All Headteachers know how important it is to present their school in a positive light. Raising the profile of the school and having a strong strategy for increasing entrants is all part of a Headteacher’s remit and having a good website to demonstrate what their school is all about plays a big a part in this.
Just like any other business, schools need to navigate their way through today’s fast changing digital landscape and get themselves seen. Understanding how the school should be using their website, social media and internet marketing to grow their online presence and attract more entrants is absolutely critical in today’s competitive marketplace.
Showcasing the school
A school website is effectively an online shop front. It showcases the school to the outside world and highlights the culture and image the school wants to convey to their target audience. The website is where parents, governors and the local community will come to see what the school has to offer and what they see will create an impact. It’s crucial that the impact is a good one and that the website represents the school appropriately.
There are many great schools out there with websites that are currently letting them down. A school website needs to be welcoming, engaging, informative, easy to navigate, easy to read on mobiles and tablets and project the right message about the school. The impression a website creates is vital and a very dated or unresponsive website may potentially give a false image of an otherwise thriving and vibrant school.
What OFTED expects
There is also the question of what OFSTED expect to see on a school website. In 2012 OFSTED adapted the School Information Regulations to include specific requirements. Schools now need to provide information in a clear and accessible way and the quality of the school website in achieving this will be looked at during OFSTED inspections.
Typical information that OFSTED will be looking for on a school website is:
- Information about the school’s pupil premium allocation and details of how they plan to spend it in the current year.
- Information about how the money was spent in the previous year and its impact on educational attainment.
- Details about the curriculum of the school by academic year and by subject.
- Information about the school’s admission arrangements including published admission number.
- Information about the school’s selection and over-subscription criteria as well as the process for applications through the local authority.
- Previous OFSTED reports should also be available.
- Details of the school policies on behaviour as well as SEN and disability provision.
- Information about the ethos and values of the school.
And this is just scratching the surface of what OFSTED will be looking out for. To make a school website a valuable place of reference it should include any information that parents, governors and the wider community will find useful and that will establish the school as an effective choice. This could include information about the school timetable, prospectus, school evaluation, development planning, staff profiles, news and events and school achievements.
Using social media
Marketing a school online doesn’t start and end with the website. It will also include school branding, the quality of the prospectus and its social media presence.
With increasing volumes of people using mobile and tablets to conduct searches it is necessary for schools to move with the times and have a strategy for attracting their audience online.
Social media can serve schools well if done correctly. As long as there are appropriate policies in place and the senior management of the school and governors are on board then a school can significantly enhance their brand profile by having a strong social media presence.
There are many schools in the UK that have embraced social media and they use it to:
- Promote the school ethos, goals and aspirations
- Inform parents of events and extra-curricular activities
- Answer questions about the school
- Strengthen relationships with the local community
- Share ideas and discuss issues
- Celebrate school achievements
- Communicate effectively with students
Developing a strategy
Forward-looking schools can see the many benefits of using social media. By providing safe and secure frameworks for its use, and providing training and guidelines for teachers and other staff to follow, social media can be used effectively to engage parents, students and other stakeholders.
Social media is the main way that younger people communicate so by having a strategy to communicate with them in this way, a school is more likely to engage their interest, gain their buy-in and nurture commitment.
By integrating social media into the school website, schools can also drive traffic to the website and push out content through social media platforms. This will increase website visitors and enhance the school’s overall online presence.
So to summarise, in order to remain competitive and be relevant to a growing online audience, schools need to be savvier about the design of their website, their content and how they push that content out. That’s why having a digital marketing strategy is an important part of any school’s growth plan.
To talk to us about your digital marketing please call on 0121 321 6057