What do you look for, or want, from a primary school website?(25 Posts)
Just been on a course about this but it seemed a bit biased towards secondary tbh. So not altogether relevant.
But if you are a prospective parent, would you think to visit the schools website and what kind of thing would make the school stand out to you via it? What are you looking for, to make you want to come and visit?
And if you're a parent - what do you want to see on the school website?
Or do people tend to use the social media links for their schools instead?
DD is secondary now, but I tend to look at their FB page most, and only really visit the website when I need something specific such as a ink to the online parent's evening forms or to pay something. At primary I went to class pages to look at photographs after trips, etc.
Its too long ago now to hen she started school and we were first looking - online stuff wasn't really that big even then.
Key Stage Curriculum information with links to supporting websites/books/reading tree resources
Inset days dates
Special event dates - book day, Children in Need, cake sales, whatever - with lists of what's needed/cost
Trip days with lists of what's needed/cost
Parents Evening dates
Sports Day dates
Christmas play/carols/Easter service/Summer fair/whatever dates with cost/dress code/costume requirements
Dates for everything with plenty of warning!
Emails of secretary/reception/teaching/teaching assistant/pastoral staff
Parent/Teachers Association contact details
Nearly New uniform sales dates
Lost Property opening times
Before/After School Club details - dates, times, costs, contacts, application forms
Forms repository - permissions forms, health forms, whatever blessed forms that come home and could go missing, on there, with dates and reasons!
Also, how up to date would you expect the website to be? Or how often updated?
Calendar calendar calendar
As far ahead as possible
Termly header "this term yr 2 will need to bring in 2 old t shirts, a jar, 17 pages of newspaper and a stuffed toy - we will tell you exact timings as soon as we can"
If the school is trying to go paperless and putting a load of stuff you need to access on the website - please don't do what the kids' school has done and put a bloody autoplaying promotional video with super loud bouncy soundtrack on the front page! It drives me mad every time I go on there to pay for stuff or check newsletters or whatever as it's so bloody loud!
- Dates, including info if is only provisional
- Trips details
- Uniform rules, plus where to purchase logo uniform, plus info on second hand sales
- What your child needs for school info (e.g. in juniors need pencil case containing xyz)
- Helping with reading info
- Maths calculations methods
I would far rather a simple website that is kept up to date, than a fancy one the office staff can't update themselves easily.
We have things like the reading info, phonics phonemes, maths calculation methods and facts it's handy to have on quick recall in the front of the kids' reading diaries which I quite like in that it's always to hand if someone is helping them with their homework.
I just don't want to be greeted with "Waaah-aaahhh oooohhh-aaaah" blaring out of my speakers every time I open our school's page! (Rough approximation of how much of the music plays before I manage to hit the mute button usually)
I think a primary school needs to decide if their website will be
- kept regularly updated and is therefore a record of things happening at school now
- not kept regularly updated and is therefore mainly a source of fairly static information such as term dates/school meals info/school policies etc.
I'd love the former sort of website but accept it is a big job!
DD's school is set up in a format that looks like it should be giving regular news, but the "latest news" is from September, which just makes it look shoddy and leaves you in doubt as to whether other information is correct.
Thanks all; lots to consider.
There are certain things that have to be legally on there but the rest is up to the school.
And who to update is key - likelihood is it's down to the head or class teachers. Office staff wouldn't be doing this in general unless a specific part of their job. But the issue then is some class pages will be updated more than others.
We've been told having up to date clear high quality images (and video) is a key essential, and what parents actually spend most time looking at when sites are analysed. But legal policies less likely other than when ofsted are due and they look!
Admissions criteria please.
Lots of schools my way are in a federation. A bunch of them have variations of the same name. I have four degrees and after 30 minutes on the site I genuinely couldn't find what the criteria were for each school, and where they measured distance from.
Our school has a Twitter feed which is updated several times a day with comments and pictures from school, so always looks fresh with new information.
All our letters and newsletters go on there as well as being emailed to us, as well as term dates, dates for diaries, homework, school policies, admissions information, PTA news.
In terms of who does it, we have someone in the office in charge of updating documents and all the teachers can tweet.
Calendar, updated as far ahead and in as much detail as possible.
All letters in pdf format
These are my essentials. And totally agree with the autoplay video annoyance, ours have removed theirs now thank goodness. No videos, just text and pictures please, when I want information I DO NOT want to have to wade through a video to get it.
