School websites are an essential source of information for prospective parents and can be among their first impressions.
It is essential to make the information they seek as easy as possible and ensure everything is kept up to date. Schools should also provide their values and principles are consistently reflected throughout the website.
With instantly updatable information on school news, events, policies and more, all accessible from anywhere at any time, the school website has become a vital platform for engaging and informing the parents of children attending a school.
It is also an essential resource for prospective parents researching potential schools for their children. It may even be among their first impressions of the school, making it necessary to understand and deliver what these families are looking for clearly and straightforwardly. Here are five steps that can be taken to increase attracting prospective parents.
Make basic information easy to find
Location, admissions policy, Ofsted report, and SEND information are just a few items that any prospective parent would want to know about a school. We all know it is easy to become lost and frustrated looking for information on a website that does not have straightforward navigation, so this must be addressed.
One option is to make these items easy to find by placing them within a “key or statutory information” page. It would also benefit from adding a link to this information on your website home page as this makes it clear where this critical information is to be found.
Communicate your school values and personality clearly
Every school has its own story and a unique set of values that define who they are; these values drive the decisions a school makes, shape their approach to teaching and learning, and determine how they intend to grow. Identifying and communicating these values is vital as potential parents will always be interested in what makes a school stand out as different from other schools in the area.
We recommend that schools have a dedicated area on their website that defines these values as the basic statutory information. This should be easy and simple from the homepage and often found in a ‘key information’ type menu. However, these values go beyond being basic information on a page and need to be reflected throughout the site’s design, text, and imagery wherever possible.
Keep your website up to date
While this may seem obvious, it can be easy to overlook with the hectic pace of everyday school life. Although upcoming events and newsletters typically focus on existing parents, they may also be of interest to prospective parents who want to know what is happening at the school and what kind of things are coming up. If a potential parent goes to look at these sections of a website and has not been updated for months, it paints a picture of poor communication that is likely not true or a fair reflection of the school.
Putting a process in place that ensures newsletters, calendars, events and other essential information are regularly uploaded will keep a website up to date and benefit both new and prospective parents.
Talk about your classes
Another prospective area parents will look at to learn more about a school is class or year group pages. Typically, these pages are put in place to share the curriculum of that class, class news, photos and homework resources; however, they are also a great place to show what life is like at the school for the children. As previously mentioned, visions and values are essential to communicate. These pages are a perfect place to show them in action and where potential parents can see just how much the children enjoy and engage with their classes. Using images or even videos of lessons and trips can be a highly effective way of bringing these pages to life.
Explain how to apply
Prospective parents need to know how to apply for their child to attend school and the application process and policies that support this.
Getting this right is essential. Without a clear understanding of what they should do next, potential parents may not be motivated to act and become lost. We recommend that the application processes and policies are easy to find and simple to understand. It is also worth making it clear who to contact should anyone have a question about admissions and dates for open days.
It is essential to make the process of finding information accessible. The running theme of these five steps is transparent, open and straightforward communication enabling prospective families to see what needs efficiently and without fuss. If you need more reasons why a school website is vital, read our blog post on how to get the most out of your school website.
Tags: Marketing Communications