Recent Blog Updates

Tapiochre Team

Tapiochre Team

I am so pleased that we chose to come to Tapiochre for our development – your responsiveness and creativeness is perfect for our needs.

Thursday, 24 September 2015 16:00

Adding Vacancy Packs

Thursday, 24 September 2015 15:58

Working with Download Files

Thursday, 24 September 2015 15:55

Working with Tables in web pages

Thursday, 17 September 2015 23:43

The beauty of Open Source

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We like to 'bang on' about Open Source (OS). The very nature of OS software (or hardware) creates significant benefits for us and for our customers because it reduces 'time to market' for our websites and also drives cost out of the business model. Why make things from scratch if OS offers low cost but highly functional software as a way to build websites and online applications.

The basic premise of OS is that developers create software and might include software from other OS developers to generate a complete 'solution' for which they might charge a fee.

To do this, the software they use must be 'free' - not in terms of money, but in terms of access; a developer may take a code written by someone else and can modify it for his or her own purposes. The only rule is that  the modifications should be published so that others can also take advantage of the modifications if it fits their needs. In this way, Open source software can be freely used, changed, and shared (in modified or unmodified forms) by anyone. How great is that?

In day to day use, we at Tapiochre don't normally need to worry about modifying existing code - it is normally quite unnecessary! This week though we had reason to celebrate the joy of Open Source in a real world, real problem scenario.

One of the applications we use has undergone several updates over recent months and, as a result of this, one particular 'feature' was deemed no longer needed and was simply 'removed'. The problem was that we used this feature extensively!

The feature related to the ability to choose how to sort files on a webpage; A to Z, by date, ascending, descending and so on. Now, that might seem dull but, when we work with schools, it is great if we can show Newsletters sorted in descending date order (so the most recent is first in the list) and on a different page we need to show Policies in A-Z ascending order. Oddly, this option was removed and so we were only able to show files in one order, across the whole site - and that was not much fun.

So, we contacted the developer, a great chap by the name of Jan who works out of the Czech Republic. The OS comunity is a truly 'Global Village' and OS developers appreciate others taking time to help, test and prove their work - Jan is such a character. Our request was placed late one evening and within 24 hours a suggestion was provided, but we had work to do.

Jan suggested we look at an example of a different requirement that he had provided in the past and that was enough for us to emulate and adapt his recommendation, applying a patch to an XML file in the web platform to remedy the problem.

The work took under an hour, including testing and documenting and we were able to feed back to Jan and the community what our process was and what the specific changes were that we had implemented.

Giving back to the community to allow others to use our 'code insertion' for their own benefit is what Open Source is all about and it was fantastic not only to learn from the experience of others but to offer an input into the big world of 'Open' in our small way.

Others might never use our technique but if they do - and  they don't have to tell us or pay us for it - we know there will be a small part of the Joomla online webspace that is forever Tapiochre!

 

Tuesday, 21 July 2015 11:06

Do we do WordPress?

Well, there’s a good question!

As most of our websites need the levels of massive flexibility for the positioning of blocks of information on different pages and in different locations on that page, we have generally used the Joomla content management system (CMS). The fact that we often need to add a chunk of information in any position we wish on any page that we desire is so well handled by Joomla’s modular framework that it is the logical decision to use it instead of WordPress. That doesn't mean to say that WordPress is not a valid option for some blogging and medium-sized websites. In fact, we have seen some fairly significant scale corporate websites running WordPress!

Yes, we do support WordPress and we have built and adapted sites in the past which use that particular content management system. A site running WordPress is very easy to create - there are endless numbers of templates, many of which are free with even more at a very low cost - so, within a matter of an hour or two you could find yourself with a website for the most simple of situations.

Many WordPress themes are very elegant and do offer levels of flexibility in terms of visibility of content. So, if all you need is a website with the same type of information across most pages, then WordPress will probably be ideal for you. Just like Joomla, online support through services such as YouTube and Lynda.com are available in abundance and this means that you can start running your own website at administration level quite quickly.

