School websites are an important source of information for prospective parents and can be among their first impressions.
It is essential to make the information they seek as easy to find as possible and to ensure everything is kept up to date. Schools should also ensure 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 a key resource for prospective parents researching potential schools for their children and may even be among their first impressions of the school, making it essential to understand and deliver what these families are looking for in a clear and simple way. 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 clear navigation, so it is important that this 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 be of benefit to add a link to this information on your website home page as this makes it clear where this important information is to be found.
Communicate your school values and personality clearly
Every school has their own story and a unique set of values that define who they are; these values drive the decisions a school makes, shapes their approach to teaching and learning and determines how they intend to grow. Identifying and communicating these values is vital as potential parents will always be interested in what makes a school standout as being different to other schools in the area.
We recommend that schools have a dedicated area on their website that defines these values, like the basic statutory information this should be easy and simple to find from the homepage and is also often found in a ‘key information’ type menu. These values go beyond being basic information on a page however and need to be reflected throughout the sites design, text and imagery wherever possible.
Keep your website up to date
While this may seem obvious, it is something that 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 get an idea of 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 they have 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 key information are regularly uploaded will keep a website up to date and be a benefit to both new and prospective parents.
Talk about your classes
Another area prospective 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 important to communicate, and 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 video of lessons and trips can be a highly effective way of bringing these pages to life too.
Explain how to apply
Prospective parents need to know how to apply for their child to attend school along with the application process and policies that 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 may 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 as well as dates for open days.
It is important to make the process of finding information easy and the running theme of these five steps is clear, open and simple communication enabling prospective families to find what need easily 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.