Anatomy of an award-winning website

A British primary school, the Woodland Grange, is Yahoo UK's Education Find of the Year for 2005. At Teaching Ideas & Resources, the school's deputy head, Richard Smyton, lays out some of the reason's for the site's success.

A British primary school, the <a href="">Woodland Grange</a>, is Yahoo UK's <a href="">Education Find of the Year for 2005</a>. At <a href="">Teaching Ideas & Resources</a>, the school's deputy head, Richard Smyton, lays out some of the reason's for the site's success. In a nutshell: It's an integral part of the entire educational process at Woodland.

There are many school websites now in existence and they take many forms, some created by professional web design companies at an expense and others purely by pupils themselves as low budget affairs. The key thing, that is a fundamental principal underpinning our site, is that it must be fresh, up to date and useful.<br><br>

Our own site has evolved over the years, since its very first appearance as a single homepage in late 1999. We built our site initially in a Computer Club with a group of keen children eager to learn a new skill with a teacher just as green. The trouble was, we quickly became hooked as the power of the medium caught our imagination.<br><br>

At that time the Internet in schools was a new thing and very few had an online presence. We attracted a lot of interest from schools overseas wanting to forge links and partake in online projects. We quickly realised that we had a global audience for the work we were doing and this fired the children and staff to look at how best to display samples of our work, but also how we could reach into the children’s homes with activities to support their learning. To encourage access for all we open our school ICT facilities to parents and children during the week.<br><br>

As time has gone on we have ‘moved with the times’ and as well as the usual documentation, work samples, photos etc that many schools put online, in late 2001 we incorporated ‘blogs’ into our website. Many sections of our site: Class pages, School Council pages, PTA pages, Headteacher’s page are all blogs to which many members of our school community publish. The nature of these mean that the content on our site remains current.<br><br>

This year we have launched a weekly ‘podcast’ radio show through our site, inspired by the media coverage of our award. The children are brimming with ideas for the show’s content and it has quickly become another showcase for the children’s work, thoughts and ideas.<br><br>

Our website is now very much at the hub of our home-school-community links. As a project to manage, the site is reasonably self-sufficient. As an ICT coordinator I give no more than an hour a week and frequently much less.<br><br>

There are many mini-contributors in the staff, children and others and the time invested in getting all on board and training them has been worthwhile. The new skills and ideas the children bring to the mix are always driving things onwards.
We look forward.