The 8 Best School Mobile Apps of 2019

Published: January 7, 2019

The humble mobile app has transformed numerous aspects of daily life.
Our social media apps give us the freedom to chat with people all over the world in seconds. Our banking apps let us manage our finances at any time, any place. And gaming apps keep us entertained on buses, trains and in waiting rooms.
But school mobile apps have even more to offer: they provide schools with streamlined ways to stay on schedule, communicate with parents and educate pupils via interactive tools. Any designed to help pupils learn may be downloaded on a parent or teacher’s smartphone as an educational aid.
Many school mobile apps are available today, so how do you know which are the best?
We’ve picked the top 8 below.

#1. School Jotter – School Web Design and Mobile App

School Jotter’s CMS is a complete solution for schools, empowering you with the means to update your website, add content, advertise vacancies, manage CVs, communicate with staff through text messages and more.
The School Jotter mobile app is an excellent complement to the CMS, providing parents with various features and information. They can:

  • keep up to date with the latest school events
  • view calendars
  • read newsletters
  • check out galleries
  • view maps
  • see what homework has been set
  • complete forms on the school website
  • take part in surveys
  • book appointments for parents’ evenings
  • send free instant messages

This helps parents stay informed of their children’s school’s latest events, keep in touch with teachers and much more.

#2. Duolingo

Educating primary-school children on a second language can be a real challenge, but Duolingo helps to make it simpler.
It has been called the ‘best language-learning app’ by The Wall Street Journal and is (perhaps best of all) free! Duolingo is designed to help users learn multiple languages, including:

  • English
  • Spanish
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Dutch
  • Russian

Duolingo makes learning new languages fun and interactive, utilising quizzes and bite-size lessons. This school mobile app is available on Google Play and iTunes.

#3. My Study Life

Staying on top of homework, exams and special occasions at school is difficult for young children, but My Study Life aims to change that.
This isn’t just a calendar app — you can use it to:

  • see when work is due
  • view when exams will take place
  • set reminders for classes and unfinished work
  • create timetables to reduce the risk of missed deadlines

My Study Life is a helpful app for schools, helping staff and pupils alike stay focused on tasks without confusing dates or classes. It’s available on Google Play and iTunes.

#4. Khan Academy

This free app is well worth looking into, providing access to a huge catalogue of videos and other learning resources across many subject areas.
You can use Khan Academy to:

  • watch over 10,000 videos and explanations on maths, economics, history, science and more
  • make education more interactive with over 40,000 questions
  • try exercises and read articles on countless topics

Khan Academy gives teachers and children a vast catalogue of information, serving as an educational aid when studying a huge range of subjects. Achievements can be unlocked for a touch of gamification too, helping to engage pupils.
It’s available for download from iTunes only.

#5. Quizlet

Quizlet is a learning app based around flashcards, with multiple functions. This can be used by pupils as an aid to learning and practicing for tests through all years of primary school, as well as for teachers brushing up on subjects.
Quizlet offers the following features:

  • prepare for tests and exams with the Learn section
  • check your memory using Write
  • share flashcards with other users
  • implement custom audio and images to reinforce learning

Quizlet is free for the first seven days of usage, and multiple paid versions are available with additional functions. You can download it from iTunes and Google Play.

#6. WolframAlpha

WolframAlpha refers to itself as a real-life counterpart to the powerful computers seen on Star Trek, offering information on a massive variety of subjects using cutting-edge algorithms to create answers / reports.
Apple’s Siri is used in some aspects of WolframAlpha. This app can help with:

  • elementary maths
  • algebra
  • astronomy
  • geology
  • animals
  • plants
  • dinosaurs
  • climate
  • calendars
  • weather
  • geography
  • oceans
  • historical figures
  • linguistics

And much more!
WolframAlpha is an impressive school mobile app that to benefit teachers in the classroom and pupils at home. It’s not free, but its low cost and real potential makes it a worthy investment.
You can find it on Google Play and iTunes.

#7. Math Motion: Cupcake!

