In September 2012 Ofsted first introduced changes that required all schools in England to have a website. Although many schools first established themselves online to meet this statutory requirement, the benefits of having a good website have since evolved beyond this. By seeing an online presence as an opportunity worth investing in, rather than just an obligation, schools can unlock a whole host of benefits. Here we will look take a detailed look at two of these benefits.
Improving engagement with existing parents
The online world has completely changed how people seek answers to the questions they have, with an unprecedented amount of information available online people know they can find the answer to almost any question they have. Not only this, but growth in the use of mobile phones to access the internet also means these answers are available almost anywhere.
Parents now expect to have quick and easy access to any information they need regarding a school via the school’s website. Delivering upon this expectation through a well written and consistently updated website is a great opportunity to improve engagement.
If parents know they can rely on the school website for answers, they will keep coming back in order to seek out more. On the other hand, if finding information on the school website proves to be a frustrating and difficult experience, parents are less likely to stay engaged and may look for answers elsewhere.
Achieving a better engagement among parents can help to cut the amount of time spent on admin as well as the overall cost of communication. With a highly engaged audience regularly checking a school’s website, simple updates can be uploaded knowing parents will be able to find them easily, instead of being sent out through more costly communication methods such as text messaging or emails.
Of course, some communications are still too important to only share on the website and in the cases where a direct approach is necessary, a good website can still help. Every website has a content management system, the interface through which a school can make changes to their website, and many of these systems, such as ours, include the ability to manage the website, text messaging and email communications all in one place and in a streamlined way.
Attracting new parents
Just like the parents of children already attending a school, those who are interested in sending their children to that same school are also likely to visit the website as part of their research. These people may already know of the school and its reputation from local knowledge and word of mouth, but when it comes to discovering more specific information, the website is often the first place they will look. In many cases, this visit may be their first impression of the school.
Ultimately, this makes the website an important and highly effective shop window for attracting prospective parents and can be a key tool in achieving an increase in pupil numbers. Given that investing in a website is already a requirement, this can also be a very cost-effective way to reach out to parents and to show what makes a school stand out as being different and unique. There are many ways a school can stand out from others through its website, these include, but are not limited to:
- The initial impression gained from the look and feel of the design
- The ease of navigating the site and finding information
- The quality of the written content available
- The overall messaging and personality portrayed
Every school in England needs to have a website that shows statutory information as part of the requirements set by the DfE and satisfying these is an important task that every school should seriously. With the investment already being made into maintaining a website, there are great benefits available beyond this obligation for any school looking to make the most of their online presence. The benefits can help schools with a range of objectives, from building engagement with existing parents to saving money on communications, improving reputation or attracting new families.