Recent Blog Updates

Tapiochre Team

Tapiochre Team

Tuesday, 12 May 2015 11:08

What's a decent school blog page like?

I am often asked this question when primary schools start blogging. Essentially, the question stems from a fear of the unknown but experience has shown that teachers make excellent bloggers and there is a good reason for this. Teachers know what is happening in their classrooms, better than anyone else.

If only we were to sit down with a teacher and ask them to describe what's been happening in their class today, this week, this term, we all know that they could fill a book with the marvellous activities and experiences that the children have engaged with. This book would be complemented by a scattering of photographs, and if we're lucky, some video as well.

So if you were able to capture the essence of that conversation in text, then that's what the blog would be. It would be a story; it would articulate some of the fabulous, funny and entertaining ways that the children have absorbed the curriculum over the past few days or weeks. Evidence of this would be provided by one or two photographs or maybe a gallery of images. When you look at it this way, it's relatively easy.

Sunday, 14 September 2014 11:07

Shellshock bug and your Website

25th September 2014

This past week has seen much important news concerning a bug termed "Shellshock" that affects a massive number of web sites around the world, including those that we provide for schools and businesses. Spme security experts have warned that it is significantly worse than Heartbleed, a different web vulnerability which caused huge panic this year because Shellshock theoretically allows attackers to take over websites remotely.

Monday, 06 January 2014 10:06

Social Networks - thoughts for Schools

If I had a pound for every head teacher who said they were worried about using the leading social media platforms "Twitter" and "Facebook" I think I would have £45.00, or perhaps more. The main fears are that, let's call them, 'certain users' will take advantage of the ability to publically post comments as a way to complain or, even worse, be abusive or threatening toward the school or its staff. From experience, such behaviour is rare but when it does happen the implications for the school can be significant, calling up all manner of policies like complaints, greivances, acceptable use,  safeguarding and more.

Saturday, 15 November 2014 10:05

The fastest Google result ever?

Something rather amazing happened today. As a website development business we talk about Google and the importance of good content, reciprocal web links and other strong SEO aspects, all in the hope that if they are all done well will result in good rankings in a short timescale.

One approach that everyone has known about since the Ark has been that it can be of great benefit if the site domain name is, or includes the customer business name, forming part of a business' SEO  model. In this way, the domain itself is a keyword phrase, if you know what I mean.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013 10:04

Ditch paper-based newsletters? Surely not?

Since the emergence of wordprocessing and desktop publishing, schools have sent out newsletters in Microsoft Word or Publisher to parents in hardcopy or electronically. And the timing of those newsletters differs from weekly to once per term, so we often get quite a varied response when we ask how these schools deal with the newsletter problem.

On the other side of the technology circle, it’s really interesting to meet schools who are looking at (or are already) doing away with the old concept of print and email for newsletters, preferring to ditch that old model for one that encompasses blogging. Blogs are great for schools in so many ways; they allow the author to express themselves just as they might in a newsletter, but more importantly the blog allows readers to respond with comments. These are, clearly, an area that schools have to manage – no one likes to have unsavoury comments visible on their blog page – and as such levels of moderation need to be integrated into the policy of blog management. So, is there a halfway house?

Thursday, 18 June 2015 10:03

Forward thinking Marketing

With over 20 years in industry we have learned how to embed successful. 'big business ideas' into everything we do, no matter how large your own business or educational setting may be.

We work with you to help you think ahead about how your school or business needs to change; it is a great way for us to model how marketing might help. To do that we actively listen to the problems that you have experienced, we talk with you about what you actually want to be and we discuss ways to apply logical answers to directly respond to your issues.  Many of our answers will relate to better ue of technology and organisations like yours like to know that there are a wealth of applications and tools that they can access which will help solve some of the communications problems that might exist. Ok, we don't do phones and mobiles, but we do do web technology rather well.

Sound Interesting? Call us now - 07958 726700

Translating Problems into Benefits for Schools and Businesses - 'IT works'.

Our job is to translate your 'business problems' into a number of 'business benefits' to help you to evolve in how you communicate with customers, suppliers and your own staff.

Schools and small businesses in particular often lack the marketing background needed to promote themselves and so Tapiochre have been on hand with ideas and experience to make things happen, quickly, effectively and on budget. Although the principles apply equally to high street businesses, our real passion in education, teaching and  learning, combined with our wish to share our expertise is where so many have benefited to date.

We have real experience of how a school runs (the boss was a Chair of Governors of a Primary School) and we appreciate the fact that schools have precious time to allocate to 'marketing' and often have very little in terms of funds. To respond to that we work with you to provide quick and easy ways to help you communicate, collaborate and grow your relationships with the stakeholders for your school or business.

 What You can Do... Why they do it..
Look at who your audience really is... ...to plan for the right types of information for each stakeholder by breaking them down into different gruops or categories. In schools, Parental Engagement is high on the agenda and understanding who they are and what they feel is vital to a school's success.
Run Parent/Governor/Staff/Pupil/Community/Customer Focus Group Sessions... ...to find out what each stakeholder group explicitly needs and to discover the common ground across the different groups.
Assess Focus Group feedback to realign the initial plans... ...to be sure that what the you actually deliver meets the expectation of the audience and ties in properly to the overall school or business development plan.
Consider breaking up the audience into more granular target groups...

