The Changing Role of School Websites
The measures implemented to reduce the spread of coronavirus resulted in the need to evolve ways of working virtually overnight and schools were no exception. Many were forced to close and support pupils with home learning whilst continuing to provide education to vulnerable children and those of key workers. Teachers were left with the challenge of finding new and innovative ways to teach and communicate quickly.
As the largest supplier of school websites in the UK, PrimarySite has a deep understanding of the crucial role we provide to schools, and although we knew that websites would play a critical part in the home learning solution during the Covid-19 pandemic, we have been truly astonished by the actual uplift in use during this time.
When reviewing the website figures from the 4,600 schools PrimarySite support, we saw a staggering 132,131 new pages had been added in March to aid home learning content and enable communication between teachers and classes. During this time, blog posts also increased 20x to 17,328 with over 26,000 comments from pupils.
It has been fantastic to see how teachers are using brand new methods of communication to set work activities, send messages and keep in touch with their students and our blogging platform has become more popular than ever before.
A school website has always needed to multi-task, specifically to:
- Provide the information required for Ofsted /DfE compliance
- Provide a window to the school for prospective parents
- Communicate core information and services to current parents
Since the start of the pandemic however we have seen 6,000 new users added as editors of the website, thousands of new pages created and the blogging platform used to set work activities and send messages and updates which the children can reply to.
The blog posts we have seen have been really inspiring, including poems, descriptions of how the children are feeling, picture instructions for baking cakes, discussions about reading books and reasons to smile – the list is endless. Click here to view some of the creative ways our blogging platform has been used during this time.
Video has long been a popular form of communication and always well engaged with by children and yet again we have seen huge increases in the use of our Video Resource Centre. 3x as many schools used this feature in March compared to previous months and 7x as many videos were added.
We have loved seeing the videos and they have been so varied. From school mascots like Minty the sheep talking through school values, Headteachers bouncing on trampolines to set physical challenges to heart-warming messages from school teams, we have seen huge increases in teachers finding new ways to bring the curriculum to life.
All the extra activity did put pressure on our servers, and we increased capacity 15x to accommodate the peak editing times. For us, however, this is further testimony to just how hard all school staff are working to support their pupil and they continue to inspire, care for, and educate their classes.
Parents too have stepped up to support children at home and play a larger role in their children’s education, potentially partnering more heavily with the school than ever before.
The question remains of how many of the new “norms” developed in these unusual times will continue now many schools have started to reopen.
- Will homework be set electronically, saving paper further?
- Will blogging and vlogging play a much bigger role, both in the classroom and to regularly update parents?
- Will video have become a more inspiring and fun way to communicate and be used daily for celebration or to provide details of how to approach tasks and for children to bring their curriculum to life?
- Will parents wish to continue their active role in helping their children learn, requesting perhaps, more online materials?
One thing we do know is that we look forward to being part of the solution in the months and years to come and delivering new and innovative technology to support schools and trusts’ unique needs.
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