Making my school website ‘legal’

One of the many hats I wear is school website developer. It’s been a bit of a hobby really. The hobby started like this:

Some time ago I had a really gifted student in my Year 6 children and I had literally run out of curriculum to teach her. So I said, in about March of the year, “go off and learn HTML so we can make a school website.” A week later she came back with a basic school website and I was so shamed by the quality of it, I decided I should learn a bit of HTML too.

Things have come full circle now in a way. Having gone through three different iterations I found that the website has got bigger and bigger and more difficult for me to manage. Mercifully the afore-mentioned student came back, now at secondary school and looking for a bit of work that wasn’t just a paper-round. She now spends 2 hours a week updating our school website and me, it was a hat I could stop wearing.

Or so I thought.

A few months ago a tweet from Kevin Maclauchlan made me aware that some changes in legislation were coming about. No longer could school websites be the hobby of some enthusiastic tech geek like myself, but they had to contain certain information. Very specific information in fact. You can read it for yourself at the UK Government’s legislation website.

So we get to work. I say ‘we’ because it was very much a joint effort between myself and my ‘web developer’. She did all the design work and all the other work. I wrote her some emails. Mainly.

And this is what we came up with.

It’s not much, but it is a start – something to build on over the next few months. I realise that there are things to improve, but at least we’ve got a platform from which to improve them.

I’d very much value any comments on this blog about this school website legislation, especially if you’ve seen any fantastic examples that already contain all the information specified in the new legislation.


The Purpose of Education is Hope

Contributing to this year’s Purpos/ed 500 word campaign.

Education is how a society maintains and improves itself. Yet, while education is a relatively straightforward process, that very definition causes problems for discussing its purpose. Depending on whether you have a traditionalist or a progressive perspective, you will either place more emphasis on educating for the maintenance of past standards or educating for a brighter future. Add that to the various cultures, sub-cultures and expectations that exist within a modern multi-cultural society and there exists a vast complexity of purposes for education.

That’s my cap-doffing to the broader debate.

In my own setting there are roughly three groups that we educate, each with their own perceptions on what education is for:

  1. Education for success – these families believe that the school system will give their children opportunities. Despite limited success at higher education themselves, they want that for their children.
  2. Education for happiness – these families just want their children to be happy. Often with negative experiences of their own time at school, they want their children to feel safe and content within school. Success is often linked with celebrity and being able to get the latest DVD before it is out at the cinema.
  3. Education for hardship – these families want their children to be able to survive. They tell their children “if someone hits you, hit back harder”. They often see school as that annoying place that phones the social worker too often. Sometimes there is illiteracy in the family.

While each of these groups have radically different expectations of society, and therefore the purpose of education, they do have one thing in common – they all need hope.

I am aware that for some, the word ‘hope’ has negative connotations. They think of ‘hopes dashed’ and this leads them to regret. However this is not ‘hope’ as in the aspirations you may have had, but the Hope that things can be better, or at least as good as they once were.

So how does this translate into teaching? The obvious answer is to start a new core subject of the National Curriculum and start running ‘Hope classes’. I’m joking.

Group 1 –  they need so much knowledge at the end of primary school that they can fly into secondary school and perhaps become the first in their families to go to university. Good teaching helps these children love their learning.

Group 2 – good teaching again leads to happiness. The families are surprised at how their child can be both happy and doing well in reading, writing and mathematics. They start to believe that maybe their child can learn enough at primary not just to ‘get through’ secondary school, but to do well there.

Group 3 – good teaching brings success for the child. The family is (in the main) proud of this success and begins to gain a faith in a previously-despised school system.

In each of these groups good teaching produces hope. Hope that things can be better than they were.

So, when I’m stuck I remember: bring Hope – teach well.

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