How do we support WordPress?

Well, all of our hosting platforms, regardless of the provider that we use, always offer support for WordPress. The installation is almost automatic so the deployment of WordPress website is pretty much a case of was flicking a switch for the basic, empty, WordPress site to be up and running. Once the site is visible, it is then a matter of applying a template which fits the business in question. You can look around and find a template which you like and we can install it for you. From there, it is a case of adding pages or posts to create your blogging site or, if designed as such, website with blog features.

The additional plug-ins will give even further which experiences to your WordPress website though the compatibility of some of these plug-ins has to be tested before being installed in order to ensure you don't compromise the stability or security of your site.

WordPress, due to its huge popularity, is very easy to use but can become somewhat unwieldy if there are a large number of pages created. The menu features are pretty good in our opinion that can be confusing for the beginner; we guess that's where our support plan comes into play!
Remember that WordPress was created initially as a blogging and content driven website so if choosing WordPress is your way forward it should tell you that blogging should be one of your core reasons for doing so! It's a fantastic blogging platform, and that there is no doubt!

Why might you change to WordPress?

Well, if you are unhappy with your small  to medium sized existing blogging site and would like to switch across to a solid, dependable and well understood content management system, WordPress is probably a great place to start. If you want to manage the whole thing yourself, with no dependency at all on third-party agencies, WordPress can also be a good fit. If you want to update your website by virtue of a mobile or tablet device, WordPress is well supported in the marketplace to make that happen. These are just a few of the reasons why WordPress may be good for you.

We can’t necessarily say that it is as hugely flexible as Joomla, and it is often difficult and time-consuming to create special tools to allow widgets within the WordPress system to be displayed wherever you want them to be but WordPress does give you that fantastic first step into a website that you can look after yourself in a self-contained manner.

At the end of the day, we believe that WordPress is perhaps a little more intuitive than Joomla, but the “sophistication” and extensive development of Joomla components, plug-ins and modules allows it to be a much more versatile system for larger and more complex, demanding website.

So, yes, we do support WordPress, we love it as much as we do Joomla, and we'll be happy to help you on your journey to that destination if you need us!

Tuesday, 30 June 2015 21:12

On the naming of Governors

Today, the BBC reported that there are more changes afoot for schools in terms of reporting details about their Governors. Quoting the BBC website:

But in the government's response to the Trojan Horse report, which argued that MPs had downplayed the seriousness of the problems in Birmingham, there are now plans to gather information about governors.

"We will create a national database of school governors by toughening up requirements on schools to publish the identities of their governors," says the education department.

The details of governors published by schools should also include "details of where they serve on governing bodies of schools elsewhere".

We thought, as we have had many discussions over the past few weeks with schools about the Governors pages of their websites, it would be prudent to advise that you should think about including this in the increasing amount of 'technical' information that your school will need to plan for over the coming weeks.

Forewarned is forearmed.

For the full BBC report online, go here.

Schools often ask us if there is a prescribed set of information which has to be provided in order to be compliant with government legislation. This legislation was established in September 2012 and continues to evolve as regulatory demands change. Occasionally, local authorities will make recommendations for additional content to be shown on your school website. This is further compounded by the demands of schools within a diocesan setting. Please refer to your local setting for this guidance.

To help you, we have provided a bullet point list of the key requirements as of January 2018 As more changes arise and are brought to our attention we will update this page accordingly. Note, for technical accuracy, some of the content below is taken directly from the GOV.UK website for which we provide a link at the bottom of this page. We also outline how we help to show this information on your website.

Introduction (please read!)

We have spoken to a small number of lead OFSTED inspectors about our approach to the delivery of key and statutory information within the website. Note that Ofsted itself does not stipulate what you must publish on your website; they simply check that your school complies with the statutory expectations and that the data provided on the site is appropriate to provide a clear reflection of the school.

