Could your secondary school benefit from a mobile app?

Published: January 13, 2022

We all know that smartphones have taken over our lives, but did you know that 87% of the UK population used a smartphone in 2020 and the smartphone to population penetration was 72%? 

With those numbers, it can only make sense for your school to take advantage of this to help increase parental engagement. But how exactly can this be done?

A mobile app for your secondary school could be the perfect solution, getting key messages out to parents, whilst also helping your school to run more efficiently and reduce costs. 

How do school apps enhance communication for secondary schools? 

With a school mobile app, you can significantly improve the quality of communication between your school and parents or guardians. If you do not have a robust communication strategy in place, chances are you will not be able to deliver superior-quality communication. 

Here are a few ways in which you can work on your communication process with a school app:

  • Simplify the onboarding process

     — For an app to be successful, you need to make sure as many parents and guardians as possible use it. With our school app, you can onboard parents easily. We offer full training to your staff so they can confidently help parents to get the most out of it.
  • Reduce admin time

    — Using a digital solution to communicate with parents and guardians means there is a huge drop in additional costs from traditional communication methods, like printed newsletters and updates. It also saves a lot of time for your staff.
  • Provide access to an integrated booking form for events and open days

    — you can save a huge amount of admin time alone with integrative bookings. Allow teachers to set their availability for parents evenings and open days, and parents can book a lot direct. 
  • Offer better targeted communication

    — You can send messages to those parents who have not responded to earlier messages, and thereby ramp up the engagement levels. Being able to know which parents have received or read your messages, further enables you to understand how active or engaged they are on the app. Accordingly, you can contact them when they come to the school to pick up their children or set an appointment. 

Let’s consider the next question. 

How does a school app help you save costs? 

Here is a quick look at some of the cost-saving benefits that are offered by a school app: 

  • Saves on printing costs

    — There is a lot of paper used in the UK schools on a daily basis. Having a school communication app can boost your green credentials and make your journey towards a paperless future easier than ever. 
  • Saves administration efforts

    — Relying on students to pass on paper notes to their parents and then have the parents communicate with the school authorities can be a really cumbersome process. With a school app, there will not be any wasted communication with the parents. 

If you too are considering a mobile application for your school, try School Jotter. Here are a few features offered by the app that are worth considering:

  • Editable app

    — Schools can personalise their dashboard, adding and removing links relevant to the time of year
  • Custom design

    — It pushes the school’s brand and ethos, no boring template look
  • Syncs with website

    — It seamlessly integrates with the school website and helps to prevent any duplication of work and reduces workload

That brings us to our next question. 

Why should you consider the School Jotter app?

Check out some of the key benefits here:

  • Mobile centre enables you to contact and be contacted by individuals or groups of parents at no cost
  • Get access to the latest news, updates, and information delivered to your mobile at no extra cost
  • Add links to school policies and other important information.
  • Save money with push notifications over a text service that needs to be topped up
  • Syncs with website to prevent any duplication of work and reduces workload

Now if that has convinced you enough, contact our friendly professionals today at School Jotter and enable the parents and students to make the most from their School Jotter mobile school app.  

Why you need a mobile-friendly school website

Published: June 21, 2021

Ensuring your school’s website is mobile-friendly is more important than ever for the new academic year.  But what does that actually mean, why does it matter and how can you get it for your school?

What is a mobile-friendly website?

Making your site-mobile friendly simply means ensuring that your existing website will shrink down when it’s viewed on a mobile-device, e.g. a smartphone or tablet. All important information, contact info, key pages, images and even videos or animations, should be easily readable in this smaller format, and your design should translate well to mobile too.

Why is a mobile-friendly website important for schools?

More searches on mobile:

With searches on mobile devices having overtaken desktop for many years now, you want to make sure that all-important information about your school, whether for existing parents, or potential new families, is all available with ease.

Visibility on search engines:

For the last few years Google’s search algorithms have given great prominence to sites which are mobile-friendly, so a mobile-friendly web design could mean you appear higher in search results. This could be particularly important at this time of year, as parents are potentially looking for schools to send their children to. 

How can I check if my school’s website is mobile-friendly?

Google’s own Mobile-Friendly Test is the quickest and easiest way to see if Google considers your web design to be suitable for mobile users. You simply enter your web address, and within a few moments Google will run a test on your site and present you with your results. Your website will be determined to be mobile-friendly (or not) and you will be given additional resources and information to learn more about the subject.

