With the schools heading towards the summer holidays, this is traditionally the time of year we encourage all Cultural Providers to take a look at their website Directory profiles and carry out a review of the content.
A lot can change in a year, so we encourage you to review the offering you have for schools and consider making revisions. Perhaps you’ve had a change of direction in your creative practice, or maybe after running the same sessions over the past twelve months has enabled you to streamline your workshops. What do you want to be offering in the new academic year?
With funding secured for the new academic year from generous organisations such as The Harpur Trust and Wixamtree Foundation, we are delighted that more Culture Vouchers will be available in the new school year. To help you get your online profile ready for this, we’ve put together our top ten recommendations to consider when reviewing your profile…
- Know your audience
We know only too well that those working in schools are incredibly stretched and short on time. With this in mind, what are the key points that you want to convey in the first few sentences of your profile? What do you do? How long have you been doing it? What do you love about it? We recommend writing in the first person to convey a friendly and honest introduction to your practice.
- What can a teacher expect from one of your workshops?
Which Key Stage or age group do you work with? Are there any learning outcomes? What will pupils be able to accomplish by the end of the workshop? What materials and tools will they be working with? Does your workshop link up with any themes in the National Curriculum?
- Shout about any partnerships or organisations you have worked with
Once you’ve described your amazing offering to schools, it’s a great idea to name drop any other projects you may have been involved in. This helps to install confidence that the school will be working with a professional artist. Perhaps you’ve taken part in local festivals, been involved in a Heritage Lottery funded project, partnered with a museum or even worked further afield. This is your chance to impress them with your professionalism and repertoire. Remember, not all projects need to be nationally significant – listing a number of local schools can be just as effective for instilling confidence. Don’t forget to include links!
- A picture is worth a thousand words
Have you taken any new photos during the last year? The best images include students participating in your activities. Remember to always ask permission from the school before photographing a class and make yourself aware of any safeguarding issues. Backs of heads or busy hands are always a nice way around this problem. Active photos area wonderful way of conveying to a school what they can expect from your workshop.
- A few words on pricing
It can be a challenge to commit yourself to a fee, especially when you may be unsure how many pupils may be participating in a workshop, or what the material requirements may be. However, from talking with schools, we recommend that it is far better to include a fee which is indicative than nothing at all. A simple full and half day rate is all you need. Adjustments can always be made once you have a clear idea of who you will be working with, so don’t be afraid to include an approximate figure.
- Are your contact details up to date?
This is a simple one, but please do check that your contact details are up to date. We’ve heard from a number of schools during the past few months who have received email bouncebacks or phones have gone unanswered. Make sure that your email address is current and you have voicemail activated on your phone. These hurdles may be the difference between them working with you or simply considering the next name on the list, and we’d hate you to miss out.
- Include a testimonial or two
Word-of-mouth recommendation is a highly effective form of advertising because it is persuasive, credible and free. This does not need to exhaustive, simply a few sentences from a school or teacher you have worked with, perhaps taken from an email they have sent you. A few simple lines will instil confidence in others considering booking you, knowing you have a history of delivering successful and professional workshops. You can find out more about evaluating your workshops in The Culture Challenge Toolkit, which includes some handy templates you are welcome to use.
- Do you have any video content?
Did you know that we can embed YouTube videos into our website? If you happen to have any footage you would like us to include, simply let us know the link and we’ll do the rest. Ideally these will be films showing your techniques, work with schools or even a short interview. Media rich content provides schools with a fantastic overview of your work, and it’s also great for the pupils to see who will be coming to visit them ahead of the session.
- Do your workshops extend to adults and CPD sessions?
Increasingly, schools are interested in meeting with Cultural Providers who are able to deliver Continuing Professional Development sessions for their staff. This may be an introduction to a number of activities to inspire them, or perhaps a more in depth masterclass. Do mention this in your Directory listing if it is something you’d be interested in running.
- How sociable are you?
We have the means to include links to not just your website but also the main social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. These can provide teachers with a window into your creative world, offering up to the minute news on where you are working and what you are creating. It helps to add real individuality and a personal touch to your online offering, especially when your Culture Challenge listing may only be updated annually.
In light of our recommendations, if you have any changes you would like made to your Directory listing, no matter how small, please email AileneG@bedfordcreativearts.org.uk with the details and we can make sure you’re ready for the new school year in September!