The feedback we have gained leads us to recommend that, where possible, all information related to the regulatory matters are shown within one page. In order to help the school and the website visitor to fully deliver all of the information, we usually provide the bullet points from the government requirements, with supportive text, in the main body of the page, a little like you will see below. We then use sidebar content to provide the evidence to substantiate the bullet points. For example, where reference is made to OFSTED, within the sidebar we provide web links to OFSTED Parent View and also the OFSTED reports website. Likewise, where reference is made to policies or school statements and reports, we provide downloadable documents in the sidebar of the page.

The only exception to this, and this is only because of the sheer amount of detail involved, is that information related to the governing body is offered on a separate page. Our conversations with the lead inspectors tell is that this is a good approach and not only shows that the school is well organised but also assists the governing body and inspectors together to provide the most up-to-date and focused information about the School.

Hardcopy delivery

  • It is a wise idea to include a statement at the top of the page to advise visitors that any information described on the page can be available as hardcopy upon request from the school.

School contact details

  • you must provide the name of your school, its postal address and the school's telephone number, together with the name of the member of staff who deals with queries from parents and other members of the community.

Tapiochre provide this information directly on the page, showing the name, address and telephone contact details of the headteacher at the school and, if requested primary contacts for SENCo, the bursar and other appropriate members of staff.

Admission arrangements

  • The school should publish their admission arrangements which explain how applications are considered for each age group across the school. If for example you have arrangements for selecting pupils, then this must be described. If you have criteria for managing oversubscription, then this must also be described. There is also a requirement to explain the process which parents should follow if they wish to apply for their child to attend your school.
  • Alternatively, if you follow a local authority process, you should publish details in the form of textual description or a web link which will direct parents to the appropriate page about the local authority's process.

The majority of schools use their local authority for the purposes of admissions management. When this is the case, Tapiochre provide a web link to the local authority admissions website within the sidebar of the page. Where schools need to provide their own admissions arrangements, either separate from the local authority or, as a supplement to the local authority's guidelines, then we also provide downloadable documents which support the admissions policy and process. These are also visible in the sidebar of the page.

OFSTED

  • If you wish to publish a copy of your school's most recent OFSTED report then you should do so on your website
  • Alternatively you should provide a working web link which will direct visitors straight to the OFSTED website where your reports are presented
  • Although it is not stated as a mandatory requirement, it is seen as helpful information to provide web links to the OFSTED Parent View and OFSTED Data Dashboard websites for your school

Tapiochre provide web links to all of the key OFSTED sites, displayed clearly on the sidebar of the page.

Performance data

  • A primary school should provide the following information
    • Information showing the percentage of pupils who achieved certain levels in reading, writing and mathematics.
    • You must also present details concerning the percentage of pupils showing an improvement by two or more levels in the same subjects between key stage one and key stage two.
    • Also show data relating to the percentage of pupils who achieved level 5 or above in reading, writing and mathematics
  • A secondary school (Key Stage 4) should provide the following information
    • percentage of pupils who achieved a C or above in GCSEs (or equivalent) in 5 or more subjects, including English and maths
    • percentage of pupils who achieved the English Baccalaureate
    • percentage of pupils who have achieved at least the minimum expected levels of progress in English and maths between KS2 and KS4

Performance Tables

  • All schools need to provide a link to the DfE school website, specifically to their own school page.

Each school chooses its own means how to display the most recent performance data relating to testing and assessment within schools. Tapiochre support this by including any textual information which the school offers so that it is displayed on the page under this heading. In addition, downloadable files which may contain significant detail about performance, in addition are website link to the Department of Education Performance Tables is usually also provided in the sidebar.