Link to Ofsted report and results information.
I love that our school regularly puts photos up there on what's happening in school (Stone Age workshop, Remembrance Day, Children in need day etc etc). They don't have a Facebook or twitter page.
Personally I would really like to see info on what the governors are doing, and the school improvement plan or other strategic information (our school has that).
Past copies of newsletters
I don't want any videos. Maybe that's a secondary thing.
In terms of updating it - the school pay someone to come in every Friday to keep the website updated (I happened to be told this by the Head at a recents parents eve when she was canvassing opinions about whether the school should have a Facebook page).
Calendar. Last year we had intended sports days in October: brilliant! Could book the time off work.
copies of all letters already sent home
Uniform details (very clear)
No budget to pay someone to update the website, especially in a smallish school. It'll be existing staff, as an additional.
Some of the things are legal requirements such as admissions (or links to - ours is all LEA based, so linked to there) and various policies.
And in terms of your child's class pages?
And thoughts on social media?
Apparently over 70% of the UK eligible population have FB and around 25% of the same population have Twitter. So is social media now an expectation or even a wish from parents?
I find FB brilliant in terms of how one of mine's preschool uses it to remind about inset days, end of term, non uniform stuff etc. The school however has a head whose use of social media is confined to spending far too much time obsessing about if parents are saying anything about her and then ranting about it to the new intake parents - so the odds of us going officially facebooky are minimal!
Everyone else has made great comments already. From my point of view...(one DC at primary, one due to start next year)..
Separate section for prospective parents / students with admission criteria, things to prepare DC for school, equipment list.
My big one is clear info about the wrap around care if any exists. It is like a magic code you need to crack to get clear info or contact numbers anywhere here before your child gets accepted.
For parents, our school had a calendar online and you can link it to your phone - this might be quite common but I was amazed - it's fantastic.
All newsletters on website
A who's who for staff with photos - very useful for Xmas cards .
Our school website is pretty good actually.
There must be more but think it's already been said.
Going to go through it all carefully to get together more specific questions for our actual parents too.
It's just a case of time!
Years ago I was responsible for researching a new website for the primary school I taught in. I set up a Survey Monkey questionnaire to find out what parents wanted the website to include.
They wanted photos, newsletters (online and ideally by email too), an up-to-date calendar, a full staff list, curriculum info., links to paying for meals online and a page for the PTA. With the help of School Jotter, I set up a website that contained all of those things along with the legal requirements. My feeling was that the website should be useful for current parents rather than solely as a prospectus for future parents so I included things such as a clickable link to teachers' school email (with a sentence explaining it may take a few days to receive a reply) and the school meals menu.
A few years later, the school was taken over and it's now been consumed by a federation. It's lost its website and has an identikit federation one which is useless. The online payment isn't even the current provider's, the photos are old and tired, it's hard to navigate and it's only possible to email teachers if you know their first name. There's nothing from the PTA on there, the classrooms are never photographed any more and it's all a bit depressing.
Thank yo. That's useful information, and ties in with much of what I've gathered so far.
Photographs are the biggie we have found so far - most parents want lots of lovely photographs of happy smiley children at work and play.
And social media - seems to be a definite desire to have social media from our younger parents especially, but also across the board of ages TBH.
We do not do photos. Some parents want them, others will not have signed the consent form, so their children must be excluded. Most staff do not want the bother of this. Parents can take photos of their own children, for private use, at school events but we do not use them on the web site. Think carefully about this. Who is taking the photos? What else might they do with them?
We do not have class pages either. We do have a weekly newsletter that is emailed to parents. The legal side of the web site is vital and it is one on the first things Ofsted will look at. Therefore all the things you must have, must be there. Don't forget detailed pupil premium spending and outcomes for example. The prospectus is also there.
In a relatively small school, continual updates with pictures of all classes is a pain. Who has the time? Or the money? It is a total diversion from what the school should be doing. Our admin staff do the updating, ( it is fairly infrequent but meets legal requirements) and certainly not the Head or teachers. Newsletters are way easier to send out! We do Parent Pay as well. You have to balance what people want (why do they want loads of pictures???) with your resources. Social media? Most schools use it for PR. "Amazing results", Top in tiddlywinks" - or a Facebook grumble page? Parents cannot always have exactly what they want and Ofsted will crucify you if you do not have what they want! Expend your energy there.
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