Many children struggle to learn maths, even at the most basic levels. Not only is the work itself difficult, but just the prospect of studying maths can be incredibly intimidating.
Math Motion: Cupcake! is a colourful, fun mobile app designed to help pupils develop their maths skills by running a cupcake business. It educates through such tasks as:

  • fulfilling orders
  • working out the cost of every cupcake
  • paying loans back

Math Motion: Cupcake! shows how important maths is in everyday life in a practical, more engaging way. This app is available on iTunes only, for a modest price.

#8. Star Walk

Space is a fascinating subject to study at any age, but particularly in primary school. Today’s children have access to countless exciting resources on space, stars and astronomy, and Star Walk is a great way to help them learn.
Using Star Walk, you can explore the sky in real time, identifying planets and constellations using just a smartphone. It allows you to:

  • locate and discover facts about celestial bodies
  • study an astronomical calendar to find when eclipses, meteor showers, full moons and more will occur
  • use the Time Machine feature to look at sky maps of the past and future
  • explore the night sky with Night mode, making the app more comfortable to use

Many more features and functions are included, making Star Walk an indispensable aid to educating children on astronomy. It requires no internet connection.
You can download Star Walk from iTunes and Google Play for a small cost.

Each of these school mobile apps can help teachers, pupils and parents in a specific way, whether that’s building a reliable schedule, exploring historical events or even learning another language.
They’re simple to use and compatible with an extensive range of devices. Prices are generally kept low too, to suit schools on diverse budgets.
Have you used any of these apps, or do you have others to recommend? Let us know below!

A Guide to Responsive School Website Design

Published: October 29, 2018

One of the most difficult decisions parents make is choosing which school their children will attend.
We all want the best for our little ones. We all want to know they’re learning in a safe, productive environment that will help cultivate their development and, ultimately, give them the right skills to build a successful future.
Researching any school your child may be able to attend is a crucial step, and the first port of call for the majority of parents is the school’s website — which is why it’s so important to get it right.
A website is a school’s chance to essentially shake the parent’s hand and prove why it’s the perfect option. Building a responsive school website is essential to deliver the best browsing experience and demonstrate everything that makes your school special.
But what does that mean and how can it be achieved?
In this guide, we’ll explore the power of responsive school website design, beginning with the basics.

What is Responsive Design?

Responsive Web Design (RWD) is an approach to crafting websites that provide a high-quality experience across multiple devices. We live in a world of 24/7 connectivity now: we’re not just browsing the internet at our desks anymore — our smartphones and tablets allow us to go online at any time, any place.
As the number of searches performed on handsets has overtaken those through desktops, websites have to perform to a high standard on any screen a visitor may use. Responsive Web Design focuses on running a single site incorporating elements which respond in a different way to suit the device in question.
An old-fashioned website might be made primarily to fit large monitors but is totally unaccommodating for mobile users. For example, if a page displays a table containing multiple blocks of data, this would have to be adapted to suit a smaller screen to prevent a cumbersome layout. Anyone trying to scroll across the page to read the table’s contents could become frustrated and look for the same information elsewhere.
Responsive Web Design ensures websites present visitors with the most user-friendly experience every time. Responsive design is vital to give parents the most accessible gateway to your school, offering an effective way to discover everything they need to know without a single moment of irritation.
The more you embrace this approach, the less reason you give parents to leave the site.

Key Features of a Responsive School Website

Responsive school websites tend to share certain elements. These combine to create a browsing experience that suits parents and prospective students alike, catering to the mother who’s researching your school at her office computer just as well as the child doing the same on her tablet.
So, what are these features and why do they matter?

Lots of whitespace

Whitespace is not just the empty parts of a website — it’s actually a major aspect of great design. Whitespace helps to make your text and images appear less cluttered, allows visitors to understand what they’re reading better and makes scanning for relevant information much easier.
Responsive school website design ensures your whitespace will remain proportionate and content will appear formatted just as well on tiny screens as bigger ones. This makes browsing far more comfortable.

Optimized visual content

Images must be optimized to display properly on all devices and load as quickly as possible. Loading times can make or break your browsing experience: if parents or children are searching for information but can’t access text because your images are slowing the site right down, they’re unlikely to keep waiting. If they do, they’ll become frustrated and be reluctant to return in future.
Image sizes must be reduced to facilitate fast load times.

