Does your website meet Ofsted’s statutory requirements and meet best practice guidelines?
Your school website is your main channel of communication with current and prospective parents but it is also one of the first things that Ofsted look at prior to inspecting your school.
As an absolute minimum, you need to ensure that your website meets the School Information Regulations but you should be going further than that if you want to make a positive impact on Her Majesty’s Inspectors. Your website content must be accurate, timely, relevant, newsworthy, clear and easily navigable. It stands to reason that it should also be well written but too often schools forget to write for the benefit of their readers and provide information that lacks clarity or context.
Ofsted look for more than compliance with the statutory requirements. The Ofsted School Inspection Handbook states that inspectors, in preparing to visit a school, “must use all available evidence to develop an initial picture of the school’s academic performance.” This includes
information on the school’s website, including its statement on the use of the pupil premium, the statutory sharing with parents of curriculum information (so the lead inspector can start to assess the breadth and balance of the school’s curriculum and whether it is likely to promote preparation for, and an appreciation of life in modern Britain), the special educational needs (SEN) information report, and other information for parents
As part of their preparation, inspectors are also advised to conduct an internet search to see if there is other information in the public domain that may be relevant. That is why it is essential that you develop consistent, high quality content for your website that you can share across other online platforms.
When Ofsted inspectors search for your school, they will be presented with more of the positive stories you want to promote and which create a more rounded and balanced picture of your school.
The best practice is to go beyond your statutory requirements by demonstrating the breadth and depth of life at your school. You should be publishing news stories that highlight the activities pupils take part in, presenting them in a way that makes them more compelling for your audience.
There are three key things you can do to achieve this:
1. Provide information that is clear and relevant
This covers constant information such as contact details or timetables and time sensitive information such as term dates or school activities. To make the right impression on Ofsted, it should also include details of school evaluation and development planning.
Academic, cultural and sporting achievements; extra-curricular activities; fundraising efforts; notable staffing changes; distinguished visitors; and other relevant information should all be used to form your daily news content.
Features on aspects of school life (e.g. your school values), opinion pieces by key staff and historical reflections on the school can offer greater insight into what it means to be part of your school community.
To stay on top of all of this, you need to develop a publishing schedule on a termly basis. You can identify many of the key happenings in your school ahead of time and prepare for them so that you report on them in a timely manner.
Too much to do. Too little time to do it?
It is in the continuous delivery of content that many schools begin struggle – as staff have to contend with other demands upon them, content deadlines are missed or articles get written hurriedly without any real thought for the reader. That is where we can help you by providing the skills and expertise to ensure that your content is on-message and on-time.
Your communication commitments don’t stop with an Ofsted inspection. When your Ofsted report arrives, your school has to share it with parents and carers within five days. It is considered best practice at this stage to also write a letter to parents explaining the findings of the report.
No matter what grade you have been awarded, you should also prepare a press statement for your local media.
We work with schools to help create this content in what can often be a much pressured environment. If your school hasn’t received the grade you were hoping for, you don’t have long to reflect upon the report and get a reassuring message out to parents and the local media. Our clients rely on us to keep a cool head in difficult circumstances and help them deliver a considered response to the key issues raise by Ofsted.
“After many years’ experience of writing letters to parents, I could not have matched the one you put together. You are a real wordsmith!” Academy Head Teacher
We’re proud of what we achieve with schools in this area and of the praise we have received from our clients, such as how we “turned what could have been a disaster into a triumph” and how we “provided great support in very challenging circumstances”.