How your school website can help new parents

When it comes to preparing their child for school, new parents often need help. Parents have questions about everything, from uniform policies to term dates. Instead of having legions of parents clogging up your reception phone lines with inquiries, savvy schools use their websites to communicate important information.

Take a look at some of the ways you can use your school website to help parents and cut the burden on your admin staff.

Include Information On Lunch Menus

New parents want to know what type of food your school offers and whether it meets their child’s dietary requirements. It’s a good idea, therefore, to include a section on your website where you detail what’s on the menu from week to week, as well as provide dietary guidance.

If you take a look at the website of many private schools, they often reassure parents with statements like “we cater to children who eat a vegetarian diet” or “we provide for all dietary requirements, including vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free and kosher.”

Putting a statement like this on your website prevents that inevitable phone call to your reception desk, asking whether you can accommodate a particular dietary requirement or not. If you can’t, then it’s a good idea to state this explicitly: “we do not cater to vegan diets: children following these diets will need to bring a packed lunch.”

Provide Annotated Uniform Lists

Your school uniform might be painfully familiar as a member of staff or the senior management team, but it would be an error to assume that the same holds for new parents. It might not be obvious exactly what is acceptable uniform and what isn’t.

Uniforms are complicated for new parents. Unless you have a policy where each child has to wear the same items of clothing from a preferred garment-maker, parents have an uncomfortable degree of leeway. Is the jumper they want to buy black enough to satisfy school policy? Do their child’s shoes meet school regulations?

Your website is a great tool that you can use to help parents facing these dilemmas. The first thing you could do is offer parents the opportunity to buy all uniform items as a bundle by forwarding them to your supplier, cutting out the complication. You could also include an annotated list detailing all school-approved uniform items, and include information on what is acceptable and what isn’t. Don’t forget to include gym kit items in the list.

Post Timetables

Parents need to know school timetables so they can fit their children’s activities around the working day. You don’t need to post the schedule of every individual lesson on the itinerary: just the stuff that will have a direct impact on parents. Parents often find it helpful, for instance, if you give them information about which afterschool clubs operate on any particular day, and what time they finish. You may also want to do the same for breakfast clubs. By including timetables, parents can better schedule their time.

Include Information About Upcoming Events

Your website is a great place to inform parents about upcoming events at your school. If parents can attend an event, you could include a booking feature on your website to automate ticket allocation.

Tell Parents What Equipment Their Children Need

The list of equipment that children need for school can be extensive. The list could include the stationery items a child needs (and any specific requirements like having to use a fountain pen), sports equipment and textbooks.

Include Your Most Recent Ofsted Report

Did you know that it is a regulatory requirement? All schools either need to provide a downloadable copy of the most recent Ofsted report on their website or a link to the Ofsted website so that parents can interpret the results of the report.

Include Information About The Complains Procedure

New parents may want to know how they can make a complaint to the school if something goes wrong. Again, schools are legally obliged to provide details about the complaints process on their websites.

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