you can make a website look as good as you want, if it doesn’t have information in it that’s useful to users, none of that really matters.

1. Contact details- The number one rule of having a school website is providing a point of contact to users. Make sure to include the name of your school, its address, telephone number and head teacher in this section at least. This makes it complaints, or praise, or even general enquiry easier to accommodate. Moreover, if you want to put your school on the map, it’s a good idea to let prospective students and parents know where you are.

2. What type of school is it? The range of educational institutions available at the moment is almost mind-boggling. To make sure users of your site encounter no confusion over what type of school you are, make sure to include this on your site- either on the home page or in an ‘about’ section. Prospective parents need to know if your school matches their guidelines. Detailing admissions arrangements or outlining how parents can find out information on them can also be put with this if necessary.

3. School curriculum- Modern schools are branching out from the traditional curriculum that we once had. Now, parents choose schools not only on their outward reputation, but on what they can offer their child. Is you school an arts school, a science school? Make sure to mention that here, alongside extracurricular activities that make your school stand out from the crowd.

4. Your pupil premium- Parents want to know how your school’s pupil premium allocation is going to affect their children. By publishing a strategy of how your school is going to spend that premium, and showing how this will impact pupils positively, this will help set parents’ minds at ease.

For a more detailed description of what to include, check out our guide to Ofsted requirements here.

 

What Makes Your School Special?

Lots of schools can have the basic information on their site, but many will fail to talk about why their school is special. They can often lose out on taking their website to the next level as a result. By talking about how great your school is on your site, this will look good to prospective teachers and families, but also cultivate a sense of pride in current school members.

1. Ofsted reports- everyone visiting your website will want to know what your school’s Ofsted rating is. It’s the most trusted and reliable source for school quality testing in the country, something people listen to. It’s important to be honest to parents, as this helps paint your school as coming from the right place. If your report is good, shout about it. Families need to be reminded that their child is in the perfect place, and prospective parents want to be impressed.

2. Exam results- Much like with Ofsted, people can take good exam results as gospel. Parents have a right to know what exactly they’re getting their child in for, and what they can learn to expect from the school. Try to include results tables or national rankings to really boost your website.

3. School achievements- A school’s success does also lie outside the classroom; outlining amazing and sometimes unique achievements- like sporting awards or book quiz prizes- can make your school and your website more memorable.

 

Core Values

Grades aren’t the only thing important to parents and students. First and foremost, comes child welfare. It is increasingly prominent in today’s day and age, and parents need to feel safe in the knowledge that their child is attending- or will be attending- a school with the best interests of their child at heart.

1. Ethos- Every school has an ethos. In many ways, it defines who you are as well as who your students turn out to be. This is what makes your school unique, so it wouldn’t be wise not to have it on your website.

2. E-safety and anti-bullying- In this digital age, children are more at danger from threats on the internet, meaning parents are increasingly concerned about how they can keep them safe. It also means much bullying now takes place online too, so it’s essential that schools have a policy on how to help prevent it from happening. As parents want to know their children are safe when they’re not with them , your school website needs to show them how you can do this. It’s also a good idea to let them know your standards, and what as a school you absolutely don’t stand for.

3. Accessibility and equality- Schools are filled with people from all sorts of cultures, backgrounds and abilities, and parents need to know their children are going to an inclusive school that will help them whenever they can. Not only this, but teachers wishing to join the school need to expect these same benefits. Moreover, visitors to your site need to be made aware of the measures your school has taken to make it accessible, like lifts, ramps or disability support officers. Making it clear on your website that your school supports everyone is a good idea if you want to show from the first impression that your school is the best place to be.

4. Pastoral care- Recently, there’s been a high focus on making sure children aren’t experiencing distress at a young age and helping improve mental health issues. It’s becoming hard to avoid, and having a good support system for children in school will really make parents feel secure in your abilities. Parents care more about their children’s well being than grades, so often a good pastoral care system is what makes your school shine. As a result, it’s wise to include information about this on your website.

 

Format

Your site can have a wealth of incredible information on it, but if it doesn’t look attractive enough to notice, or presents this information in a way unreadable to the audience, this can cause problems. Just as good design is nothing without credible information, reading materials are nothing without an accessible format on which to read it.

1. Design- Having an attractive website design is key. Whether you employ a website designer or make use of the number of free resources online, the simple fact is that if your website looks professional, people will see this as a reflection on your school. It can often influence the next steps they take in finding out more about your school. This works vice-versa too, and could put people off if you don’t get it right, so make sure to invest time into your design.

2. Pictures- This is the best way to show that your school is active, and more importantly, real. This may sound silly, but giving your school a personable face and updating the website with pictures to back up your news can help families feel involved. It’s a great way to showcase students’ achievements and make your school appear welcoming. It also makes your website look professional if you organise the pictures in a way that makes the user experience easier and more entertaining.

3. Parent friendly- If something is easy to use, people will be more likely to use it, and if people are more likely to use it, they’ll develop a real connection with your school. If you include calendars of events that families can access, and resources to help with exams and homework, you’re helping make the lives of both students and parents run smoother. This is something they’ll appreciate a lot, and will make your website something they’d struggle without, which is a sign that your website is working amazingly.

 

The most important thing to bear in mind is that your website should be updated regularly to keep it compatible with your growing school community.

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