In addition to this it’s also worth taking a look at the website yourself on your own device, and consider, can you see and read all of your important information clearly.

What if my school failed the mobile-friendly test?

At this stage it’s important for you to speak to your website developers. If you haven’t had a new design for several years, then you should seriously consider investing in one to help make it easier for parents to see all the good things your school does.

Depending on the complexity of the design you want, a new website can take anywhere from just a few days, to several months to complete, but moving forwards, you should have a website that is much more accessible for more people.

If you’d like to find out more about a mobile-friendly website for your school

Our team of experts would be happy to help.  Contact us and a member of our team will call you back.

A Guide to Teaching Spelling in Primary Schools

Category: Products

Published: October 30, 2018

Spelling is a fundamental literacy skill that enables children to develop strong writing skills as they grow.
Poor spelling can interfere with our ability to communicate effectively, causing confusion and ultimately obstructing the point we may be trying to convey. It’s essential that primary schools help to cultivate the required spelling skills in young children, to help them become literate, articulate adults.
How? Below, we explore six effective ways to teach spelling in primary schools, combining traditional cutting-edge techniques for optimal results.

Focus on Sounds

Each letter has its own sound. We all know this. However, emphasising specific sounds within any word pupils may be struggling to spell helps them identify the letters used. This ultimately makes putting the building blocks of the word itself together much easier.
For example, if you’re trying to teach children to remember how to spell a word featuring an ‘ea’ — such as ‘dream’ — pronouncing the two letters separately would make it easier to remember the correct spelling.
In this case, picking the word apart as ‘dre – am’ and encouraging pupils to repeat this can encourage them to write ‘ea’ rather than ‘ee’.
This is a solid technique for words featuring a double ‘s’ too, as emphasising the sibilant sound demonstrates the importance of using more than just a single ‘s’. As children grow to consider the sounds that letters and words produce, they’ll become more comfortable with using the right letters.

Mark Spelling on Letter-by-Letter Basis

Teachers can mark words spelled incorrectly by the letter, rather than simply putting a cross beside it. For example, if a child wrote ‘dentizt’ instead of ‘dentist’, the teacher would tick all of the right letters and circle the wrong one.
This helps the pupil to see that they got most of the word right and makes the mistake clearer. They will see they have the ability to spell the majority of ‘dentist’ properly, and only need to make a tiny correction to get it right.
Combine this with the first tip, and teach the pupil to exaggerate the ‘s’ in ‘dentist’ aloud when spelling it. Help them see the difference between ‘s’ and ‘z’ by emphasising the ‘z’ sounds in ‘buzz’ and ‘fuzz’.

Turn Spelling Practice into a Game

Building a game around correct spelling helps pupils learn by having fun and makes a welcome change to sitting at a desk.
Consider the following activities:

  • Print a single word across multiple A4 sheets of paper (possibly of different colours), so each letter has its own page. Jumble these up and ask pupils to rearrange them in the right order to make the word. If the letters can build more than just one word, even better!
  • Give pupils a selection of words to spell correctly, and ask them to make a story out of them. They will be looking to spell the words properly and use them in context. Writing a story will stimulate their imagination and help them focus on the meaning of the words as well as their spelling.
  • Take a paragraph from a book pupils know well and rewrite it, misspelling several words. Ask children to work together in groups and circle any words they think may be incorrect. Offer a reward for the group that finds all of the right words in the fastest time.


Host Spelling Bees

Spelling bees are a dynamic, simple way to improve spelling. In your classroom, invite two pupils at a time to spell words of your choosing.
Children will have an incentive to think carefully about the construction of specific words.
They will have a positive goal to focus on, and preparing for the bee will give pupils more of a reason to study their spelling. They will want to get it right to be crowned the winner, while they’ll also learn about the value of fair competition.
By giving encouragement for correct spelling (or just a good attempt) in front of fellow pupils, the teacher can help build the pupil’s self-confidence and inspire them to try spelling more complex words.

Fill in the Blanks

An effective activity is to either write a story or take an existing children’s tale and remove certain words, before presenting the modified piece to the pupils.
Ask them to try to identify what word will work best in the blank space; you may choose to provide them with a list of possible words as an aid. Not only do they need to pick the right word, they have to spell it too.
This encourages them to think about context along with spelling.