An intuitive approach to navigation

Good navigation matters. Users will never appreciate having to constantly click back and forth through slow-loading pages because they tapped the wrong button or were misdirected.
Your visitors want to find exactly that they’re looking for with the bare minimum of hassle. Your school website should be built to allow for smooth, simple, intuitive navigation on all devices. Clear menus are a must, with obvious category titles and page layouts.
These key elements should guide you in building or overhauling your school website. Always keep the parents or children visiting your site, and their journey, in mind. Put yourself in their shoes and consider what would help you get the most out of the experience.

Helpful Pages your Responsive School Website Must Have

Your website should look and feel unique to your school. It should reflect your school’s values and goals as much as possible.
The tone of voice, images and colour scheme all need to capture the character of your school. Providing all the information parents and students require throughout the year is crucial, and there are certain staple pages you should incorporate to do so.


Always keep your school calendar updated with relevant events, such as holidays and special occasions. Give parents at-a-glance information they can find within seconds.
Letting your calendar go out of date may indicate to visitors that your school is unprofessional and disorganized.

Teacher profiles

Parents want to know who’s teaching their children. Include a brief bio and pictures of your teaching staff to help build a closer bond and cultivate a sense of community.


Who should parents call if their child is too sick to attend school one day? Who is in charge of organizing field trips or a school event? How can parents reach the head teacher?
Make sure you always carry up-to-date contact details on your school website, to give parents exactly what they need to reach your team. This is vital in emergencies.

School Jotter is an innovative platform allowing schools just like yours to build custom websites. More than 3,000 schools across the UK work with School Jotter, creating and maintaining their own domains with simple, user-friendly tools. Upload images and videos, reach out to parents with emails, host quizzes and more to engage with your community.
Please don’t hesitate to contact Webanywhere if you wish to learn more about how School Jotter can help you create the perfect website for your school.

Ofsted Requirements 2018/2019 – What Schools Must Publish Online

Published: September 20, 2018

The Department for Education updated the Ofsted requirements on the 24th May 2018.
To help you check if everything is up to date and get an outstanding rating, we have compiled a quick, easy checklist with all the information schools much publish on their website.

If you are a maintained school please download this guide:

If you are a free school, college or an academy please download this file:

Top 6 UK School Websites in 2018: Web Design Inspiration

Published: August 21, 2018

It is important to acknowledge that schools in Britain struggle to afford fancy, futuristic school websites with impressive school web design because of restraint budgets. However, some schools have gone the extra mile and have built websites that not only look impressive but also attract parents to choose their school over the competition. Here are the top six school websites that excite their visitors.

1. Hawksworth CofE Primary School

Hawksworth CofE Primary have used drone footage on their homepage to impress visitors with panoramic shots of their establishment. The website was rated high for its design and development, as it demonstrates its school facilities in the most modern way – using a drone. Through a creative blend of animation and video, the site immerses the user into a very engaging experience.

2. Great Barr Primary School Academy

From music and Google translate to drone footage, this website has it all! Brilliant sound web design, navigation mechanics, and visuals mixed with great tools like Google search, school calendar and school news. All help draw visitors in to this well-made school website.
This site was built using School Jotter, which is the leading school website builder in the UK. More than 4,000 schools use the platform globally.

3. Brill Church Of England School

The school uses a minimalistic theme on their website with big, compelling visuals of their pupils and headteacher. Simple, flat, white backgrounds accompanied by beautiful typography help users to find the information they look for on the website. Brill CofE Primary does a great job of visually telling the story of their school.

4. Queens Park Academy

The website for Queens Park Academy has incredible imagery, storytelling, visual design and responsiveness. No matter what device you use, the website looks amazing without losing any of its quality. We’ve tested it on desktop, iOS and Android.
Pages are easy to navigate and there aren’t any annoying objects that get in the way of browsing, such as banners, pop-up windows, or other unnecessary elements.

5. Hoyle Court Primary School

The homepage gives off a secure vibe, which is paramount for a school website. It is the ultimate example of simplicity and embaces whitespace. There are several pathways users can take when they navigate on the homepage, but the information is positioned well and worded simply for even the least educated parents.

6. Cranborne Primary School

With its cool simple web design, Cranborne Primary provides parents with all the information they need about their offsprings school. Their high resolution images tell stories that connect with pupils and school staff. It is visually powerful and unforgettable. The bold colours produce contrast, making the words and images stand out on the homepage.

