The Westborough School’s website represents their location perfectly: with a beautiful design showing a beach and gentle waves, backed by blue skies.
Having a bespoke design for your School Jotter website allows you to be a little more creative with how the website looks – but of course the content is just as important. The Essex school have plenty of content uploaded for children and parents – here are our favourite bits.
The Our Classes section breaks down what’s being studied, accompanied by photographs and, for some classes, information regarding the teacher and teaching assistants. This is a great area for parents to go to find out what their child will be doing – and catch up on recent activities via photographs.
The best feature is Virtual Office: here, parents can find out everything they need to know, without having to ask the school or their child’s teacher. From school uniform details and reporting absences, to newsletters and school meal information, it’s all here. There’s even a question and answer section, in case a parent’s query isn’t answered in the other areas of this section.
Take a look at The Westborough School’s website by clicking here.
Getting more visitors to your website: how do you do it? With so many websites competing for people’s time and attention these days, there’s one way your School Jotter website can reach more people quicker: SEO.
What’s SEO? It’s Search Engine Optimisation, the art of getting your website as high as possible in search results on sites like Google. All is revealed in our new, free white paper, Increase Your Schools Rankings In Google, which you can find by clicking here.
In this white paper, we discuss the ways to increase your website’s rankings in Google. This will help to increase your school’s awareness within the local area, and get you in front of more existing and potential parents and pupils. Follow the guide, and soon your website will become a buzzing community of web visitors!
If you have any ideas or suggestions on how to improve your school website’s search rankings, let us know below.
At Webanywhere, one of the most common stories we hear is schools struggling to get to grips with complicated, difficult-to-update websites. By the time they’ve spoken to us the ICT Coordinator has resorted to pulling their hair out; the rest of the school having lost interest months previously.
Redlands Primary and Nursery School were one such school. None of the school website solutions they’d looked at were right for them – they wanted something easy for the school to use on a daily basis. School Jotter, however, was just what they needed.
The school’s Website Administrator, Patricia White, loved the features of School Jotter: from the virtual tour option to its multiple contributors capability, it soon became an everyday part of Redlands School life. Now, everyone from the teachers to parents use it. “115 of our parents have signed up to the electronic newsletter and enjoy regular updates,” says Patricia, who found having the website as a communication tool particularly useful during last year’s heavy snowfall.
In fact, Patricia has been so happy with School Jotter, she’s recommended it to others, which is just about the best kind of endorsement we can hope for.
Redlands’ School Jotter experience is now a case study on our parent website, webanywhere.co.uk – you can read it here.
Michael Gove has made the decision that the Harnessing Technology Grant for 2010/11 will be cut by £100 million to contribute to the development of “Free Schools” nationally. This translates as an in year cut to local authorities and schools of at least 50%.
This suggests essential ICT systems will be unable to be maintained and improved – unless schools can find smarter ICT solutions, or use technology to achieve efficiency savings elsewhere in the value chain. Here are some ideas worth exploring.
1. Switch your email exchange servers for cloud-based services
There’s a viable alternative to maintaining your own email exchange servers – services like Google Apps or Microsoft Live are free and both provide fully secure, branded virtual space for email, document sharing and storage. You can even retain your existing school-specific email address. London Grid for Learning estimates that London schools have saved approximately £11m since transferring to Microsoft’s service last year. 2. Forget software licences – go Open Source!
Open Source software for learning platforms and e-learning content enable development and ongoing upgrade costs to be minimised. 3. Upgrade to the latest OS and save on power management
If you upgrade to the latest operating systems you will be able to take advantage of enhanced power-saving features, saving costs of between £23 and £46 per computer per year. 4. Switch to remote access
Microsoft’s latest operating platform (Windows 7) makes setting up remote access much more straightforward. Additionally some VPNs make use of free software packages that need no special hardware or software on the network to enable remote access. 5. Allow pupils to use their own laptops
Recent British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) research revealed that secondary schools spend 48% per of their ICT budget on new computers. Schools may consider asking parents to contribute by providing their children with their own computers for school and home use. 6. Change the way you communicate
Like encouraging parents to provide computers, this requires a significant cultural shift. The way in which student relationships at school are formed and nurtured are being reshaped as hallways of classrooms switches to social networks on digital learning platforms. There are inherent dangers in students using social networking that need to be managed – however, safe messaging tools for use in the classroom and at home can be provided, enabling students to access multimedia resources in a controlled environment.
