How to create an engaging school website

websiteThe website for your primary school is both a marketing and a parent communication tool, so it needs to engage with your current parent community as well as potential new parents. 

As far as new parents are concerned, it’s often the first place they will go when they’re exploring options for their child’s schooling. Therefore, this is the first opportunity you will have to build a relationship and establish trust with that prospective parent.

If you’re planning to relaunch your school’s website, or simply want to check your current one is up to scratch, here are four things you should consider.

1. Ensure your website is OFSTED compliant

Prospective and current parents aside, another audience checking out your website is Ofsted. Prior to a school inspection, Ofsted will gather information from this source to build a picture of your school and how you communicate. They will also check all the correct information is displayed on your website. 

Ofsted’s school website requirements for maintained schools, and website requirements for academies, free schools and colleges must be met. It’s a good idea to go on to the website to check periodically as these policies and requirements can change. The latest update was in February 2021, when Ofsted added a section covering remote education.

2. What’s your school famous for?

These days, there is a parent expectation that certain criteria will be met. For example, they will assume that all Ofsted criteria will be met. Whilst it’s compulsory to have this content on your website, it’s probably not going to be the deciding factor that favours your school over another.

What makes your establishment different? What do your parents and students LOVE about your school?

If you’ve got a great breakfast club, shout about it. If your after-school clubs are varied, popular and enjoyable, ensure you make this prevalent on your website. Perhaps you’ve got exemplary communication methods with particular groups of parents (EAL parents, for example). Online bookings for parents evenings? Let them know. Make sure all this ‘over and above’ information is obvious. 

3. Keep it up to date

In the digital world we now find ourselves in, it’s much easier to keep information up to date. The drawback is, if visitors find old, out of date information on a website it can make for an incredibly frustrating experience, particularly if this user is a current parent.

The solution? Choose a website provider that allows you to update information quickly and easily, in one place, without the need to duplicate in several locations or across platforms. Or to put it another way, choose a website where the CMS allows you to add content without needing a PHD in Computer Science.

A great example is a content management system that is editable from the front end, so you have a really good idea how your page is going to look BEFORE you press the publish button.

Another great feature is a dynamic calendar which is visible on the website, on a school parent app and on the digital newsletter. The school admin team will only have to create one event, which is then populated in multiple places. For further functionality, adding filter options (by year group, for example) means that parents can access the relevant information even quicker.

Finally, make it someone’s job to check your school website every couple of weeks, with the specific intention of identifying out of date information.

4. Make sure it’s mobile responsive

This is a must for current and prospective parents alike. Not only do we expect information instantly these days, we expect it in an easy-to-digest format. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to view a web page that’s clearly not been made to be mobile responsive. 

If you’re adding new information to your website, always check how it looks on a mobile. It’s particularly important for your current parent and student community. Ensure that frequently accessed information (like your uniform page, for example) is easy to navigate to, and not hidden away in a difficult to find, dusty corner of your website.

And that person we mentioned earlier, the one who looks for out of date information on your website? Get them to check how it’s all looking on a mobile too.

If you’d like some help and advice on how your school website could be improved, get in touch for a chat!


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