Built hundreds of website and helped countless schools realise their potential online. Ian should be called upon for straight-talking advice and to make a difference to the way you present your school through every outlet.
Coronavirus has had a monumental impact on so many aspects of school life. As soon as lockdown happened we were inundated with requests for very specific help from our school website clients. There were lots of questions about how to add certain types of content and how to use features that were suddenly brought to the fore. A number of clients have been in touch because their usual website manager isn't available.
Throughout the last few months, our online platform, SchudioTV has provided much needed on-demand training and continues to do so.
In the midst of so much uncertainty, one thing is sure. The school website has claimed it's rightful place as the primary source of information for the school community.
But, with schools moving towards a full reopening, how do we make sure your website builds on this? And, are there specific requirements or information you need to consider?
In this post, we'll look at what you should be doing with your school website to build on the goodwill and momentum gathered during the coronavirus pandemic. Here's how to make the most of all you have achieved.
Let's get the statutory requirements out of the way. For a while, when the government has released information on what you should publish on your school website it does not automatically add it to the page with the statutory requirements. Take safeguarding; schools are required to publish information on safeguarding but you will find no mention of that here. Yet it is a requirement.
The same is true of your health and safety risk assessment in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
"Schools should share the results of their risk assessment with their workforce. If possible, they should consider publishing it on their website to provide transparency of approach to parents, carers, and pupils (HSE would expect all employers with over 50 staff to do so)." (See Guidance for full opening: schools)
Note that the word 'should' is used. It's not a 'must'.
But, in keeping with our aim to always seek best practice, we always encourage schools to act on the 'shoulds' as much as the 'musts'.
Your LA or Trust will be able to help you with making sure your risk assessment is robust. Here is a great article from Primary Leaders to support your efforts.
Also, note that there are specific directions in relation to SEND students and risk assessments and that you need to involve parents in the decisions about their children.
Your website provides a great opportunity to be a reassurance to families that are worried about children returning to school. Think about how you can use your website to continue to provide the information that parents are looking for.
Timely, informative, helpful content is always a good idea.
When parents are feeling anxious, having access to information, and being able to contact school is a big help. Share information that will be a reassurance and make yourself available. Parents and students who have had regular contact with their teachers, TAs, and have had regular updates from the school leaders are likely to feel more confident. Those who have heard little are much less likely to be confident.
Many schools have a COVID section front and centre on their school websites - this is brilliant as a way of keeping families up to date with the latest information.
It is important that this now includes helpful information on the transition back into school.
Some Resources to Support Transition Back into School
Think about using your website to share resources that will reassure parents and students and provide them with the help and advice they need. You have an amazing opportunity to use your website for so much good.
Thinking longer term, this kind of information is also what inspectors will be looking for. Make your website helpful, inclusive and support for your school community.
School websites were put under a huge amount of strain at the beginning of lockdown as schools scrambled amazingly well to bring together huge ranges of resources. The content was collated and rich learning environments were shared incredibly quickly.
What an achievement!
To give you an insight into how significant the change was, as a school website provider, we saw a 1200% increase in traffic to school websites in the initial few weeks!
But, what can we learn for this looking forward? Here are a few thoughts.
One of the best things we saw happen was schools creating fantastic hubs or resources. Also brilliant to see was how existing technology was used in creative ways to share student's achievements while they were at home.
Take St Bartholomew's C of E Primary School in Yorkshire.
They decided to use their school Blogs and activate Comments so that parents, teachers, and school leaders can all view their student's work and add comments. It is a beautiful way to create a collaborative, encouraging record of their school work.
It's been incredible to see how schools have creatively used their websites to share resources. Schools have done an incredible job.
It's important to maintain that momentum and continue to use your website as a resources platform.
Keep sharing exceptional content. Encourage your school community to use your website as a place to access the information they need. Schools have built up a level of credibility for their websites as trusted places of information, even more so than ever before. You can maintain this by still using your website in this way.
How does that look? Here are some actions you can take to make your website continue to serve your school community as a resource centre.
Crowcroft Park - COVID-19 & Mental Wellbeing
This is fantastic! Front and centre on their website, a great resource to support mental wellbeing in the wake of COVID-19.
Walmsley C of E Primary School - Home Learning Section
Another brilliant example - lots of resources, clearly structured and easy to navigate. Plus, examples of children's work collected during lockdown to create a beautiful picture of all the students have achieved during this time.
Federation of Boldmere Schools - Home Learning Resources
A huge range of resources to cover all the students and parents needs. It's amazing to see how much work went into this!
During this period we have all had to adapt quickly and dramatically. Your first task is to ensure that the information you need to share with your school community through your school website is clear, easy to find, and easy to read.
Then, the focus needs to be on building upon what we have learned. Think about what you have been able to achieve, look back on those things, and keep the very best of them. Use the best things you have learned to build for the future.
Your school website is never going to be the same again.
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