School Publications

A school will have a variety of publications that you can access to find out about the school.

  • All school publications should have a consistent finish. For example, they should all feature a school logo, and all letters should adhere to a standard format. If presentation is sloppy and inconsistent then this could suggest a lack of attention to detail or pride and is a cause for concern.
  • A school’s publications should not contain errors. It is a cause for concern if a communication contains spelling or grammatical mistakes.
  • All communications should be accessible to the school’s cohort. Therefore, if a number of languages are spoken at home by its students, key communications should be issued in translation.
  • A school should have all its publications readily available for the public. If you phone and ask how to access the latest newsletter this should be no trouble.
  • A school should have a planned communication strategy. It should not be common practice for unplanned letters to be sent last minute. If replies are required, appropriate return times should be given. Publications should not send out conflicting information.
  •  A constantly updated and accessible school diary of events should be available.
  • It is a good sign if a school has a publication which has substantial input from students, for example, a school magazine or year book. This demonstrates that the student voice is valued, that a variety of extra-curricular activities are available, and that students’ communication skills are stretched.
  • A year book can foster a sense of community and tradition. It cultivates an audience who feel part of the institution and it can strengthen a school’s sense of identity. It can create a history for the school as volumes build up and ex students keep their year book as a memento of their time at the school.
  • A school with a specialism should demonstrate this through their publications. So an Arts and Media school might produce a sophisticated interactive publication for perspective parents.

Newsletter

It is unusual for a school not to have a newsletter of some sort with which it communicates with its parents. A good newsletter should:

  • be read by parents. It is good sign if the newsletter has inclusions which demonstrate parent engagement, for example, a parent response section.
  • be regular. Out of date news serves little purpose.
  • reflect the diversity of its student and parent readership. All abilities of students should be represented as should multi-culturalism where appropriate.
  • reflect the whole school and not focus on one subject area. A variety of subject areas, extracurricular activities and staff should feature.
  • be informative. Parents should be regularly informed of impending events and dates.
  • be entertaining and go out of its way to engage its readers with photographs, and a variety of features.
  • If the school is a specialist college, then this should be apparent in its newsletter. For example, a Techology College should have a communication with a high finish, an Arts’ College’s newsletter should feature high quality Art inputs.

Website

A website does not define a good school. However, a school website can certainly be useful in giving you more information about whether the school is the right school for your child.

  • The school should have a website
  •  In many ways a website can be interpreted in a similar way to a prospectus. In fact many schools have their prospectus available in electronic form on the website.
  • A website that is easy to access shows the school is concerned with communicating effectively with key groups, for example, parents, students, governors and the local community.
  • It is important to determine what the website is for. Is it just for show, or is it for use. Sections which are clearly actively used by staff, parents and students are a good sign. Questions to parents like ‘Need an up to date school calendar click here’ show that the website is responding directly to parental needs.
  • The website should be up to date.
  •  It is a good sign if there are areas on the website that are live and working, for example, up to date bulletin boards and diaries.
  • The level of student involvement in the site tells you a lot about the school. If the website was devised by the students themselves then that is a very good sign. Sections such as ‘student voice’which, for example, have current minutes from school councils, show the school in action and are a good sign.
  • It is a good sign if the site includes work from students.However, make sure the work is up to date.

Further Information

School Publications

Ask a school for the last four editions of its newsletter and copies of all the letters it has sent out to Year 7 in the last term.

Open Evening

Ask what input students have into the website. Ask if the school has a year book or school magazine and request a copy.

Summary




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