What are Ofsted looking for in 2018?

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If you're facing 'the window' in the next 12 months or trying to get ahead of the game, use these pointers to influence where you focus your efforts online in 2018. Taken from conversations with those working in schools who have faced inspections recently, these are the requirements you won't find on any checklist. What are Ofsted looking for in 2018/19? Read on to find out.

Much more than just policies and boxes checked

Firstly, let's get the 'checklist' conversation done and dusted.

There are lots of checklists around. Some are great, some are not at all good and are consistently out of date. As a first port of call, our School Website Requirements guide will tell you everything you need to know all year round. It's always up to date and it is a lot more than a checklist. Have a look and bookmark the page if you want to stay well informed.

If you really want to take full control of your compliance all year round then using our School Website Compliance Software alongside the guide is the way forward. It's an online tool that makes it an absolute breeze to keep your website up to date, whoever you use as your school website provider.

Now that's out of the way, it is now vital that you go beyond the minimum requirements.

It has become much more apparent over the last few months that inspectors actively use your website to find out more about your school before they visit. More than box-checking. More than meeting a list of requirements. Here's the detail of what exactly you need to do, and the start of the new year is a great time to get a handle on it.

A consistent format for policies and documents

Schools that have full control of their website never through content on without thought. The very best way to present your statutory content is through a consistent, clear format. If you don't have fancy tech in place to help you display your content consistently then do ensure you use the same format and order your content rationally. We'd suggest categorising your policies into clear groups and displaying them alphabetically on a dedicated page.

The very best option is to drop your groups of policies into your policies page and on individual pages related to the specific use case. For example, your SEN content could look like this (if you're really good!).

How to display statutory policies consistently

Further Reading:
Presenting Statutory Policies for Schools
How to create the best school website SEN page

Up to date policies

This is something that raises some significant questions for inspectors and should be easy to fix. It's not good enough to have an up to date policy to hand in the office if it's not online. You're missing an opportunity and raising needless questions.

Keep your policies bang up to date all year round. The Schudio School Website Software allows you to set expiry dates on all documents so that you're notified when you need to update statutory information. If you've never seen the feature in action, have a look at this short tutorial or, if you'd like to see it in action, book in a quick call.

Content must be very easy to find

When an inspector visits school, they'll be keen to see how quickly you're able to access the information they're looking for. If you don't have that information ready to hand, it raises questions around leadership and management.

Did you know that's true of your website as well? Inspectors look unfavourably on websites that aren't clearly laid out and where content isn't easy to locate. Phrases such as "hard to navigate", "not really selling your school" and "buried information" are becoming more and more common. There simply is no need to make it such hard work for website users.

Further Reading:
Your School Website Structure - The Definitive Guide (Part 1)
Your School Website Structure - The Definitive Guide (Part 2)

Curriculum information that is backed up with evidence

One source has told us that inspectors found that "outlining what [the curriculum] is but then backing it up with the class Blog really helped – pictures, video etc. Also Twitter helped, so basically; this is our curriculum e.g. ‘What we do’, then following it up with a weekly ‘This is what it actually looks like’ . This helped with the inspection phrase "a broad and balanced curriculum", which is hard to see in a few hours of a visit".

You must absolutely display all the relevant information about your curriculum on your website, but, that's not the whole story. You website gives you an unparalleled opportunity to tie content together. Products such as Jigsaw, ClassDojo and Tapestry are brilliant, but they're not the place that inspectors go to before they visit school. That privilege is reserved for your website.

Schudio website clients can 'tag' content so that class pages can contain related News, Events and Blog posts. Everything will then be located in one place and incredibly easy to find.

Academies - link back to Trust policies

There is a great push for academies to link back to the Trust policies and make this very clear. The list of information that you should be linking to includes the following;

  • annual report
  • annual audited accounts
  • memorandum of association
  • articles of association
  • names of charity trustees and members
  • funding agreement

Follow the same protocols and display options throughout the Trust as well. There's no use in having a wide range of different ways to display content on all your websites. If you're using a range of website providers then the most basic rule to follow is a consistent naming function for your policies and display them in the same file type and in the same order.

A Custom Built Solution for Multi Academy Trusts
If you're working a Trust and you manage policies across multiple sites, keeping this content fully compliant and consistent can be a nightmare. Schudio offers a unique feature, built for Trusts to deploy statutory content to your academy websites. Find out more about Shared Document Groups.

Named contacts, by relevant department

There is a statutory requirement to display contact information on your website. Most schools meet this requirement by adding a named contact to the contact page. Job done? Not quite.

The emphasis has expanded so that inspectors now expect to be able to see named contacts for key personnel. Your SENDco and safeguarding lead are key people. Add them to your website as key contacts. The very best way to do that is with photos; inspectors like to know who they're looking for. If you really want to go to town, use the People Groups feature in the Schudio software to create stunning staff pages and display 'groups' of people brilliantly all over your website.

Beautiful staff pages

Opportunity for parent feedback (and not just Parent View)

Parents should have the opportunity to feed into the conversation about your school inspection. The go to option is Parent View. The problem is that if you don't have enough feedback, it isn't available to view. Think about providing your own option to get feedback from parents. Use your contact form or a specific form that inspectors can review. Don't be afraid of it. A bit of independent feedback is to be embraced and is an opportunity to learn and grow.

A website that captures who you are as a school

Finally, we've heard feedback from schools that their websites "don't really capture who you are as a school". It's incredibly important to give the best possible impression when anyone visits your school website. So ask yourself, what are you seeking to portray? What is your school about? Does your website truly reflect who you are and are you using all the tools at your disposal to get the job done.

Think strategically and make content and structure changes that reflect who you are. When that is completed, add News and Blog content regularly to tell the stories of all the amazing things going on in school. That is the single most effective thing you can do to paint the best possible picture.

If you're looking to overhaul everything you're doing online to ensure you're more than compliant, the best place to start is our full, definitive guide to compliance. Get started below.

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