Using blogs to engage parents

Often schools struggle to communicate and engage with the parents of their pupils and the wider community. We have found that blogging has an amazing potential for improving communication and engagement without too much extra work. Most blogging tools will interact with other social media such as Facebook and Twitter so it is relatively easy to write a blog post that is then automatically posted onto social media. Here are some examples:

  • If your website allows you to blog then why not use it to communicate the latest school news – the meetings about to happen, the ones that have just happened, the latest football or netball match reports (perhaps written by your pupil reporters), that amazing Ofsted report, job vacancies, new staff, etc. The list is almost endless but by making a news blog your community will be able to see what happens in your school, prospective parents and staff will be able to get a better feel of the amazing things that happen and you will have a fantastic record of your achievements.
  • Why not have an “ACE Work” blog to celebrate all the amazing achievements of your pupils (and maybe your staff!)
  • Class blogs are a superb way of sharing what is happening in that small community of the classroom and encourages engagement between pupils, teacher, parents, community and even the world. Teachers can celebrate the work of their pupils, pupil and parents can add their comments (moderated of course), homework can be set, blogs can be used as a creative medium for pupils eg story writing, reporting on news, etc. Schools can join together and comment on each others blog posts (a great example of this is “quad blogging“). By providing the world as an audience pupils can become more enthusiastic about their creative skills.
  • Blogs for clubs or subjects. I have run blogs for computing clubs for many years and this has given pupils an opportunity to show off their computing skills and has also been an interesting record of their progress. I have also set up blogs to share school weather station data making records of the weather available to other people all over the world. Weather data provides a huge opportunity for developing data handling skills.

By sharing the news of your school, your achievements and the amazing work that your pupils do you can engage so much more with your pupils, parents and community. There are lots of blogging sites and blogging tools available, some free, some that involve payment, some that are very public and some where you have lots of control. If you would like advice, help in setting up blogging in your school or training then do contact me.

Embed YouTube videos in WordPress – remove related videos

If you upload videos to YouTube before embedding them in your WordPress blog you may want to remove the related videos that display automatically when you get to the end of the video. This can be done by typing ?rel=0 directly after the URL eg

Blogging from an iPad

I regularly use an iPad to blog, both for my own blogs and for blogs with teachers and pupils. I also use Windows Live Writer on a PC, and web browsers on both PCs and Apples. As I mostly use blogs based on WordPress I use the WordPress app on the iPad. Since it was updated to the latest version it has become my choice method of blogging, it is so easy! Words, photos and videos can so easily published, it is often a case of point, click, type a few words and then press “Publish”.

There are occasions where I want to do something a little more clever, like position a picture so that text flows around it, then I have to resort to a browser or Liver Writer, but usually the iPad app does the business.

Once published, it is very easy to see any comments that are made relating to a post and to moderate them. It is also quite easy to view statistics relating to visitors to the blog if Jet Pack is configured on the blog.
The outcome? Teaching staff with iPads are able to publish their students work with very little effort increasing their audience, their motivation and involving their parents and relatives in their learning process.

It’s free as well, making it a win, win, win app for me!

Statutory Requirements for School Websites

You are probably aware that the websites of maintained schools now have new statutory requirements applied to them to bring them in line with academies and free schools (for once it seems that the same rules apply to everyone!) Details are on the government website but here is a summary of the information you need to have on your website:

  • Contact details
  • Admission arrangements or where they may be found
  • Link to Ofsted Report
  • Most recent KS2 or KS4 results
  • Your school performance tables or a link to them on
  • School curriculum information
  • Behaviour policy
  • Current Pupil Premium allocation, it’s use and impact on attainment
  • SEN policy
  • Charging and remissions policy
  • School’s ethos and values

It is the governing body that has the responsibility for this information to be made available via the school or other website, that parents can have access to it via a website or via a free paper copy (on request) and that it is kept up to date.

If you would like help at all in including this information on your website, or you would like to develop or redevelop your website then do contact me to see how I may be able to help you.


Storybird is a brilliant collaborative story telling tool. The site has loads of artwork which you can use to tell stories and make a book. The book can then be published online and embedded into your website (see Captain Peregrine’s Big Discovery below). There are already loads of stories on the Storybird website and there are other sites that use stories embedded in them including stories in foreign languages. As part of a literacy campaign in your school why not put a different story on your website class pages each week?

Teachers can also set up class accounts which are private areas for their pupils to collaborate on work or to complete assignments set by the teacher.

And if you have the money you can have your books printed out!

n.b.In writing this post I ran into problems embedding the story into I have embedded stories into a number of websites and VLEs but couldn’t do it here. Then I found the following text:
"Currently, Storybird embeds work on Blogger, Typepad, (self-hosted), Tumblr, Ning, and most other platforms that accept standard HTML. They do not work on blogs yet."
Hopefully this will come shortly! Meantime, I’m afraid you will have to click on the image of the book.



Storybird have their own blog and are also developing a Storybird app for the iPad.