What are the advantages of having a school website?
- Accessibility – your information is readily available to past, present and prospective parents, as well as other members of the school community, such as staff and governors.
- A school website can be a showcase for your pupils’ work and is a great motivator for the children themselves. Many parents are unable to come in to school to see their children’s work – this way, children can celebrate their work with their parents, grandparents and friends!
- Posting copies of your newsletters and details of any forthcoming events on the Internet can not only relieve the school office from pleas for replacements, but can also inform and involve the local community.
- Your website can raise the profile of your school immensely – locally, nationally and even internationally!
- You can involve children and parents in learning together at home with a range of interactive activities especially written for your web site.
How do I create my presence on the Internet?
Well, that depends really on two factors – time and money! You could approach your ICT Co-ordinator or another member of staff to do the job for you. In this case, you will be asking for an unlimited amount of goodwill and dedication from someone who, in all probability, is already working flat-out to fulfil their teaching and subject co-ordinator’s commitments, whilst trying to have at least a couple of hours a night to spend with their families and do “other things”! I know from personal experience that this is well nigh impossible. If no-one at school has the time or the inclination, you will need to consider paying someone to do all the work for you.
How much will it cost to create a website ourselves?
If you have a member of staff who is willing to create the website, you will need to consider the cost of software and training. You will also need to consult with your staff member about the amount of time you are asking him or her to devote to building and maintaining the site. If you are going to give some release time, you will need to add the cost of supply cover to your web site budget. The time required to create the Cwmbach Junior School Website at the date of its launch was in excess of a hundred hours. Does your staff member really have that amount of time to give to create your school site? Most of all, is it fair to ask your staff member to give this amount of unpaid time in addition to the time he or she already gives to the school?
It cost West Borough School in the region of £1,000 to build their site. This figure included a good web authoring software package (Dreamweaver 4), a graphics package (PaintShop Pro 7) INSET by the LEA and supply cover for the courses taken. You will need to take into acount Webhosting. This is often free when provided by your LEA, or check out my own Webhost “1&1 Webhosting” for a number of good value packages and domain services if you are not happy with your free webspace.
You can, of course, create a website for next to nothing if you have FrontPage, or Microsoft Office (Word or Publisher) and a little determination. However, the results are often not as effective.
I use Dreamweaver MX 2004 to build all my sites and provide customers with a Dreamweaver template for site maintenance should you wish to take over the site yourself on completion. If you wish to create your own site or maintain a site I build for you yourself, you will need a html editor. It doesn’t have to be Dreamweaver MX 2004, earlier versions should be perfectly compatible to take over your site from me. Schools and charities are eligible for an educational licence at a much reduced rate, either from their LEA supplier or from Macromedia. Business sites must pay the full retail price for the commercial version. Other html editors may be used but you will have to alter the template to suit the software you choose.
Dreamweaver is available in several versions with academic or commercial licences and can be bought from Macromedia direct, your LEA supplier (if a school), and Amazon to name but a few suppliers.