...to help focus clearly on the communication that each specific audience sector will need rather than taking a blunderbuss approach which often misses the target as it is too broad.

Promote 'Success Stories', which describe what is so good about this school or company... ...as this can help influence prospective parents/clients that 'this is a great school for my child - I would be happy for my child to be here' or 'this is a business that appeals to me'.
 Hold 'Open Day' events or Business Seminars... ..to show you mean business and can prove that you are able to deliver what you say. In a school, meeting with teachers and support staff and creating a setting where parents and staff can share ideas and opinions in a friendly and open environment is healthy marketing Also a great way to talk about and show 'what's new' and gather even more useful feedback. Likewise, a business seminar at a local hotel which communicates specifically about the topics raised in the Focus Group input is a sure way to gain traction.
Use the same modes of communication as your audience... ...forward thinking schools and businesses realise that no amount of pushing or shoving can force a parent or client to visit a website. But, if businesses and schools exploit the massive reach of Facebook or Twitter, then there is no need to push. A school or business Facebook page or Twitter feed can pull in followers who will see what is happening without having to go looking or asking.
Put more and more information on their websites... ...as the audience move to smartphones, tablets and laptops, they become more at ease accessing online content and the website becomes a highly bookmarkable destination containing diary dates, downloadable forms, newsletters, termly curriculum information and many other aspects of useful content. In business, product catalogues, sales blogs and lively discussion arenas can make a difference in how the business is seen by its clients,
Create and use blogs extensively... ...blogs are a great and easy way  to keep your audience up to date on what's happening in school and business. The even better thing for schools is to gain feedback (moderated of course). This often starts with a select group of children but quickly develops into a community space where staff, children and parents all join in the conversation. In a commercial setting, blogs are about opinion, news updates and challenging the clients visitor to think about your comments in terms of buying your services or products.
 Employ Video... Schools are becoming au fait with video recording and editing techniques and they find it is a perfect way to show off the great teaching and learning practices. Embedding video into blogs and web pages as video galleries is just another way to communicate with the audience. Video Testimonial is equally powerful for business. What better way to prove you can do what you say by getting a customer to say it for you!
Thursday, 18 June 2015 10:01

Search Engineering

What about Google?

The content of your website is king but the art of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is also crucial to the success of any website.

At Tapiochre, we have become really quite good at SEO - we often find that with our help your website can become very popular and very quickly. Of course there are no guarantees - SEO is an art, not a science - but, done well and diligently, we ususally see improvements in a website's Google ranking in just a few weeks. Done properly, using the right techniques, we have experience of seeing sites go from zero (i.e. a new site) to page one in a matter of days. Why wouldn't you want that to happen?

Most schools want their website to rate highly, so our job is to get the right information to help that happen - and at no additional cost! We know from experience that there are SEO companies who will ask for your cash and give you great ratings for a day or maybe two, but just as soon as your site gets to page one, it simply disappears!  To stay at the top is where you could end up spending way too much. This 'Pay Per Click' technique may work for some but Tapiochre don't advocate it, and certainly not for schools. Our ethos is, 'if you cannot get your website highly ranked by good content and links and hits alone, don't spend money... spend time!'

So, if you get a call from a company saying  that, for between £100 and £200 they can get you to page one of Google - they may even say they are Google - tell them politely that you do not need their services! Talk to Tapiochre instead.

Sound Interesting? Call us now - 07958 726700

Thursday, 18 June 2015 10:00

Website Services for Schools

A clean and informative website is a great way to help your visitors understand what your school can offer. Mind you, having a great looking web site is only part of the journey!

Keep your website updated with great news and it will reward you well to become a centre of attraction for your school community.

And now your website can be all you need to make your school email marketing experience more meaningful and cost effective. Why not let your site provide you with everything you need to make a simple, efficient and productive newsletter that will transform your website into a marketing machine and extend your communications more simply to parents and the community?

What might you want from a website for your school?

Thinking about what your school needs? Let's help you....

From experience we find a number of common threads, they are...

  • attractive and easy to navigate
  • one which the children and staff can be proud of
  • decorated tastefully with images, video, audio as well as text content
  • able to support links to other systems if needed, both educational and social, such as Mathletics, VLEs, Twitter, Facebook etc.
  • full of relevant and up to date information
  • a reflection of the ethos and values of the school
  • easy for staff (and others) to use
  • able to provide two-way communications with children, parents and the community
  • capable of allowing key stakeholders to log in and store data in a secure way.
  • is easy to find on Google and can report on usage (statistics)
  • low cost to start up and low cost to run and maintain
  • not dependent on proprietary software or expensive licences
  • compliant with recent regulations.

 With Tapiochre you will be working with a small but efficient agency which ticks all of these boxes. Oh, and probably a bunch more boxes that you can think of! We are proud of what we do and we just love working with schools!