Test Pupils’ Spelling Regularly

Spelling tests are a fantastic method of teaching spelling in primary schools. One or more tests each week help to give pupils a reason to pay attention to their spelling, and earning a good score offers a real sense of achievement.
Webanywhere’s Spellings Module is an innovative app that gives children an interactive way to practice spelling. This lets teachers build spelling lists quickly and easily, either pulling from pre-made lists or producing their own, all customised to each pupil’s capabilities.
The Spellings Module allows teachers to track pupils’ progress over the space of the school year and compare them with others. The tests can be performed from any device. The BrainTrain function highlights words misspelled most commonly to inform the composition of future tests.

By using app technology and devices that primary school children are familiar with, The Spelling Module helps to make spelling tests feel more relevant and accessible. Teachers may access past results and pupils’ progress in a convenient way, without having to check through dozens of papers manually. It’s a time-saving, inclusive app that benefits pupils and educators alike.
Following the tips explored above can help to make teaching spelling more interactive, effective and straightforward. It’s vital to help children develop the knowledge and confidence to spell well as they grow, providing them with the skills to embrace new, more complex words throughout their lives.

Webanywhere’s Spelling Module can be a powerful teaching aid that can be accessed at any time, any place. This expands practice beyond the classroom, encouraging good spelling in a fun, user-friendly way.

Top Tips for Buying School Tech

Published: September 5, 2016

You’re a school with an IT provision that’s the antithesis of state-of-the-art. Your budget is allocated and the money is burning a hole in your pocket. You’re itching to buy all those shiny, new computers, interactive whiteboards and software, and who can blame you? But before you start shopping, have you asked yourself (and your IT specialist) these questions about buying school tech?

  • Interactive whiteboard – with the most popular choices having been Smartboard and Promethean Activboard, most teachers now prefer to work with a conventional screen and projector using their own laptop or alternatively, they use the screen mirroring feature with iPads or smart TVs. It definitely seems the trend is moving away from expensive Smartboards, with their clunky software and screens that won’t stay oriented.

  • PC, laptop or tablets? – although it could be argued that laptops encourage poor posture with the monitor so low, there’s no doubt that these portable devices facilitate sharing 30+ computers around the school, even moving outside when required. It also frees up the need for having a dedicated IT suite. While laptops are more powerful and have a much larger capacity, many children will be familiar with smartphones and/or tablets, so you may wish to consider a set of iPads as well. The wonderful array of educational and creative apps can make learning more engaging. Tablets can be used for independent learning, guiding reading and whole-class teaching.
  • BYOD – One controversial movement that’s gaining popularity is allowing pupils to bring in their own devices. Not only does this free up more of your IT budget but pupils will feel more familiar with their own tablets or laptops. Of course there is the problem of batteries running flat and online security.
  • Broadband – often neglected when considering buying school tech. Always go for a larger bandwidth than you anticipate needing. Determine if you’ll need as much upstream as downstream bandwidth and how much data you’ll use each month. The line speed and capacity must take account of educational and managerial uses, as well as communications, networks, operational systems and security (closed circuit TVs). With the move towards an ever-increasing percentage of content being delivered through a VLE, requiring numerous pupils to be online simultaneously, it’s more sensible to overestimate the school’s broadband needs.


  • Virtual learning environment – an essential item is your VLE, which needs to be adaptable and easy to use. Apart from buying the platform, many suppliers charge annual, per-user licence fees, which can eat up your budget. An alternative would be to opt for an open source platform..
  • Website – every school should have a modern and multifunctional website to act as a portal for the school brand. An innovative solution would be to find a platform that integrates website with VLE. Buying a complete package can save money and make it simpler to use, with a single interface style.
  • Content – teacher’s time is at a premium and designing effective content for lessons can be demoralising, unless you’re tech-savvy. There are content design companies specialising in the school curriculum, such as Webanywhere. They also have their Content Club, where for an affordable, annual fee, schools can have specific topic websites created. Once in the club, schools can then share their bespoke sites between members. So a cluster group could collaborate to have multimedia, interactive content to cover the entire curriculum.

Power in Numbers
And remember, before you accept any quotes and go off with your shopping cart, find out if anyone in your cluster group is looking for new software or hardware. If you collaborate with others, your negotiating power will increase when buying school tech.