The Curriculum

  • You must publish the following information about your school’s curriculum:
    • The content of the curriculum which your school follows in each academic year, for every subject
    • With a relationship to pupils at key stage 4, a list of the courses available, including GCSEs, should be shown
    • Information should be shown how parents or other members of the public can find out more about the curriculum which your school is following. Some schools use blogs to show what the year has been studying as a good evidence base, with downloadable files relating to each term’s curriculum as an example.
    • The names of any phonics or reading schemes in use in KS1

An appropriate method for displaying this information is to use downloadable documents in the sidebar of this page. For example, if schools use curriculum map files, with one file being used for each year group, then these maps can be shown as downloadable documents in the sidebar of this page. This is becoming a common approach and allows visitors to understand clearly a holistic approach to support for the curriculum.

Information which is related to reading and phonic schemes within key stage one is often found within the body of the page as clear text.

Policies and Documentation

  • Although you may wish to do so in a different format, our experience is that provision of downloadable documents for the key policies and other reports is satisfactory for the purposes of the regulatory requirement and OFSTED. As such, the following are the policies and other documents which are required to be shown within your website:

Behaviour policy

  • Some schools may call this the Discipline policy and they also include the Anti-bullying policy in this category.

Charging and Remissions policy

  • Provide a copy of this policy

Equality Policy

  • Provide a copy of this policy

Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) information

  • This includes your school policy addressing SEND which may include the SEND Local Offer or this Local Offer information may be provided by a separate document. Some schools follow the Local Offer devised by their local authority. If this is the case then a web link to the local authority webpage for the Local offer should be provided.

PE and Sport Premium for Primary Schools

  • If your school receives PE and Sport Premium Funding, then you must publish details of how your school spends this funding and the effect that it has on pupils as far as PE and sport participation and attainment is involved. Essentially, this document will describe the amount of funding you allocated in a school year and will show how it was spent and the impact it had in terms of improvement for the children for whom they funding is allocated.

Pupil Premium & Year 7 Literacy and Numeracy Catchup Funding

  • Schools must publish details of how the school spends its pupil premium funding and the impact which it has had on the attainment of the pupils who attract the funding.
  • If your school receives year 7 literacy and numeracy catch-up premium funding, you must publish details of how your school spends this funding and the effect this has had on the attainment of the pupils who attract it.

Childcare information

  • If your school runs childcare provision, for example a Nursery, a Holiday Club, a before or after school provision, then information should be provided to describe what the provision is, how it is run and managed.

Any policies, reports, statements and other associated documentation, often extending beyond the boundaries set by these top level regulator requirements, are generally frown on the sidebar of the page. Examples of documentation which is found here include; Safeguarding policy, British Values statements, Inclusion information, Radicalisation policy and other key documents which the school feels is relevant and necessary to provide.

Governance

  • Schools must provide information about the Governing Body. For each member of the governing body, the following information should be provided:
    • Governor’s name
    • The category of Governor to which they belong
    • Which body appointed the Governor
    • The term of office of the Governor
    • The committee(s) upon which the Governor serves
    • Details of any position of responsibility which the Governor holds, for example Chair, Vice Chair, Chair of committee and so on.
    • This same information is required for any associate member of the Governing Body and should also show their voting rights.
    • A detail register of Governors’ interests.These can extend from financial interests in the school out to relationships that the governor has with members of the school itself or other schools.
    • A register of attendance must be provided showing the meetings which are being held and the attendance percentage (or other information) for each governor related to each appropriate meeting.

The detail and extent of information required in this section has increased significantly since it was initially mandated. In addition, it has become necessary to show the information in plain text on the page rather than as a downloadable series of information files about the governing body, its functions and associated data. This has resulted in Tapiochre taking the approach to dedicate a page to the governing body. The information needed is tabulated so that all aspects of the governing body is provided to clearly in one place. A link to the governing body page is provided within this section to allow the visitor to quickly reach that information.

Values and Ethos

  • Your school should provide statement which describes the ethos of your school and values to which it adheres.

Tapiochre normally extract the statements required from the school prospectus and include them in the body of the page here in plain text.

Summary

These are the top level regulatory requirements. Schools should note that simply having this information available on the website does not release them from their duty to provide hardcopies the same information, at no charge, to parents who so request it.

For the most recent information on the GOV.UK website, please follow this link.

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