03 Aug Get your school website Ofsted ready
Having an engaging, informative website that is easy to navigate and update is, or should be, a key aim for every school in the country. However, as your main channel of online communications, it is also a crucial tool when it comes to impressing the Ofsted ‘powers that be’.
Firstly, Ofsted inspectors normally spend time reviewing a school’s website, social media channels and other online communications event before they step foot inside the school gate. Secondly, having a good website is attractive to parents, who can be strong allies for your school when it comes to generating favourable, third-party feedback during an inspection. Then, of course, it is usually the first way that potential parents come across you and find out more about what you can offer their child. Also, potential new staff will take a look at your website to familarise themselves with the school prior to their interview.
There is certain information that Ofsted requires school to add to their website and failure to do so can result in a negative grade or prompt an unwanted inspection. All policies must be clear to read and easy to find and should include, but not be limited to:
- child safeguarding
- special educational needs
- health and safety
- equal opportunities
- curriculum maps
⇒ Consider creating a special page or section on your website for these to live, and make sure they are regularly updated and reviewed.
Contact details must also be provided (name, address, telephone number…), along with:
- exam and assessment results
- performance tables
- complaints procedures
- SENCO contact details
- information about your pupil premium strategy.
⇒ You must also provide a copy or a link to your most recent Ofsted report.
Most of your school website’ content should be firmly aimed at parents with children currently at your school. This should include all the basics:
- admissions information
- notable holiday and term dates
- uniform guidelines
- lunch menus
- staff and governors contact lists
- topics covered by the curriculum
⇒ Many parents also like to read compelling mission statements and text about your school‘s values and ethos. They want to be able to access previous Ofsted reports and other independent assessments and reviews. It goes without saying that all areas must be up to date, accurate and easily navigable.
Then, there are the more engaging extras that are a highly effective way to differentiate your school and show its character. These can include:
- contributions from pupils
- news about alumni
- photo galleries (taking into account parents’ wishes about using their children’s images online)
- news about local community links, initiatives, VIP visits and fundraising efforts.
⇒ Providing details about any after-school or lunchtime activities and hobby groups can also help parents decide if yours is the school for them. Does your school have an active parent fundraising group? If so, publishing any successes, appeals and details of forthcoming events can also add to the overall story of a thriving, family-friendly community.
Your school website is, as previously discussed, your main online marketing tool. It should stand out, as it will be competing with numerous other school websites that parents will be flicking through. Bright colours, a clear brand identity and plenty of pictures of children in situ will help give it character and make sure it remains in your audience’s mind for some time after they have visited it. Feedback from teachers and parents confirms the importance of images of happy, focused children highlighting the entire school’s offering across all age groups and taking in academics, sport, music and drama, school trips and the wider, natural world.
Finally, don’t forget how large the internet actually is. This may seem an obvious statement to make, but Ofsted inspectors are encouraged to search for your school online to find out what its impact is on its wider community and stakeholders. Make sure your social media channels reflect your school in the right way and deal with any negative feedback or content as soon as you come across it. You should aim to limit who can post on social media channels and set up a clear approvals process and procedure for signing off new content. Ensure, too, that your website is search-engine friendly and that you are making the most of your SEO capabilities with intuitive key words and a well-planned site map.
Finally, have you considered an audit into your school’s brand identity? Keeping your website’s content up to date is all very well, but it will become a far stronger marketing tool if you can be confident that your school’s overarching identity, logo and branding all match the values and ethos you are aiming to portray online and face to face with prospective and existing families.
At Detail we have extensive experience creating effective design work for the Education Sector.
We are proud to include clients from University College London (UCL), right through to primary and nursery. We would love to chat to you about your requirements and for a no obligation initial discussion, please do get in touch.