Now fully available for your school – Office 365 integration

Published: February 18, 2016

We’re pleased to announce that Office 365 integration is now fully up and running for anyone using our School Jotter platform. You can now take advantage of the full range of Office 365 features within the School Jotter ecosystem, complete with single-sign-on and file sharing.
Here’s the best new features of integration:

Single sign-on

And it really is single sign-on – with the Office 365 login method, if you’re logged into Office 365 you won’t need to enter anything to get into School Jotter, your computer will handle it all.

Easily add files to your website

Access your OneDrive files from within Jotter, and insert them as items on your School Jotter website. This means you don’t have to worry about taking an image from OneDrive, downloading it then reuploading it to Jotter – it’s right there already!

Outlook Calendar Synchronisation

It’s likely that your school has everything organised in an Outlook calendar already – wouldn’t it be great if this could automatically pull through to your website? The Calendar app can now read from and update from your Office 365 calendars, saving you one more update task.

All your OneDrive files in School Jotter

With the Office 365 desktop app, you and your students can even have access to your desktop files in School Jotter.

Share and collaborate

As well as accessing your own files, you can even share them with others, making it a great way to enable collaboration amongst students.
Interested in the benefits of integration? Contact us for a free demo.

Open Source LMS for Education – the perfect online learning platform for your school

Published: February 3, 2016

“Teaching in the Internet age means we must teach tomorrow’s skills today.” – Jennifer Fleming.

Do you agree with this quote? I believe it is one of the most accurate quotes related to learning in the Internet age. It acknowledges the importance of providing our students with opportunities to gain and develop skills that will be most useful for them in the future. As discussed previously, technology is just a tool that cannot replace teachers. However, I am sure that every teacher should have some knowledge about how to integrate technology into teaching to help students develop a variety of skills. For instance, using different technology resources (e.g., quizzes, writing tools, drawing tools, forums, blogs) can be very useful for improving communication, problem-solving, critical thinking, and teamwork skills. What is more, appropriate use of technology can help to improve literacy and to improve more technical IT-related skills.

The best solution for schools is to find a tool that could make learning more engaging for students and that would be easy to use at the same time because we cannot expect all teachers or even all students to be very confident with their IT skills. If you are looking for a tool that could improve elearning within your school I would suggest trying an open-source LMS.

A virtual learning environment / VLE (also known as a learning management system or LMS), is developed by educators, for educators.

It provides a private and secure learning space for designing online courses with flexible content and collaborative activities for students. What makes open source LMS unique is the fact that it is a free software based on its community, not on investors seeking returns or by selling customer data.

Why choose Webanywhere for e-Learning platform?

We are here to support your LMS in order to implement a truly successful learning environment in your school. Webanywhere is focused on improving e-learning within education. Using open-source LMS we are able to provide engaging e-learning platforms which improve the productivity of both teachers and students. We offer a wide variety of services ranging from theme design to implementation, training, and support for schools. We can help you integrate your VLE with SIMS for automated user management, real-time reporting on attendance and behaviour and for off-site access to SIMS data. What is more, we can help make homework management easier for teachers, students, and parents with our homework-management plugin. Read more about school jotter success stories here.

Main benefits of LMS for education.

Easy access. It is available anywhere with an Internet connection, meaning students, staff, and parents have 24-hour access to a huge variety of resources, activities and school information. This is great for students who cannot attend school for whatever reason because the platform allows them to access all the information taught in the lessons they have missed. It can assist in accessing homework materials, assignments, or additional learning resources that teachers upload.

Encourages collaboration. The opportunity to collaborate with other students and to work in teams makes learning more effective. An open-source LMS allows Students to ask questions and to help each other regarding any topic on discussion forums or via instant messages. What is more, students who are hesitant to put forward their views or opinions in the classroom can use LMS to express themselves and to get involved in different activities or projects.

Helps to make learning more fun and engaging. LMS can be used to upload assignment-related quizzes or games that can help students prepare for their assignments while being fun and helping to reduce stress related to assignments. Engaging and fun activities can be used to support teaching in the classroom and to support students at home.

Enables students to learn more independently. While an LMS encourages collaboration between students, it also enables them to have more control over their learning. For instance, teachers can upload supplementary activities, documents, links to websites or other relevant materials that are relevant to the lesson being taught. This helps students enhance their learning at their own time without having to do a research for quality materials themselves.

