Peace of mind and a professional approach

The Education (School Information) (England) Regulations 2002 Statutory Instrument 2002 No. 2897 was amended in September 2012 whereby schools could now publish their school prospectus on the school website. But the legislation still retains the basic criteria and many schools are missing an opportunity to promote to best effect.

The legislation and guidance provides all schools with an opportunity to produce their Governors Annual Report with a School Prospectus. The prospectus must be published during the school year immediately preceding the admissions school year. So the Prospectus published in 2013/ 2014 will be for the admissions in 2014/ 2015, and at least six weeks before the final date by which parents are asked to apply for admission to the school or to express a preference for a place. Primary schools can publish a prospectus at any time in the school year.

The Guidance, outlined a list of 13 must contain elements. These range from publishing the school name, address telephone numbers, pupil absence, assessment results and the provision for special needs to a summary of national examination results and the destinations of school leavers. Much of the summary information can be produced as inserts to a broader prospectus document.
So the first impression many parents get of a proposed school for their children is through the prospectus. The publication will also influence the views and confidence of the current parents group.

There is a clear opportunity to present the unique aspects of the school. This is applies to the state school more than ever - Special Educational Status, a national curriculum and often being at the heart or an integral part of a local community, or even having national recognition. For the independent, academic performance is often a prerequisite.

A headteacher of a school in an inner city catchment when canvassed at the Bett Exhibition in London commented that he neither had the budget or the requirement for a fancy prospectus. Maybe he needed a wider vision? Here was an opportunity to address much of the negativity that exists simply because academic achievement is often not the only function of education. There is an opportunity to extend beyond existing and prospective parents into the local environs, and project the school as an integral part of the community. It does not change the fact that the school is the local supplier of the National Curriculum, but that it has other expertise with children and young adults; pastoral support, childcare, community and continuing education, social and recreational activities and youth development.

The aforementioned Head was asked if he had an Alumni register or Association? His answer was telegraphed, “What would we want with that.” Indeed what - rhetorically speaking? Wouldn't it be good for the school to know that to some of its pupils may have been given the vision they needed to make their lives a success?

It used to be Friends Reunited but now Facebook is taking over and no doubt this headteacher was unaware that his school had achieved much to nurturing friendships, creating relationships and families who's children would also perhaps pass through the school. No doubt there was probably the odd academic success too but perhaps infrequent nevertheless noteworthy. A prospectus can reflect all of this.

One of the big questions Headteachers are asking is "Should we move into the age of Social Media and have a school Twitter and Facebook page?" Overall it has to be a good thing and demonstrate how to do it responsibly.

It is the function of the Prospectus to communicate the ethos of the school not necessarily its establishment however grand the architecture. Certainly to have an illustrious heritage, benefactor or founding father helps maintain some traditional values but the real value is in the current pupil and staff interrelationships - nurturing talent and instilling values, for example.



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