For outstanding school web design solutions, visit the Webanywhere website. We have helped over 4,000 schools worldwide with our School Jotter platform.

Bespoke School Website Design: What are the Advantages

Published: May 31, 2018

Here at Webanywhere, we offer bespoke school web design and development services that provide schools with unique and highly functional websites, which are scalable, tailored to their needs, and are intended to offer the best user experience possible.
If your target is to generate a strong and unforgettable online brand image for your school, there is a plethora of benefits that come from investing in a bespoke school website.
In this article, we’ll discuss why a bespoke web design offers a more sustainable, professional advantage to your school in the long term.

Superiority Of Custom School Web Design

Your school website needs a personality, and designers will help you come up with a personalised solution, from start to finish. Important factors to consider include navigation, ease of use, layout, graphics and a color scheme.
Since a custom design site is built specifically for your needs, you gain more independence and control. You won’t have to worry about trying to adapt it to suit your purposes as you would with a standard school web design. As long as you are working with a good design team, they will be around to provide ongoing support.

Responsive Design

Responsive websites are designed to give users the best possible experience across all modern computers, tablets, smartphones, and internet ready devices.
In the last decade, mobile data traffic has increased 3000%, this is expected to increase by over 400% by 2021.
Think of the amount of times that you check your phone each day… How often do you use your phone to Google something or check on social media?
80% of internet user own a smartphone and there are more mobile users than desktop users. People have much shorter attention spans and will not give a website a second chance if it has a slow load time or will not display properly on their mobile device. Why should they? We live in a consumer savvy society in which people are used to online instant gratification thanks to technology.
On average, we spend three hours a day glued to our smartphones. A recent Huffington Post study showed that responsive websites saw a 37% increase in unique visitors and a 50% increase in time people spend on pages.

SSL Certificates are a Must

Whenever you use the internet, you are sharing packets of information. This might be something seemingly small, like a request for the contents of a website to be sent to your browser. It might be something more important, like details of a bank card. Every time you click on a link or fill in a form, you share a little bit of information and you get a bit back.
For websites without SSL certification, this information is not encoded. If someone intercepts it then they can read the information you have sent. The growth of wireless networks and mobile browsing has created more possibilities for interception than ever before.
SSL is important because it lets people use your website more safely. Those packets of information, however big or small, can’t be read if they are intercepted.
This has a lot of implications for a school website.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Search engine optimization or SEO in short, is a set of rules that can be followed by website owners to optimize their websites for search engines and thus improve their search engine rankings. For example, if a parent searches for your school on Google you want your website to appear first in search results.

  1. To make sure this happens, just follow these steps:
  2. Check your site’s health on Google Search Console.
  3. Submit your sitemap to Google.
  4. Take a good look at your title tags.
  5. Make sure your meta descriptions are snappy and engaging.
  6. Check for keyword cannibalisation.
  7. Claim your Google My Business listing.
  8. Link to high-authority websites.
  9. Share your knowledge in blog posts.
  10. Add alt tags to your images. Above all, focus on search intent and user experience.


Support and Security

Ensuring that you keep all software up to date is crucial in keeping your school website secure. This software includes the server operating system and also any CMS or forum software that is used on your site. Hackers can work their way into your website and cause trouble through outdated software.
Your web hosting company should take care of your operating system security updates.
It’s very important to use strong passwords for both your server and website admin areas. It’s equally as important to ask your web users to ensure that their passwords are strong. This will help them to protect the security of their accounts.
If you allow users to upload files to your website, it can be a big website security risk, even if it’s simply to change their avatar. The risk is that any file uploaded however innocent it may look, could contain a script that when executed on your server completely opens up your website.

The Bottom Line

So a bespoke school website should have a unique and true responsive design – not emulated. You will need an expert development and design team, such as Webanywhere, to support and assist you with this.
True scalability and the ability to integrate any online technology (as it becomes available) are a must as well as security from common vulnerabilities.
Most importantly, you need an optimised solution that is light, fast and responsive, and of course good value for money.

