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Understanding the new school website requirements released May 2024

In May 2024, we saw the biggest round of new school website requirements released in a while. Most schools will still be meeting most of the requirements, so there is no need for panic. But it is time to act. Here is everything you need to know.

What has changed in the new school website requirements?

In short, the information released from DfE states, "Reformatted the guidance to improve usability. Added a new section on 'Pay gap reporting', updated the 'Test, exam and assessment results' and included information about publishing a music development plan in the 'Curriculum' section."

Let's break this down.

Firstly, the 'improved usability' really is just that. The requirements have been reformatted so they're listed in alphabetical order. That immediately makes them easier to navigate.

Some requirements have been combined to make things easier to use. For example, the requirement to list your school's details on the benchmarking service has (sensibly) been moved to the section titled 'Test, exam and assessment results'.

Finally, the formatting has been changed to include individual sections such as 'what academies must publish online' in each requirement.

All in all, it is genuinely and generally easier to follow.

What are the new school website requirements?

Schools need to meet two new requirements. Let's look at these.

1/ There is an entirely new section titled 'Pay Gap Reporting'

Schools and trusts need to add a new section called Pay Gap Reporting to your website. This requirement is only labelled as a 'must' if you have over 25o employees in your organisation. However, organisations with less than 250 employees are still encouraged to publish the listed information.

If you have less than 250 employees, we advise you to make a judgement call, balancing the capacity you have to meet this requirement with the perceived benefit of doing so. Only do this if you have time to do it and keep it current.

Below is this new requirement in full:

What academy trusts, academies and FE colleges with 250 or more employees must publish

Academy trusts, academies and FE colleges with 250 or more employees must, in line with the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017:

  • report their gender pay gap information to the government via the gender pay gap service
  • publish this information in a prominent place on their website within one year of their ‘snapshot date’, which, for most public authority employers, will be 31 March

Statutory guidance on the gender pay gap information employers must report is available.

What academy trusts, academies and FE colleges with 250 or more employees may wish to publish

Most public authority employers, including academy trusts, academies and FE colleges, do not need to publish a written statement on their public-facing website.

However, academy trusts, academies and FE colleges with 250 or more employees may wish to publish:

What academy trusts, academies and FE colleges with fewer than 250 employees should publish

Academy trusts, academies and FE colleges with fewer than 250 employees:

  • are not required to comply with the regulations, but
  • should give serious consideration to the business benefits of doing so

Guidance on who counts as an employee is available.

For academy trusts, academies and FE colleges interested in looking at their ethnicity pay gap, guidance for employers on voluntary ethnicity pay reporting is also available.

2/ A music requirement has been added to the curriculum section

Schools need to publish new information about their 'music development plan'. A template has been provided, which makes this easy to achieve. Information should be published alongside your music curriculum

Here is the requirement from the curriculum section:

"Alongside the content of their music curriculum, all academies are expected to publish information about their music development plan. A template is available to support with this."

Our advice is to add this information to your curriculum section, specifically within the music part of your website, as advised. The reason is simply because it makes sense to keep information together and easy to find.

What is the best way to approach to the new requirements?

Below is the advice we always give to clients to ensure the best outcomes. Here is the latest advice based on these new requirements

  1. The new music curriculum requirement. The requirement lists this as 'should' - we're treating this as 'must'. Always approach all requirements as if they are mandatory. It is safer, more robust and demonstrate a best practice approach.

  2. Trusts should note there is a broadening of responsibility. E.g. admission arrangements very much include the trust now.

  3. Where a requirement says that it should be done by the trust. We have marked these requirements as necessary for academies too, so that both hold responsibility to know this is being done. This again, speaks to best practice.

Note also, that we do expect there to be some changes/wrinkles ironed out. This is often the case with big changes.

Where should your school's focus be?

Schools need to act to keep their websites compliant. We always say this is like mowing your lawn; get on top of it and do small amounts of work regularly. Keep on top of it. That is our overall approach to compliance and schools that follow this advice are those that worry less about compliance.

