FIRST PRIZE PRIMARY
Achieving excellence is what we are working towards in everything we do and that includes the school prospectus," says Mary Williams, head of Risca primary school in Newport, Gwent, winner of the first prize for primary schools.
Having moved into a new building in 1993, "review and update school brochure" was an early priority on the school development plan.
The primary colours of the designer-cover on Risca's stylish 30-page A4, thermal-bound booklet create an immediate impression of a school taking its presentation seriously as well as its declared mission: "Achieving excellence through learning, caring and sharing together".
"We wanted it to reflect the standards we hope to achieve throughout the school," says the head who asked children in assembly recently what achieving excellence meant: "Doing the very best we can," was the answer she received.
The prospectus is not all Risca's own work. But it does reflect its outward-looking philosophy. As a result of a teacher placement in industry, a self-employed graphic designer came into the school and helped pupils design the school poster that now forms the basis for the prospectus cover and that of the matching governors' annual report. The pupils then followed this through at the colour-printing works where the poster was produced. These community links were used again when it came to designing and printing the prospectus.
The page-per-subject layout is clear and simple. Inside the cover is the head's warm but informative 300-word welcome which manages to set out the school's ethos and values, new facilities and its openness and partnership with parents in a concise and readable style. Facing it is a contents list and each of the heavy satin paper pages carries a clear heading: about the school (setting out the main aims of the curriculum from nursery to Year 6); plans of the school (floor plans and a photograph of the school's delightful courtyard); the school day (start, finish and play times with details of lunch arrangements, child safety at home time and what to do if bad weather threatens to shut the school).
Both the quality and the contents of the brochure cry out to be kept by parents. It contains practical information on uniform, illness and absence including how many days to keep your child at home for each of the most common childhood diseases. It sets out clearly how parents can contact staff if they have a problem and the arrangements for formal termly consultations and written reports.
High quality printing and materials cost money, of course. How much, Mary Williams was unable to say off hand, though she did point out that they had had sufficient numbers of the basic pages printed to last for four years and with their own binder they are able to incorporate replacement pages when updating is necessary, Risca's brochure is attractive, informative and mostly parent-friendly. It is not perfect by any means - it becomes a bit officious when it starts dealing with some of the legal requirements. But it gives the positive messages about the school it was intended to and represents an investment which could be more than repaid in parental goodwill.