Webanywhere customers that are LMS users may be interested to read that the core functionality of the world’s most popular open source LMS is built around five principles that have guided development since the earliest days. These beliefs can be clearly seen in the design (the forums, glossary, wiki, etc) which all provide ample opportunities for students to create materials in a safe/secure online environment which can instantly be seen and reviewed by peers.
A recent survey by the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) has revealed that just 2% of primary school teachers believed that investing in new libraries was more important than investing in ICT for the classroom. This would seem to suggest that, as schools see their funding squeeze, many feel under pressure to spend what they have on new technology rather than traditional learning materials.
Ray Barker, director, BESA commented: “Due to the increase in the provision and use of interactive whiteboards, pupil computers and supporting digital content, the importance of traditional library facilities is of concern, especially where banks of computers have been provided in the space that may have previously held storage for books. The growing use of eBooks and of the internet for research, is putting pressure on schools to justify expenditure on traditional books.”
Barker added: “We are now naturally experiencing a reduction in estimated ICT allocations from school budgets. However, despite schools being faced with many financial pressures, the survey indicates schools are managing the cuts sensibly and with optimism.”
At Webanywhere we’re helping schools to stretch their ICT budgets by developing digital learning platforms that use open source technologies and creating innovative product pricing ‘bundles’ that lower the unit cost of provision.
Following the spending review Webanywhere has released new pricing packages to help schools beat the cuts and improve their efficiency.
Our pricing options have been created to ensure that the provision of learning technologies to students need not be compromised to meet recalibrated budgets. By choosing one of the bundled suites, schools can make considerable cost savings compared with purchasing individual products.
Additionally, schools can look to make productivity gains by using individual Webanywhere products to change the way that existing services are provided. One example is Payschool, which enables schools to collect electronic payments from parents for school trips, meals and donations – providing longer term cost saving solutions compared with traditional payment methods such as cash and cheques.
Schools are facing tougher decisions than ever before to close funding gaps while maintaining quality of service.
WebAnywhere is 100% committed to developing new web-based technology solutions that allow schools to maximise their ICT investment while improving efficiency.
As school managers will be aware, the Department of Education has been asked to prepare plans for cuts of between 10% and 20%. This would come to between £5.71bn and £11.42bn.
While it is now widely expected that front-line schools budgets (those received from local authorities via the Dedicated Schools grant,or DSG) will be protected from the worst of the cuts, the full impact on school spending will require very careful reading of the detail.
Of particular interest is the impact on ICT investments within schools. The cuts inevitably carry some threats to the modernisation of the teaching and learning profession – some projects have already been scrapped, including education facilitator BECTA.
On the other hand, there may be opportunities for schools to save costs and increase efficiencies – particularly in areas such as cloud computing, open source and even the prospect of local authority collaboration to achieve savings through sharing resources and/or technology expertise.
Whatever the outcome of Wednesday’s announcement, many schools will be looking very hard at the small print before making planning decisions for their next budget year.
Lent Rise Secondary School in Buckinghamshire has been a Webanywhere customer for the last 3 years. The school is at the cutting edge of ICT, with pupils using their ICT skills in all areas of their work. ICT has even been used to establish links with schools across Europe, Africa and Asia, contributing to the pupils’ cultural awareness.
WebAnywhere products used:
• Language Resources – Frenchanywhere
• School Surveys – Feedbackanywhere
• Online Maths Tests – Mathsanywhere
• Podcasting for Schools – RadioAnywhere
• Video Broadcasting for Schools – VideoAnywhere
Lent Rise (Lent Rise Learning World) is widely used by pupils, teachers, parents and governors.
Parents can raise concerns via the VLE and support their child’s learning through regularly checking their child’s targets.
Community cohesion is an integral and fundamental part of the school’s vision. When Lent Rise came to choose the school’s VLE, it was imperative it provided the necessary tools to enable parental engagement. Lent Rise is now determined to ensure these tools are used.
Parents are shown how the school uses ICT and how it can be used within the home or after school to support pupil and family learning. When the school first started to use School Jotter only 20% of parents
had broadband access to the internet at home. Now, only 6% do not.
Recently Lent Rise School has decided to opt for School Jotter and SIMS integration to enhance their VLE. Integrating the two systems will enable Lent Rise to present parents with
up-to date attendance data on their children and will significantly reduce the administrative duties of the staff. “WebAnywhere’s School Jotter platform is a versatile and flexible way of providing home access to pupil, parents and the school community. WebAnywhere staff are approachable and take into consideration the needs of the individual school when planning and setting up systems. Pupils, parents and governors all find Lent Rise Learning World a valuable online resource.” Mrs J Watson
Assistant Headteacher, Lent Rise School