Kiwi Primary School is, at first glance, a strange name to give to a British primary school from Wiltshire. In fact, when I first read about it, I assumed it was one of our New Zealand customers, the kiwi not being a particularly diverse species on the Salisbury plain. In looking into it though, I found some truly interesting things out.
The school’s name comes from the Bulford Kiwi, a chalk figure etched into the hillside above Bulford Camp, less than four miles away from Stonehenge. It was created by New Zealand soldiers after World War One (there’s the New Zealand connection!), recuperating in the English countryside. Initially an infant school, Kiwi was merged with a junior school in the 1960s and the more distinctive name was retained.
The antipodean roots are clearly visible in the school’s website, from the smiling cartoon kiwi figure in the header to the names of the class events listed in the event-packed calendar. Every effort has been made to create an attractive, welcoming and informative website. Given the nature of the school’s situation in a military camp, a large number of the children at the school are from military families, so providing information is crucial for a frequently transient population.
Kiwi’s “About us” page is invaluable for anyone who needs to know key information such as enrolment and times – too often features either missing or hidden from school websites. All the information is clearly laid out and easy to find.
Overall, a fantastic website for a truly unique school!
By Becky Cunliffe
There are many posts online about how to make a great website, and many similar posts on what to avoid; these tend to be fairly generic. In this blog I’ll summarise some of the key things that, in my opinion, should be considered, and what should be forgotten about, when it comes to school websites in particular.
My top tips:
- Remember the Purpose – It’s important to remember what the point of the website is. Is it to encourage parents to use your school? Is it a portal for parents? Is it for students to check for events?
Remember you may have other systems or sites for these purposes, so link to them rather than try to fit it all on your website.
- Make it easy to find – Navigation is crucial and can lose visitors; if it is not easy to see where to go, they may give up.
- Planning – Rushing into the site may result in bulky pages, so always try to plan out what pages you are going to have and what should be on them. Don’t forget to use links to try and keep pages short, if they want more information they can go to the additional pages.
- Update it – Nothing discourages visitors more than finding an event being advertised that was over 5 years ago, as this creates the impression that the site may no longer be in use. Likewise, try to remove your old website from the web to stop parents ending up in the wrong place.
- Use colour – Try to not make the website a textbook. Add some relevant images or colour to the page, but do make sure your page is still readable and easy on the eyes.
I would strongly recommend avoiding the following:
- Sound – This can startle visitors and often they will simply mute their speaker. It also asks the question, why do you need that sound?
- Animation – Small gifs can be useful but try to avoid anything that changes the whole page, such as leaves falling down the page. This just causes annoyance when trying to view the page and can get in the way.
- Several-tiered menus – Keep your navigation to 1-2 submenus only. At a certain point the visitor may be lost, or if its a hover-over menu they may lose their place.
- Large files – Keep images, files, videos etc to a smaller size so visitors are not waiting on downloads.
- Too much info – Remember, a website is there to show information, but try not to overwhelm it with too many pages. Use the other Jotter Apps and any system or sites you may have, and try to remember what the purpose is of each to avoid duplication.
Every week, schooljotter.com names one school website its School Jotter of the Week – showcasing those websites that are great examples of how a school website should be. Now, we want you to tell us if you think you have an outstanding School Jotter!
Holy Family Catholic Primary School, between Manchester and Wigan, have populated their School Jotter website with a huge amount of content – and you can see that it’s updated regularly.
The content they’ve included must be a dream for Ofsted inspectors – take their newsfeed for example. News stories include the latest newsletter, information regarding their funding for sports provision and information about their new Google Translate option – a popular feature for School Jotter website users.
Another good feature – something that more school websites should have – is a Governors area. On Holy Family’s website, this is a restricted area available for those with log in details only – so it means their website acts as an online portal for storing important documents safely.
Holy Family Catholic Primary School’s website is a great example of how a school website could be used – and will help them with future Ofsted inspections (an Inspector’s first port of call, remember, is the school’s website). If your school is looking at revamping or putting more time into developing and improving its website, take a look at Holy Family Catholic Primary School’s website here. You can request a School Jotter demo here.