How to create the best school website SEND page

Since this article was originally published we have seen a bit of a shift. There have been a few amendments to SEN information required on your school website. But that's not what we're excited about. This post was written to help you create the best possible school website SEN page. If you're looking specifically for advice on school website requirements then check out this post about the details.

I took my professional experience, having created hundreds of school websites. I also took my experience as a parent of a child with additional needs. The result is this article. The exciting part? That more and more schools are creating a rich experience and crafting beautiful website pages for families of children with additional needs.

Thank you to those schools that genuinely do everything they can to ensure our children are not treated less favourably than other pupils.

Why create the Best Possible School Website SEND Page?

Day to day, your school website is about three key audiences; parents/students, prospective parents/students and Ofsted inspectors. Ok, that last one is less day to day but they're always there, lurking in the shadows!

There are lots of nuances within those groups. For example, the needs of a primary school audience differ from that of a high school. There are also different groups within those. One of these is the families of children and young people with additional needs. In this post, we'll look at one of the specific areas of your school website requirements and help you get it spot on!

How do you create the best website experience for those visitors? How do you create the best possible school website SEN page?

The answers to how to create the best possible SEN page also apply to every single page on your website.

If you're in the habit of putting together a rich picture of life in school, brilliant! Make sure you're doing it for families that need to know they'll be included fully too. By following just a few simple steps you can create a brilliant page on your school website for families of children with additional needs.

Everything you'll read below is based on the following ideal; "how do we make sure that we are the best school we can be to care for and educate children with additional needs?" That's the motivator.

It's worth remembering that parents of children with additional needs have to fight for, literally everything. By taking the time to create a part of your website that makes life just a little bit easier for them when they're looking for a school, you will be making a big difference.

Don't rely on policies alone

Firstly, and we see this over and over again when we're creating websites for schools, it's so important to do more than just provide policy information. If we're trying to convey the best possible message for families then we need to do more than just box-check.

A single page on your website is plenty, but it should contain at least the following information:

  • A message written by the Head and/or SENCO explaining why your school is the best place for students with additional needs.
  • Explanations of what life in school looks like, how you include the children, your commitment to ongoing training and development.
  • Explain what day to day provision looks like in your school. The needs of each child will vary hugely, even if there is more than one child with the same "additional need". Explain how you cater for the varied needs of the children.
  • Work on and effectively convey your commitment to working with the parents of the children, working hard to understand their unique situation and listening to and trusting their judgement. Reassure parents that you see each child as an individual.
  • Make sure you know how not to offend. A child with Down's Syndrome, for example, is never "a Down's child." That's offensive to parents. Get clued up!
  • Include your policies here, but don't forget they need to be included on your policies page as well. (If that sounds like a technical nightmare, have a look at how Schudio websites help you manage and display policies in multiple locations.)
  • Photos are brilliant if you have them available. Don't overdo it and certainly don't use stock photos. But if you have photos of children in your school that you have permission to use and are appropriate, they'll act as reassurance to prospective parents that you know what you're doing.

If you're simply linking to the local governments offer or you're just displaying policies. Please think about improving your site to be more inclusive.

Make sure you're compliant with Ofsted requirements regarding SEN

We recently found through data from our School Website Compliance Software that many, many (many!) schools are not compliant. The requirements for your website from DfE state that you must include specific information on how your school complies with, amongst others,  Section 69(2) of the Children and Families Act 2014. One of the latest amendments is that you must comply with "Regulation 51 and schedule 1 of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014 where appropriate."

As an aside, read this page: The Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014. Do you know for sure that your policies comply with this part of the very latest legislation?

So, are you compliant? If you're not sure, take a look at the definitive guide to school website requirements. We'll keep you up to date with what's required but it's not something that can just be ignored. Nor should it be.

Provide working examples of how you support children with additional needs

Your policies should include information relevant to this, but in reality, parents are looking for simple reassurance. Firstly, that their son or daughter will get the best possible chance at an education, whatever their abilities. Secondly, and certainly in our experience, more importantly, they're looking to be reassured that their son or daughter will be part of your school family.

How will you make sure the child is included in your school fully? Demonstrate this in what you put on your SEN page.

Make it clear you want to partner with the family

Families are looking for a school they can partner with to care for and love their child. They need open doors and a place they can trust. Here's just a few questions that go through the minds of every parent of a child with additional needs:

How will you make sure that you do everything you can to encourage genuine inclusion?
What steps will you take to ensure the child makes friends and is a true part of life in school?
How will you make sure the school is a safe environment?
What training will you undertake to learn how to not offend the family?
What training will you undertake to make sure you know what questions to ask and what parents want to know when they come to look round?

In practice, parents often know that school staff at stuck in the middle of the medical professionals and the parents. The best relationships seem to be when everyone does everything they can to work together and communicate effectively. One of the best things can be a simple communication book. Staff write in how the day has gone, parents take it home at night and can respond and ask any questions, bringing it back into school the next day. It's a simple tactic but it works wonders.

Some School Website SEN Page Examples

Here are a few we like:

Fairfield Primary School
Stifford Clays Primary School
Sir William Stanier School
Little Ilford School

Think all this through, put a plan in place and put it on your website. Nicole just said to me, "Think. Plan. Post." That might be our new slogan!

The golden rule here is to treat this part of your website as importantly as you treat any other. If you need any help or support just drop us a line. Lots of schools have already taken this critical advice and acted upon it. If you haven't already and need help, do let us know. We appreciate that it isn't easy.

We would love to chat this through with you in more detail.

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