Flexible. An LMS is highly configurable and it can be customised with different features to meet the individual needs of your school.

Access to quality resources. It can help students access only quality resources that are uploaded by teachers without having to search for information themselves. This helps them stay focused on things that are relevant and useful for their learning. “Learners in the internet age don’t need more information. They need to know how to efficiently use the massive amount of information available at their fingertips – to determine what’s credible, what’s relevant, and when its useful to reference.” – Anna Sabramowicz

Most recent features:

-Drag-and-drop quiz question types.

-Streamlined course section editing.

-Better management of plugins.

-Display the date a file was uploaded.

-Do more on your mobile. 

Finally, I would like to encourage teachers to embrace technology to make learning more engaging for students because engaged students are more likely to be interested and to stay motivated to learn and perform well!

Introduction To: Spellings | Webanywhere Blog

Published: November 27, 2015

We recently launched our new Spellings app, and have been totally overwhelmed by the responses so far – it seems this is a product that a lot of schools are interested in! It’s not hard to see why either – we’ve created an easy way for you to automatically set, mark and track spelling tests online, and our advanced features really do make it stand out from the crowd.

To start with, you don’t even need to actually set spelling tests yourself – just import some from our bank of pre-made and community-submitted accounts. Only customers can contribute to the community, so you won’t need to worry about any bad words sneaking in, and we’ll be moderating tests. Additionally, our pre-made tests have been created with the curriculum in mind, so you’ll have a complete set of lists ready to go from the start!

Continue reading

Six months on from Mobilegeddon – what’s changed?

Published: November 3, 2015

You might remember, six months ago, how all the blogs about school websites (us included) – and indeed all websites – were talking about Google’s impending “Mobilegeddon” – the change in their ranking algorithm that would prioritise mobile-friendly websites and penalise those that aren’t mobile compatible. No doubt you received countless emails from providers (ourselves included, again), offering to fix the problem, but six months on we have to ask – was it a genuine threat to your website?
The short answer is “no, but….”, and the long answer is “yes, and…”. The reasons for this are due to a number of trends in the way people are accessing content, and the long and short of it is that, from here on out, things are only going to get worse for non-mobile-friendly websites.

Changes in browsing habits

The traditional model of browsing on your desktop, with Google results in front of you and websites tucked comfortably behind the tabs or windows of your screen, is in decline. Even since April, Android traffic alone has gone up by as much as 6% by some metrics – invariably at the expense of desktop searches. This means that parents are more likely to be searching for things like schools from a mobile device.
In this environment, your content needs to work on these devices, and not just function but look great while doing it. This is why we really do recommend a responsive website, and it’s worth pointing out that School Jotter 2 customers needn’t worry about these changes – all their websites are responsive straight out of the box, with easy access from any device you choose. Content will change and adapt to suit the screen size, so it doesn’t matter if you’re using a 27” iMac or a 3.5” Android phone – you’ll get the same content, tailored to your device.
The reality of the situation is that you need to be going where the people are, and increasingly they’re on their tablets and phones.

Google’s changes are gradual

I want to be clear here – Mobilegeddon was a real thing, with real effects, it just wasn’t as bad as everyone said, but the important thing here is “yet”. April was the beginning of a longer process which will slowly see mobile-friendly designs becoming the new normal, transitioning from a luxury to a general fact of life. By upgrading your site to a responsive theme, you’ll be getting around this; by staying non-responsive things are only going to get worse for your rankings.

The overall picture

Your website needs to work on the phones of parents, teachers and students, and if it doesn’t you’re missing out. Not just in terms of your slowly-decreasing search engine traffic, but in terms of providing a decent browsing experience to the people who need it most.
Interested in getting a responsive, mobile-friendly website? School Jotter provides responsive themes out of the box, contact us for a free trial.

INFOGRAPHIC: What to expect when you’re expecting a School Jotter website

Published: September 9, 2015

One of the most common questions our consultants get asked is “what’s your delivery process like and how long is it going to take?” This is something you should be asking all school website providers really, as it’ll inform how they’re going to be delivering your product. We’ve produced an infographic here to help explain some of what you might expect to experience over the School Jotter delivery cycle.

Click here for a free, no-obligation, no-payment-information-needed trial of School Jotter