8 things to add to your school website to help new parents this summer
New starters for September – can parents find the info they need this summer?
For your new starters we are sure you will be making all sorts of arrangements for transition days, information evenings for parents, and all the behind-the-scenes preparation which goes alongside welcoming your new intake this year.
Whether you are welcoming children into the Early Years, or those moving to “big school” the parents will find they are trying to take in a lot of new information at once. Even if they make it to all available meetings, they are bound to forget some things and also not think to ask some of the questions they may have as they prepare their child for the new school year.
Your school website is a great place to add information which will aid their transition and make sure things run smoothly for everyone. It can also save your school office staff a lot of time answering questions over the phone when they are working on other things. Then all you need to do is keep pointing parents to your easy-to-navigate and information-packed website. You might even want to a have a “New Parents Information” area to ensure they can easily find everything they need without wading through whistle-blowing policies and photos from last year’s residential.
So what kind of things can you include in your “New Parents” area?
1. Uniform lists
The national press do love to run a few “teens sent home for wearing the wrong shoes” stories in September so fend them off at the pass by ensuring easy access to the full list of accepted uniform and recommended shops to buy from. Include clear “mandatory” and “optional” items so that parents can make judgments based on their budget. If you have a second-hand uniform shop at school or a way for parents to request this make that clear as well – you may even go the extra mile and post photos in a gallery with prices attached although this one will require you to keep it up to date.
2. Lunch menus
Although menus might not seem like the biggest deal for most children due to arrive at school, for those children who do have any negative associations with food (or are just vegetable-avoiding toddlers!) some sample menus and an explanation of how school dinners will work can really help parents to prepare for the school year and make choices about hot dinners versus packed lunches and so on. Finding prices for dinners, where to apply for Free School Meals, and reading the rules for lining up and choosing lunches can all help ease the transition for any children who might be nervous of the lunch hall. Dinner time can seem quite chaotic for any child with sensory processing disorder so any information they have which reduces the cognitive load by planning in advance would really help.
Although you may be working on the finer points of the timetable still over summer, sharing a work in progress (labelling it as such or “Sample”) can give pupils an idea of an average day at school. You may also want to add a page with expectations of amount of homework per week, available homework or after school clubs, wraparound care and any other options available so that students can see that the timetable doesn’t necessarily start at 9am and end at 3pm. Parents may also not know expectations of the school times if they have moved from elsewhere in the world where differences can vary hugely.
4. A virtual tour or floor plans
Not every parent will get the chance to attend visits to the school, and pupils may also want reminders over the summer, so photos of facilities, classrooms, and school grounds can help to prepare pupils mentally for navigating around the building. You may want to add floor plans so those who want to can start to memorise their routes between areas.
5. Equipment lists
From the basics of pencils and rulers, through to cricket bats and different PE kits for different seasons, an equipment list can really help parents to prepare for any upcoming costs. Sharing good retailers with deals on for any items can really help with budgets. Make it clear whether equipment is needed immediately in September or comes later on as parents might not want to buy everything new over summer, but knowing they need something means if they see it in a charity shop or on sale from a friend helps them snap up an early bargain rather than getting a surprise later.
6. Residential and Other School Excursions information
Any exciting excursions that usually happen over the year, or discos and other special events, can be useful to share as it may help convince pupils that they picked the right school! Even the most keen of learners has some trepidation about a new school so finding out what they have to look forward to can help them to see that there is plenty to get excited about!
7. A photo gallery
A gallery sharing pictures of key events over the previous year with a good soundtrack can be a very emotive way to show students everything they have to look forward to. Make sure it is realistic (not all days out and exploding things in science!) so it includes lessons but also shows children having fun and some of the key elements of what makes your school unique.
8. A staff gallery
A staff list can really help introduce new parents to key staff as well as remind them of any names they may have forgotten! Even better why not add a staff gallery? If you have a Greenhouse website you can use the staff gallery builder in your CMS to add photos, names and other key information.
We hope those ideas have given some inspiration, but there are many more ideas you could use too. The most important thing is to think about what subjects new parents most often phone the school office about. If you cover those things at least then you can be sure that no parent is left worrying about the school start due to not being able to get hold of any staff to ask in the summer holidays.