School Web Design Trends for 2018

Published: May 2, 2018

As a school, your school web design is your first impression. That means it’s also where your conversion opportunity lies – if you want to attract new parents/guardians and increase enrollment, having a remarkable website is the best place to start.
There’s nothing wrong with having a school website that looks similar to others, but you need to stand out among your competitors in some way. This is why in this article we’ll be discussing the 2018 trends of school web design.

The key components of a school website

To make your school website complete and perfect in 2018, you need the following key components.

  • Unique and eye catching design
  • Ofsted requirements (Download a checklist here.)
  • GDPR compliance
  • Responsive mobile friendly web pages
  • Search engine optimisation (SEO)
  • Contact page with an email form
  • Map showing your location
  • Availability and Booking system
  • High quality hosting

Each website is unique, but the successful ones generally follow a winning formula that contains the above elements.

Directing visitors towards the most important bits

Understanding influential visual cues will allow you to come up with a persuasive design that guides parents’ eye flow for maximum conversions.
Start with prioritising your website goals for a good visual hierarchy. List key points that visitors want to see on the school website. Then, prioritise and arrange them according to their visual importance.
You can use two types of directional cues to help you direct visitors towards the most important bits. Explicit cues take the form of arrows or lines while implicit cues use imagery to subtly direct your prospect’s gaze.

The principle of contrast

Contrast is defined as the difference between two or more elements. It creates visual interest and directs the attention of the user. Here’s an example of a school website that uses contrast.
If all of the elements on a school web page were the same in style and appearance there would be no organisation or hierarchy and the content would be nearly impossible to digest.
This makes contrast an essential part of effective school web design. It takes practice to learn and create the right amount of contrast in your designs but you can start by studying the work of talented designers to see how they use contrast.

Use User Stories to Build Your Website

A user story is a very short story – usually, about one sentence long, that describes something that the user wants to accomplish by using a service.
A good user story should be simple, engaging and accessible to a range of audiences, for example, young parents to old parents.
Stories can be written, drawn, spoken, or recorded. They are a powerful tool throughout multiple stages of the design process and can help persuade your audience.

Less can sometimes be more

Minimal web design doesn’t compromise your creative cutting edge. Your website doesn’t have to be too cluttered or glossy.
Visitors value a minimalist interface when navigating your school website as well as your social media pages.
Apply minimalist principles to make your school web design attractive and effective with fewer elements, simplifying and improving users’ online interactions. Check out examples here.

Implementing psychological motivators

Having a complete understanding of your audience will help you trigger the desired behaviour and increase enrollment.
There are some motivating factors that drive behaviour or key interactions on your school website. For example, the motivation analysis of your audience might reveal that parents in your area are curious, young and intelligent.
Be smart and create relevant content for your audience on your website. This is how you will convince them to choose your school over other schools in the area.

Responsiveness is key to a conversion centered design

Responsive school web design is the approach that suggests that design and development should respond to the user’s behaviour and environment based on screen size, platform and orientation.
As the spectrum of screen sizes and resolutions is widening every day, creating a different version of a school website that targets each individual device is not practical. The solution is a responsive web design for your school.
The number of users web browsing on mobile devices increases by 25% every year and mobile is the number one choice of device for accessing the Internet and social media.
With a responsive school web design, you will enable people using multiple devices (smartphones, tablets, desktops) to view your website properly.

Try before you buy

There are many school web design providers that allow schools to test out websites for free before deciding whether they want to pay for them. With School Jotter, you can start a free trial for 15 days!
Buying a website before trying it can be a big mistake that will affect your budget and the school community.

If you are after an outstanding school website, Webanywhere can help you using our School Jotter website builder. Join over 4,000 schools in the UK that use School Jotter websites, mobile apps and educational software.

What the Best Primary School Websites Have in Common

Published: February 14, 2018

A 2012 report published that there were over 24,000 schools educating 8.2 million pupils across the UK.
These schools were a mix of nursery schools, state-funded primary schools, state-funded secondary schools, special schools, pupil referral units and independent schools.
Of the thousands of state-funded and independent primary schools, there are only a select percentage that fall in the category of ‘outstanding websites’ as far as we’re concerned.
Web design creation and implementation is an art form, and educational institutions such as primary schools need to follow a set of distinct guidelines, when creating and maintaining a website for both parents and pupils to access and navigate.
There are several things that all of the top primary school websites in the UK must have in common.

