A shop window
If you haven’t arranged it already a dedicated page on your school’s website is an important marketing tool for your parent, friends association or council. Think of it as your shop window especially for new parents. But remember it’s just a window into your world. As the school controls its content and design you will have little opportunity to edit the content of this page on a regular basis. In this article we set out the key components you need to make this page a success from the start.
Key website page components
We did an analysis of the school community pages for the top 30 schools in the country and there were three common features that made them successful:
- Clear purpose or mission
- A description of a ‘Year In The Life’ of the school community
- A call to action
Clear purpose or mission
Tradition and school culture play a key role to help newcomers understand the purpose of your community. Without in-person contact however, these social cues are missed. Especially for parents new to the school in 2020.
Writing down your purpose and sharing that with community members is more critical than ever. The best descriptions are specific, exciting and require team work. By working together to agree your mission with key stakeholders you are also building consensus and motivation to make it happen.
Your purpose taps into that thing that all successful school communities have in common:
- being part of something bigger
- working towards a common goal
- building skills and getting better
The structure of your purpose statement
We bring together [insert who you bring together] to [what you’re going to accomplish together], so that we can [the benefits that come from being part of your school community]
We bring together parents, school staff and pupils for regular social activities, so that we can develop a trusted network of families to lean on through good and tough times.
We bring together all our school’s families for volunteering and fundraising, so that we can develop our pupils interest in social responsibility and give back to others.
We bring together families through our buddy programme, so that new families integrate quickly into our school and their new country.
We bring together parents at the school to foster a strong sense of community and raise funds to enhance the lives of the students at the school.
We bring together parents to socialise as well as raise funds for extra facilities for their sons.
We bring parents and staff together for social, educational and cultural events with aim of harnessing the skill base of the parent body.
Check out Dixie Stafford’s story on how she crafted her school’s purpose or values when she took over as Chair of the Parent Association at St Albans High School for Girls, in Hertfordshire.
Year in the Life in Your School Community
This section of your site is about inspiring your community members. It’s not just about listing various social events that you hold traditionally each year. It should work harder than that. Brainstorm with your committee to imagine the things your member will be able to do a year from now that they can’t do today. For example what:
- Have they learned from you?
- New friends have they made?
- Contributions have the made that transforms their own skills and helps to transform others?
Based on your community results and transformation:
- How many people have you helped? New parents, pupils the wider community?
- What new knowledge will your members have they didn’t have before?
- What is your fundraising target for a year from now?
Friendship and knowledge are key drivers. Your ability as an organisation to help parents get to know each other is core to cementing a sense of belonging. Opportunities for members to share knowledge deepens commitment towards your community. Examples of knowledge sharing can range to setting up non-english speaking groups, theatre groups facilitated by in-house parent experts to hosting workshops on wellbeing. January is a great time to host well being workshops!
Once you have agreed on the kind of results you want to see, ideally plan a theme for each month of your school year to paint a picture to prospective members about the year ahead.
Here is a link to an example of monthly calendar of some typical events. We recommend brainstorming double the number you want to host and then return to your purpose to see which of these best meet your criteria.
Listen to our podcast with Charlotte Bullock of Latimer Upper School who has had great success with community interest groups.
Call to Action
Commonly school website pages will have an email address for your association or council. Typically with the school’s (or your charity) domain included. And of course a link to your Classlist Community. Go to your Classlist invitation page and copy the link to your school’s community site. Here is a link if you wish to add any Classlist logos to your page.
Last week we covered welcome posts. So make sure your personalised welcome post reflects your community’s up to date purpose.