Sound Interesting? Call us now - 07958 726700

 

Thursday, 18 June 2015 10:02

EduKeep - School Group Websites

For many years, schools have worked together in 'Clusters' - groups of geographically aligned schools, working together to achieve strategic and tactical objectives.

And as more schools in the UK move toward a direct financing model, resulting from conversion to Academy (and other) status, many will need to start being smarter in how they collaborate and share key information and resources, to get best benefit from everthing they have and know.

Tapiochre now offer EduKeep, which provides 'cluster' or group websites  to schools to help staff in those schools to share ideas, discussions and documents, calendars and general resources with each other in a timely and secure manner.

Sound Interesting? Call us now - 07958 726700

We only use 'familiar technology', so it's easy to use

Rather than re-invent the wheel, Tapiochre use Open Source web technology and applications in the form of Joomla! which allows us to keep the build cost at ZERO and the support/subscription fees at a low figure per year per school. Using Joomla! means every EduKeep site will be quick and simple to update and will use the same technology as virtually all web sites that Tapiochre have built for schools to date. It also means that staff can benefit from the use of free apps that run on both Apple and Android devices so they can work with their EduKeep site while away from the school setting by using there smart device or tablet.

What can EduKeep Offer

In general, all education content will be found behind a secure login (hence the name EduKeep), but it doesn’t have to be. Schools can elect to have parts or all of their cluster data publically accessible with no need for a username or password. Most schools however are predicted to want to make those documents and datasets secure and so one login per school is provided. The EduKeep platform model will hold the following useful and easy to access areas:

so anytime there is a need to send an email to the team members, it can be sent to one account and EduKeep will automatically forward it to the team (using school or private email addresses).

EduKeep Key Features and Benefits

 Feature
Main benefits of EduKeep for teaching staff
School Group Event Calendar Save time by sharing event information in once place rather than emailing dates and location information
School Group Event Registration Time and efficiency savings can be made with EduKeep as staff can now see who is planning to attend and how many 'slots' are available so events can be held at the most suitable venue based on headcount and room space.
 Blogs Will foster better relationships between dispersed members of staff in a group environment. Audio and video may be embedded into the blog to allow for simplification of more complex topics.
Technology How-To Guides

EduKeep is a time saver for staff who have little opportunity to learn first hand how to apply new technology in a classroom setting - they can now access online guides (documents and or video) to help speed up the learning process.

 Discussion Forums Teachers and managers can make physical meetings more efficient when ideas and questions are handled in advance of those meetings and the fear of asking the 'silly' question is easily overcome. 
 Forum Moderation Sensitive questions and responses can be taken offline to be discussed in more appropriate face go face environments. They are not published.
Unlimited Forum Topics There are no restrictions on space for schools with EduKeep so groups can discuss as much as needed to reach their objectives.
Staff Resource Libraries  Efficiency and productivity increases can arise when 'everything you need' is in one easy to reach location, no matter where you are.
Categorisation of Files and Folders This is all about simplicity and security. Not only will this feature make it easy to understand 'where' a document is on the system, it also allows schools to make specific categories only accessible to specific groups of users
Storage of Templates Efficiency can be improved when a standard set of templates exist for the group of schools to add to or use. Tapiochre plan to create boilerplate documents for general use on all systems so you don't have to spend your valuable time doing it yourself.
Office Libraries  View MS Office documents from within the website (uses Google Docs Viewer) saving time and effort if all you need is to share a document or presentation with colleagues.
Shared Weblinks Get access quickly to the best website resources to support teaching and learning, all within a single point of reference. Adding new links is a snip and the whole group can benefit immediately.
Online Contact List Save time tracking down the mobile number of a key group member; the details of each person in the team can be shown securely on EduKeep,  so it never goes public.
Email Forwarding Improve communication with a group of users. Each school is allocated an EduKeep email address [e.g This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]
Open up EduKeep for Pupils Enhance Extended Learning by making parts of your EduKeep site more 'open' (no login), offering a centralised resource bank for pupils and students.  EduKeep can become an information portal to aid home learning and research.

As schools evolve to become independent of Local Authority controls, we expect there will be a growing bond between schools, so they can be mutually supportive in many different ways.

Interested?

Call Us Now for more Information - 07958 726700

Thursday, 18 June 2015 09:59

Our Approach

Two ears and one mouth - a ratio that is key to our success. We listen a lot more than we talk which is good for you. The more you talk, explaining your problems, ambitions and direction, the better equipped we will be to help you. Once we have that background, we listen to you some more - there is always more to a story than the initial facts!

Only when we believe that we have as much as we can acquire from you are we in a position to see if we can help. We're not afraid to say "no"; if we can't help, we'll say so and if there are things we need more help on, we'll tell you.

Either way, we try to provide what you need and you'll get it from a consultancy that understands more about you than you might have initially expected.

So why not carry on doing what you do best while we work on the other matters for you behind the scenes - it's what we do best!

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READY TO MAKE YOUR WEBSITE SOMETHING TO BE PROUD OF?

CALL US NOW!

07958 726700