A Personal and Welcoming Homepage

The homepage is the first thing that a parent or pupil will view as they are navigated from a search engine onto your school website.
It’s a shop window for prospective new parents to peruse as they weigh up what your primary school has to offer their child.
It’s got to entice, engage, invite, and inform viewers as they aim to get a feel for your school’s personality and what the school has to offer.
The homepage sets the tone for the entire school and acts as a doorway into the corridors and syllabus of your institution.
All homepages should include:

A personal introduction

This introduction should include a brief summary of the school, an overview of the schools’ location, and a friendly explanation of what to expect from the school website. All of this writing should be warm and inviting in tone. It’s not just children that have fear around going to school. Parents face the task of deciding their children’s future, so warmth and compassion can go a long way.

A message from the headteacher

Keep this message warm and consistent in tone with the rest of the homepage copy. This paragraph or two really sets the bar for the schools’ tone and personality so make sure it reflects it well, and makes people feel safe and welcome.

A guiding purpose

Visitors go to a school website with a purpose in mind. Therefore, it’s important for them to be able to access and find information with ease. Clear navigation and an uncluttered website, combined with instructional and educational copy, will ensure ease of access to all information.
83% of search query paths begin with an unbranded term, (such as best schools near me), your school’s homepage needs to easily answer five key questions right away to help searchers realise they are in the right place.
What does your school do?
What makes your school unique?>
How can I learn more?
Where can I find you?
Will I fit in?

Clear Cut Navigation

As mentioned above, clear navigation is paramount on all websites, especially school websites as they can hold a wealth of information on a wide range of topics.
Most school websites use an intuitive navigational system. This means that most visitors will find the information that they need, exactly where they expect to find it.
Intuitive navigation uses the following principles.

Simple/Concise Navigation Tabs

Try and keep the number of tabs available on the main navigation bar between five and seven. Visitors can become overwhelmed and confused when there appear to be too many options available. Crowded menus can also create confusion.

Sub Menus for Related Content

Grouping options together in drop-down menus beneath or alongside the navigation tabs is a great way of displaying information without overloading website users’ brains and causing confusion.

Internal Links

Hyperlinking text so that users can happily hop from one page to another to follow related content is a fantastic way to streamline the user journey and display relevant information easily.

Sensible Headings and Labels

Straightforward titles and headings make life a lot easier for people when trying to navigate through a website. If the link is to a lunch menu… Label it ‘Lunch Menu’… Make sure important information is easy to locate and access for all people.

Clearly Defined Links and Buttons

If something is clickable on your primary school website. Make sure that it stands out and that the link works. This is incredibly useful and really helps users find their way through your website with ease.


Keep the content engaging and informative throughout the website.


Make sure your tone and personality are similar throughout your website and really reflect that of your staff and school in general.
Keep it upbeat and positive so that your visitors stick around. Use a conversational tone in order to entice further communication with the reader.

Documents and Valid Information

Make sure that you upload all documents and information that will help parents, governors, pupils, and prospective parents as they get involved with your school.
Think about all of your frequently asked questions and address these concerns directly in the appropriate areas of your website.

Additional Content

Try and include relevant blogs that highlight the excellent standards, work, and achievements of your school. You may also consider providing links to community initiatives that the school is involved in, or relevant news stories.
Make sure you include clear calls to action right across the board on your website.

Clear Layout and Design

Utilise Necessary Blank Space

A seasoned web designer recognises the effectiveness of blank space. Websites need to breathe…, Ample blank space helps with the flow of reading and de-clutters the screen leaving the design nice and easy on the eye, without disrupting the clarity of information available.

Good Quality Images and Responsive Design

The images that you include on your school website are going to sell your school, your staff, the learning environment, and the facilities available.
Make sure they are clear, high quality, and enticing for all website viewers. Make sure that they are streamlined with the overall design and colour scheme of the school. Above all, make sure they truly represent your school and the values that you hold as a melting pot of creativity and education.
Over 52% of website traffic comes from mobile phone and tablets. Your website has to be designed to load clearly and responsively across all devices. Failure to do this can be embarrassing for schools, and disappointing for users!

