Five Red Flags When Viewing a School Website
You should be able to get a lot of information from a school’s website on who they are and what they believe in. Many school websites will state quite clearly their mission and vision for their students, enabling you to see what they stand for and what parents are seeking for their children when choosing that school. You can however learn a lot from what they’re NOT showing the outside world.
Here are five red flags to look for when you’re exploring a school’s website:
1- Not up to date - If you’re noticing articles from years past with no further recent updates, this could be a sign of lack of interest or organization in their marketing and promotion department. Someone on staff should be charged with showcasing students’ latest accomplishments and school events, keeping the school community and future staff and families informed of new developments.
2- Mistakes - This may seem picky but with a number of educated school staff on hand, there are no excuses for having mistakes in a school’s website or literature for that matter. It once again shows a lack of organization in asking the right people to help with editing and translation, as the case may be.
3- No accreditation by international organizations - International schools can be accredited by their own country’s national departments of education (in some cases, this may be a legal requirement in their country) but they should also have some kind of international accreditation, such as through CIS, IBO, MSA, WASC, NEASC, etc. Getting legitimate international accreditation is a thorough and rigorous vetting process, done every 5 to 10 years with on-site inspections to retain their status. Internationally-recognized accreditation will also allow graduating students the opportunity to be accepted to universities abroad.
4- Lack of transparency - At the very least, school websites should have their governing body listed, such as a board of directors, along with who their school leadership team is and their bios. If you see terms like Owner, CEO or Executive Director, you would be right in thinking, “That sounds like a business”. Further transparency would include a list of their teaching staff and how many years they’ve been at the school. This would allow you to calculate their staff retention rate: are teachers happily staying for five or more years, or are they leaving the school every two to three years? That last one would be another red flag, and worth asking during an interview.
5- Stock Photos - When examining a school website’s photos, you may notice a diverse array of nationalities portrayed, in generic locations such as a classroom, an office, or outdoor spaces, which could have been taken anywhere. If you’re not seeing details of the school uniform or the specific buildings from the school, these could very well be stock photos taken off the internet. Photos should reflect both their current student and staff demographics, with the latter hopefully being rich in diversity.
So the next time you’re looking at a prospective overseas school website, keep watch for these red flags. They’re often the sign of bigger problems to avoid down the line. Wish you could know more about where to look and how to find a teaching job abroad? Contact Jacqueline at JPMint. Consulting; she works for you and will help with your CV, cover letter, and advice on your international job search. There are many services available to help you stand out and get the job you have always dreamed of.