Getting a brand new realsmart school website is easy – you don’t even need to start from scratch. We can rework and mould your existing website into something fresher, simpler and more beautiful. We spoke to Angela at Hebburn Lakes Primary in South Tyneside about the design process behind their brand new website…
What did you have before your realsmart website? How did you engage with your parents? And then as a consequence, what’s the biggest difference since we launched this website a few months ago?
“We had a website prior to the one we had with realsmart that I used to run. We had to manage everything ourselves. It was very time consuming because you had to upload everything into the media library, whether that was a PDF document for example or a photo. Everything went into the media library and then you had to put it into the page or into the post. We also have, um, we also use Castio, but that was an internal thing, so it’s for parents only. So for the community or anybody that didn’t see the Class Dojo. And the other thing we used to use was like a parent hub just to get messages out with the parents. We now no longer use that because of the website.”
So this site is easier to use than the previous one in terms of the speed of getting stuff up there?
“The site is much better to use now that we also use integrated Google Drive. We change our knowledge organisers and our homework menus every time we move on to a new theme. So it’s a matter of moving those in and out with folders and they become live. It is as simple as that really. If they’re in the folder, they’re not live. If they’re out, they’re live, they’re all numbered named accordingly.”
I’ve noticed you’re using one of our plugins called Smart Attendance on the Front page. Why is it important to show attendance on the front page of your website?
“It’s extremely important to show attendance on our website. Parents need to understand what we’re pushing for, why we want their children in school – why their children should be here.“
“Then the thing next to our attendance is an Event Calendar. When I click on a calendar event, I can actually add it to my own diary, and that’s for parents as well – which is really handy for them. Our parents are aware of what’s coming up.”
What other content are you regularly posting? Do you have timeframes for it? And do you know if parents engage with it?
“Yeah. So, the other thing is that the staff all do two weekly posts and it’s of their choosing – something that’s gone on in their classroom, sharing lovely learning and different experiences. So it could be computing or PE. And because the news also feeds into the year group and it also feeds into a subject, it then keeps it all up to date really with what’s going on. We see a minimum of two, but it depends.”
So I see there is a Year Four news category – would you describe these as class blogs?
“I suppose you could describe them as a class blog. It’s very much about what’s gone on in your classroom, possibly that day or that lesson you might be sharing work that the children have achieved. Or it might just be the information that we need to get out the parents. We do the weekly attendance, so we celebrate all the attendance and things, so they go out weekly – it’s a bit like a blog in that respect.”
What do you think the advantages are for sharing things like pictures of student work or the activities that they’re taking part in with parents?
“I think because we’re sharing the picture or the video and the children know that we’re sharing, they’re keen and show their parents and grandparents. So what you find is that they’ll say ‘have a look, have a look!’, or it pings through their phone. They want to see their child, you know, they want to see the celebration.”
So those community links are going out via your website and not through pieces of paper in bags or post-its on the door?
“We have definitely cut down on the amount of paper that leaves this building – almost everything goes out via the website.”
What do you think a new visitor, prospective parent or an OFSTED inspector would, would think when they look at your website for the first time? How does it tell the story of your school?
“I think our website is us – it’s Hebburn Lakes. The virtual school tour offers a dynamic immersive experience – it showcases our curriculum and you become fully immersed in Hebburn Lakes.”
What are the benefits for the child as a learner?
“The families can see that work and they can talk about that work with their families when they’re at home. The children are aware that it is a safe website for them. Beyond that, they can access it and there are certain things there for the children.”
“Teachers sharing things on the website then extends the learning into the home, because when the children go home and somebody says, ‘Oh, what have you been doing today?’ Or, ‘Oh, I’ve seen you do this today.’, the child will then talk about what it is they’ve learned – it builds on that knowledge, that understanding.”
“They can share what they’ve learned with the family, and sometimes our families will then go one step further because we’ve done that, and then they’ll go on the homework menu and they’ll go, ‘Oh, because they’ve been so interested, we’ll do something to go along with that.”
What was the experience of the website design like for you?
“From the initial conversation of deciding that we wanted to go with you and having the website built, I can’t see where there were any real issues at all. I had timely responses from anybody who was involved. They were very good with giving me the direction that I needed and giving all the information that I wanted. They were very happy to say, ‘we’ve got something like this.”
“The designers were great because I was told I’m quite a particular person for what I want – and I did get absolutely everything! It went beyond my expectation!”
What about the creation of the video?
“I think it was produced very quickly – the whole virtual tour is amazing. That video just being on the front page and showcasing Hebburn Lakes is great.”
“I would highly recommend realsmart to anybody who is looking to create a school website because they really went above and beyond.”
Have you got any future plans for the website?
“The thing that I’m hoping to move the website forward with is the subscription function, so that parents can sign up and they’ll automatically get that update that comes through from the website. Keeping the website current – when we change something in school, we keep the website updated to reflect what we’re doing in school.”
“We update the front page regularly. There’s a step-by-step guide for all of our staff for when they put onto the website, which is extremely easy.”
“I want the front page to be as current as it possibly can be. We give our parents as much information as possible, whether it be a curricular activity for their child or some kind of support.”
All of these wonderful features and it’s as easy to update as sending an email – with a realsmart school website you’ll learn more and you’ll learn faster.