Dorrington Academy needed a new website, one which reflected the Ofsted Outstanding status of the school. The website would have to cater for a spectrum of visitors: from pupils and prospective parents to peers in other schools and leaders in the education sector.
We developed a content-managed solution based on WordPress which gives the school full control over their website. It’s a solid foundation on which to grow their online presence. As part of the project we also sourced photography and videography to ensure the website imagery was professional and engaging.
Who are Dorrington Academy?
Located in Perry Barr, Birmingham, Dorrington Academy has achieved unique status as the first Ofsted Outstanding rated primary academy in the country. As a progressive and diverse school, they pride themselves on providing a stimulating learning environment and a solid foundation for pupils to begin their academic careers.
With incredible facilities, including a yoga studio, climbing wall and outdoor pizza oven (we didn’t have those in our day!), and amazing school results, they’ve garnered attention from high places.
Dorrington Academy are really proud of their achievements as a school, attracting attention from other schools throughout the country looking to follow in their footsteps. The pinnacle of their achievements is being awarded an “outstanding” from Ofsted in 2019. However, you wouldn’t know it if you visited their old website. It was looking dated and the content wasn’t kept up-to-date either.
“as a business would”
Dorrington Academy approached Ballyhoo after seeing some of the work we’d done for businesses; they felt they wanted to redevelop their website as a business would, rather than how a school would typically approach such a project. That meant really thinking about marketing the school like a business, selling its achievements and promoting its many benefits for pupils and parents.
Beyond that, particularly with the coronavirus prevalent, the school wanted to be able to easily upload and share homework tasks in a secure environment for pupils to access from home. There is a lot of information that the website needs to provide, from statutory information to fun games which aid learning, so it was vital that the content was well organised and a powerful search facility was included.
Look & Feel
Dorrington Academy already had a strong brand for us to work with. And we certainly weren’t about to suggest hundreds of pupils needed to buy new uniforms because we wanted to tweak the branding!
The website needed to follow the branding closely so it remains immediately recognisable as belonging to the school. We’ve complemented their brand colours with a pastel colour palette and incorporated flourishes including a handwriting font and decorative scribbles.
We quickly identified that we really needed some professional photography to show the school in the best possible light. Fortunately, Dorrington were due to put on one of their famous shows (The Greatest Showman, no less) so we sent along one of our trusted photographers to get some shots. He later returned to photograph staff, students and the amazing facilities on hand for pupils and parents.
As well as commissioning photography of the school, we also sent along a videography partner to film the school and produce a promotional film of its people and facilities. We then took some of the best clips from the film to sit in the background on the homepage to give instant impact and immediately create a great impression of the school.
The Technical Details
This website was built on WordPress with a completely custom template built from scratch to Dorrington Academy’s exact requirements. The site was configured and developed in a temporary online environment where we could ensure it looked and functioned as desired before launch.
As you’d expect, this website is responsive, meaning we built it to give the user the best possible experience regardless of the resolution of their device. It was anticipated that many views would come from mobile so we ensured the site performed optimally across Android and iOS on various versions and browsers.
Support & Maintenance
As a platform, WordPress provides the tools needed for the school to keep their website up-to-date. But let’s face it, teachers have enough to deal with educating the next generation. As a result, we’re also providing support for the school where in addition to hosting, we keep WordPress and any plugins we’ve used up-to-date.
We’re also on hand to help add and update content in a timely manner and use our skills to make sure it’s in keeping with the style of the website.
Our contacts at the school are really proud of what’s been produced, and so are we. We feel the site really does reflect the outstanding nature of the school, exactly what the original brief was looking for.
Since launching the site, we’ve seen fantastic levels of traffic and user retention; users stay on the site and navigate through several pages before leaving indicating they’re happy to look around. Bounce rates are low too, indicating people feel confident in using the site. Outside of the data we’re collecting, we’re also hearing from the school that they are getting really positive feedback from parents too.