All Multi Academy Trusts Must Publish a Policy Statement on Their Website Outlining How Providers can Access the School

Published: February 12, 2018

It is now a legal requirement for all Multi-Academy Trust schools in the UK to provide training providers access to pupils in years eight to thirteen.
In a push for awareness of non-academic routes of education, the ‘Baker Clause’ requires all schools to publish a policy statement on their website setting out their arrangements for provider access.
Introduced by former education secretary Lord Baker in May 2017, this law is an amendment to the ‘Technical and Further Education Act’.
The actual legal obligation for all trusts to publish a provider access statement came into action on January 2nd of this year, but has proven to be adopted slowly across the education industry.
Certain Multi Academy Trusts have been accused of resisting the promotion of non-vocational courses to their pupils, often preferring the promotion of more traditional educational subjects and academic courses.
However, Lord Baker has stressed the importance of fair access for all pupils as they reach important ‘transition points’ in their educational journeys. This is particularly relevant at the ages of 14, 16, and 18 years old when important academic decisions are being made, carving the pathways to further education or vocational careers.

What the statement should include:

The policy statement has to include procedures for accommodating access requests as well as details of the premises and facilities that will be provided.
Pupils and their parents need clear access to an online platform that will list all of the options available for pursuing vocational training courses and the providers of such courses. It should also list the facilities, transportation, and requirements needed for successful attendance and completion of such courses.

Multi-academy trusts fail to implement Baker clause

In a January article, Further Education Week published an article providing evidence that just two of the 10 largest multi-academy trusts in the UK had complied with the legal duty outlined in the Baker Clause.
By the end of January, of ten trusts investigated, only The Kennel Academies Trust and Delta Academies Trust had responded with a copy of their statements and proof that they had published them on their school websites.
Some Academies admitted to FEW that they had prepared a document to upload onto their websites, blaming time constraints and busy periods over Christmas for lack of publication. Others declined to comment when questioned as part of the FEW investigations.

Vocational qualifications to come under greater scrutiny

In 2014, Ofqual announced that it would remove accreditation and change the way vocational courses were regulated in order to improve quality across England and Northern Ireland.
This move was decided so that more openings would become available for a number of potential school leavers across the UK. With vocational courses focusing on design, delivery and awarding as opposed to entry requirements and accreditation.
Ongoing studies have claimed that future generations of school leavers should turn their backs on university education and opt for a more vocational pathway, preparing them for a trade as opposed to an academic degree.
In the UK, there has been a sharp rise in the projected number of medium and low skilled jobs, whilst across some industries there has been a decline in demand for university graduates across the board.
Another 2014 study claimed that two thirds of jobs created by 2022 will be in low or medium skilled occupations that do not demand a degree as a requirement.
This equates to more than 9 million school leavers, therefore the demand for vocational courses and access to such courses is expected to increase rapidly.
However, the most ‘in-demand’ occupation of the future will be linked to health and social care as rising numbers of school leavers are needed to care for the aging population in the UK.

DofE Statutory Guidelines

The Department of Education has stated that the reason the ‘Baker Clause’ has been pushed into UK law is that all pupil should have a clear idea of the range of routes into the workplace. This is so that each individual has the opportunity to make educated and informed decisions about their future, with confidence.
To enforce the ‘Baker Clause’ The DofE published statutory guidelines for schools across the UK on January 2nd 2018. These guidelines clearly stated that schools have to provide opportunities for technical education and apprenticeship providers to talk to pupils, and to publish a statement on their website.
In 2017 the Telegraph Education published the findings of a new report which claims that the number of degree apprentices in the UK is to increase by 650%.

Degree apprenticeships

Degree apprenticeships were introduced UK wide in 2015 and enable applicants to split their time between their universities to study, and the workplaces in industries in which they will eventually be employed. The cost of course fees are split between the Government and employers.
A range of employers of varying sizes are already partnering with universities across the UK to work with these degree apprenticeships.
Some of the brands involved include Mercedes-Benz, Nestle, IBM, Airbus, and Transport for London.
A Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) is a single entity established to undertake a strategic collaboration to improve and maintain high educational standards across a number of schools. A group of schools form a single MAT which has overarching responsibility for their governance.
It’s unclear how long it will take for all UK Multi-Academy trusts to obey the educational laws and publish a policy statement on their websites. However, it is a legal requirement and trusts could face penalties if they fail to comply with government set standards.

