Get Your Website Ofsted-Ready

Read our blog to find out how to ensure your school website meets and even exceeds expectations to set a positive tone for your next Ofsted inspection.
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First impressions count, especially online. In today’s digital age, more and more people are relying on the internet to find information and make decisions about everything from holiday plans and dinner ideas, through to which school to send their children to. As a result, your school website essentially acts like your shop window. It’s your first chance to showcase all the wonderful things your school has to offer, including your talented staff, incredible facilities, and pupil achievements. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that so many schools have invested in making sure their website is professional, attractive, and stands out against the crowd. 

But, of course, it’s not just parents and pupils that you have to consider. We know that Ofsted inspectors view school websites as part of the inspection process. Very often, they will have begun to form an opinion of your school well before they have walked through the door! Therefore, it’s essential that your school website meets and even exceeds expectations to set a positive tone for your next inspection.

What is Ofsted looking for?

According to the School Information (England) Regulations (2008), as amended by The School Information (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2012 and 2016, and other relevant legislation including the Equality Act 2010: advice for schools and the Children and Families Act 2014, every local authority-maintained school must publish specific information on its website. 

Statutory information includes school policies, financial information, governance arrangements, as well as all the essential need-to-know information for parents and pupils, such as your school contact details, opening hours and uniform requirements. Inspectors will also check that assessment data, performance tables, and your most recent Ofsted report are all available to view on your website. Remember, Ofsted’s requirements are known to change from time to time, so it’s important to regularly review your school website and ensure it is up to date with the current guidance.

From an inspector’s point of view, your website should reflect the quality of your school. Therefore, any errors or missing details will be flagged as areas of concern. Often, issues with the website will be used to evidence concerns surrounding a school’s leadership and management. For example, a school in County Durham recently received the following criticism in their Ofsted report: ‘Leaders do not regularly canvas opinions, and methods of communication between home and school are sometimes fragmented. It does not help that some information on the school website is out of date.’ 

To ensure a smooth start to your inspection, it’s important to ensure that the information on your school website is accurate, up to date, and easy to find. Otherwise, your website could negatively impact your school’s Ofsted rating, even if it is otherwise outstanding. 

Going above and beyond

At the bare minimum, every school should ensure their website contains all statutory information. But it’s important to note that Ofsted will look favourably on those who have gone the extra mile to make their website outstanding.

To showcase your school’s commitment to excellence, it’s important to consider the user journey when laying out your website. This is a series of steps that visitors may take across your website in order to reach a particular goal, whether that’s a parent who wants to find out term dates, or an inspector who is checking that your website meets current standards.

If your website is cluttered and difficult to navigate, Ofsted inspectors and other visitors are likely to give up and leave before finding the information they need. To ensure your website is well-organised, ask yourself what information are parents most likely to want to know? What about prospective families who want to apply to your school? Or, indeed, Ofsted inspectors who want to review your school’s statutory information? Begin by grouping these different categories under relevant headers. Then you can start organising your information in a concise and logical way that makes it easy to find. The “3 Click Rule” is often considered best practice, which means visitors should be able to find the information they need within three clicks or less. 

An outstanding school website should also be regularly updated to inform the community about the latest news, events, and developments taking place in school. This will demonstrate your school’s commitment to communicating and building connections with parents, which is guaranteed to impress Ofsted inspectors. But what does informative, engaging content look like? Be creative! Consider weekly class blogs to showcase children’s writing skills as they report on what they have recently learnt in school. Or, you could share “day in the life” videos that give a glimpse into school life through the eyes of your teachers and support staff. Perhaps the pastoral team could write a monthly wellbeing newsletter, or you could collect testimonials from parents and pupils. 

The possibilities are endless, but try not to get carried away. Keep the user journey in mind and be careful not to overcrowd your website. Remember to remove old news, outdated policies, and photographs from that school trip you took seven years ago! Your school website should be frequently refreshed to ensure information is up-to-date, relevant, and engaging for visitors. This shows that your school is willing to go above and beyond to connect with your community and ensure everyone is kept informed and included. 

Is your school website Ofsted-ready?

Whether you want to redesign your school website, or simply give it a refresh, our School Marketing experts can work with you to ensure your website is not only Ofsted-compliant, but performs to a high professional standard and leaves a positive first impression.  

Our full comprehensive service includes: 

  • Website design and build
  • Content writing and management
  • Photography and film
  • Website health checks
  • Ofsted compliancy checks

If you would like to learn more, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. 

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