Web wonders

20th April 2007 at 01:00
Gerald Haigh with help for schools to go online

The best school websites provide channels between school, community, families and professional partners. The trouble is, there are still some schools that don't have one. Or (even worse), they have one that's out of date, non-compliant with web accessibility principles, or badly designed, or all of these.

The problem, invariably, is that someone started the website, but is either no longer at the school or has run out of the necessary time, skill or interest. One answer is to get an outside provider to design and maintain your site, and one that's attracting interest is EYE Focused (www.eyefocused.co.uk), a small team that builds sites that schools can maintain and edit with whatever level of support needed.

The sites are neat and easy to use, with children's work, notices, Ofsted reports, and news: as much information and interactivity as the school needs. Though there is a family feel, they're all individual.

The full package includes a free link to the fundraising website, www.Funds4Schools.co.uk. This is effectively a three-way deal between parent, school and retailers: buy something online from a participating store, and a donation goes straight from the retailer to the school. The package costs pound;2,495, plus an annual fee of pound;500 after the first year. The product is eligible for e-learning credits, and there are staged payment schemes.

Another fundraising site worth visiting is www.justgiving.com, which posts the story and pictures of your school's fundraising projects on its own site on your behalf. Visitors (both your supporters who you've told about it, and the wider public) can donate by clicking on the page.

The company handles the payments and, importantly, the Gift Aid tax repayment, which increases each donation by 28 per cent if you're a charity. In return, it takes a cut of 5 per cent.

Most of the schools listed on Justgiving.com are independent but there are some state school PTAs and friends' organisations. Sue Davidson, head of The Gattons Infant School, a state school in Burgess Hill, West Sussex, says both the Friends of Gattons School and an individual parent doing a sponsored cycle ride have done well from the website

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