Our school e-learning specialists can help you create your policy fast. Get in touch with us today for further information.

Do School Websites Need SSL Certificates?

Published: January 22, 2018

To someone running a school website, it’s not always clear which developments in the web you need to follow. Many websites are commercial projects and so what matters to them may not matter to you.
One of the most important developments in recent years is the growth of SSL certification. This raises two important questions for anyone running a school website:

  • what is SSL? and
  • do I need it for my school?


What is SSL Certification?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It’s the name for the predecessor of Transport Layer Security (TLS), a system that lets computers communicate safely with each other. Though SSL is now redundant, the phrase “SSL certificate” still refers to a public key certificate, an important part of the TLS system.
An SSL certificate is a digital file associated with your website. It has two important effects.
Firstly, it provides evidence that this is the real version of your website and not an imposter using your name to gain people’s information.
Secondly, it is used to encrypt information your users put into the website. This means that, if someone intercepts the information, they will not be able to read it. Only you can decrypt the data and read the message. This is very important when making financial transactions or sharing private information.
You can tell if a website has an SSL certificate in three ways:

  • Its address starts with https instead of http.
  • Your browser may show a padlock next to the site’s address.
  • Depending upon your browser, the browser bar may change colour to draw attention to the certification.

Why Does SSL Matter?

Whenever you use the internet, you are sharing packets of information. This might be something seemingly small, like a request for the contents of a website to be sent to your browser. It might be something more important, like details of a bank card. Every time you click on a link or fill in a form, you share a little bit of information and you get a bit back.
For websites without SSL certification, this information is not encoded. If someone intercepts it then they can read the information you have sent. The growth of wireless networks and mobile browsing has created more possibilities for interception than ever before.
SSL is important because it lets people use your website more safely. Those packets of information, however big or small, can’t be read if they are intercepted.
This has a lot of implications for a school website.

Peace of Mind

One important thing that SSL provides is peace of mind. Not everybody understands SSL or the importance of internet security, but most people have noticed the padlock symbol in the browsing bar. They know that it shows that a site is safer to use.
SSL certification gives reassurance to your site’s users. Internet savvy parents will recognise that you are security conscious and that your site is safe to use. Even those less informed about technology will recognise that familiar padlock logo.
Importantly, browsers sometimes flag up sites that don’t have SSL certification, with a glaring red symbol to show that the site is not secure. This can be alarming for users, whether or not they understand what SSL is. It may not be something you want associated with a school site.

Sharing Information

SSL lets you securely share information through your website. This lets you turn the site into an interactive experience, a valuable hub for communication and work.
With SSL certification, you can provide secure webforms for parents to send messages to the school, book events, and keep up on their children’s activities. You can provide online spaces such as e-portfolios for pupils to upload their work and network with their peers. Your website can become a central hub for learning.
You can also use a secure website to communicate with staff. Information and resources can be shared through a secure site.


One of the reasons for a school to have a website is to increase its visibility, both in the local community and in the wider world.
Visibility on the web is increasingly dependent upon SSL certification. Google, the most popular search engine, gives higher search rankings to sites with SSL certification than to those without, as it steers its users towards safer sites. If you have SSL certification, your site will show up higher in the rankings and so be more visible to people surfing the web.

Setting an Example

Schools have to consider a factor that most other websites don’t – their role in educating both pupils and parents.
Schools set examples, whether good or bad. If pupils and parents regularly see a school website without SSL certification then they will get used to it. They are more likely to view unsecured websites as safe to use. After all, teachers are expected to know what they are doing, even in areas outside their expertise.
On the other hand, if the school website is certified then parents and pupils are more likely to treat this as the norm. They will ask questions if they see a website without signs of certification. This will make them safer in their use of the internet.

Does My School Website Need SSL?

SSL certification isn’t essential for a school website. It’s not yet the universal standard for legitimate websites.
But certification brings a lot of advantages. It lets you make your website more interactive for pupils, parents, and staff. It provides a sense of security for people using the site. And it supports the school’s role as an educator, setting an example in the safe use of information technology.
You might not need SSL certification to get your website up and running, but to create a modern site and set your school up for future success, it’s almost certainly worth the extra effort.