Here are some specific things you should do.

  1. Carry out an immediate audit. Schedule time to carry out an audit as soon as possible. Most schools are behind on keeping their sites compliant. Act quickly to get on top of things.
  2. Create an action plan. You will inevitable have actions to carry out once your audit is complete. Set deadlines and assign tasks to each requirement action to ensure things get done in a timely manner.
  3. Carry out Annual reviews. Be prepared to audit your site at least once every year, once you are on top of things. This is critical. Schools must be sure to do this. Not only because there are sections that must be updated each year, but it is the best way to ensure peace of mind and be prepared.
  4. Note the dates for publishing information. Throughout the requirements, there are a number of key dates. Store these dates so that you know when you need to make updates. The Schudio software includes access to a calendar that reminds you of key action dates for compliance.
  5. Be prepared for more changes. The changes we have seen so far do not cover everything we were expecting to see. When such significant changes are released, it is not unusual to see 2-3 rounds of changes over a few months. Be prepared for this by getting on top of things now so adding new content is not so onerous.

What about new trust website requirements?

Trusts will notice an increasing and broadening responsibility. The requirements have not changed very much for trusts. Still, conversations with DfE contacts and our interpretation of the new information suggest a direction of travel that will see more responsibility for the publication of information centrally. Where information is not currently required to be published centrally, trusts hold more responsibility for ensuring all their academies meet requirements.

How does Schudio approach trust requirements? We previously had a section within our guide and audit software specifically for trusts. We have removed this section. Now, trusts and see their specific requirements within the relevant sections. This is in line with how DfE is publishing the requirements.

The Schudio MAT Portal provides the tools needed to centrally manage all policies and the compliance status of all academies within a trust.

What if I need help?

Not sure where to start? That is why we are here. We are trusted by 1000s schools each year. We provide support, guidance, tools and resources that make it easier to keep school's websites compliant. Choose from the options below to get the help you need:

  1. Download the latest School Website Requirements Guide.
  2. Order a Professional School Website Audit
  3. Explore the Schudio MAT Portal to centralise your compliance efforts and save time for all your school leaders

Get immediate help by emailing hi@schudio.com. Our team are always happy to answer any questions.

FAQs

Q: What are the most significant changes in the new school website requirements?

A: The new requirements include adding a 'Pay Gap Reporting' section. There is also a 'Music Development Plan' addition to the curriculum section. The guidance has also been reformatted for better usability. This includes alphabetical listing and combining some requirements for easier navigation.

Q: Do all schools need to publish Pay Gap Reporting information?

A: Only schools and trusts with 250 or more employees are required to publish Pay Gap Reporting information. However, schools with fewer than 250 employees are encouraged to consider the benefits of doing so.

Q: Where should the music development plan be published on the school website?

A: Publish your music development plan alongside the music curriculum on the school's website. A template is provided to help with this requirement.

Q: How often should schools audit their websites for compliance?

A: Carry out an immediate audit to meet the new requirements. Then, schedule annual reviews to ensure ongoing compliance. Regular updates and reviews help maintain compliance. This helps reduce the burden of last-minute changes.

Q: What tools does Schudio offer to help with website compliance?

A: Schudio provides a range of tools. These include the latest School Website Requirements Guide, Professional School Website Audits, and the Schudio MAT Portal. These resources help schools and trusts manage compliance effectively and save time.

Q: What should trusts focus on regarding the new website requirements?

A: Be prepared to take on an increasing responsibility to ensure all trust academies meet the requirements. Centralise the management of compliance efforts. Schudio's MAT Portal can assist with this by providing the necessary tools.

Q: How can I get help with meeting the new requirements?

A: Get support from the Schudio team. We offer guidance and resources to help schools keep their websites compliant. Download the latest guide, order a professional audit, or explore the Schudio MAT Portal for comprehensive compliance management.

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