One of the many challenges schools faced in 2020 was the inability to bring visitors into their settings whilst committing to prioritising the health and safety of their pupils and staff.
This meant that many events such as ‘Open Days’ were cancelled and that parents and students would not have the opportunity to visit and explore their classrooms and environments.
The use of technology and digital tools became absolutely necessary to cope with this and make it possible. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, Claires Court in Maidenhead knew it wanted to offer prospective pupils and parents more convenient access and a glimpse into life at the Berkshire-based school by using technology and its website. To address this and give families a deeper look into its three campuses, Claires Court engaged with their website provider and its partners to create interactive site maps.
Claires Court’s Head of Marketing, Mike Morrissey, said: “Enabling children and families the chance to see our location and facilities is really important for their research into finding the right school for their children. This is especially relevant this year when physical access has been so difficult. We recognised online tours as important content for all family members to be able to see at their convenience, especially those working long hours, travelling or overseas, to engage with school life. We really wanted to create maps that are informative and easy to use, reassuring families with an insight into life at Claires Court with more engaging content. Interactive maps have proved to be a key tool to support new students and staff with their transition into their new environment.”
Mr Morrissey added: “Another successful outcome of the maps is as a way-finder for new pupils and families joining, who, especially this year, haven’t had the chance to have traditional transition events to get to know the schools as well as in the past. This has also been the case for new colleagues joining who can get their bearings and know the lay of the land across the three campuses before starting.”
When new member of staff Hayley Johnston started at Claires Court she found herself using the map to get acquainted with her work environment. She said: “The maps are a really good way to familiarise yourself with the layout of each campus. I also love that you can see photographs of each area or introduction videos and links to more information. As a new starter it took away the anxiety of ‘not knowing’ as it gave a sense of where I needed to go on my first day.”
The virtual maps are designed to be a flexible tool to facilitate the experience of moving around the school setting whilst providing important information to visitors; acting as a guided virtual tour.
Claires Court opted for an illustrated rendering of their three sites as it best allowed them to capture the vastness of their campuses. The illustrated maps provide a consistent and easy to use interface as well as the opportunity to use it as a significant piece of marketing collateral. These maps serve as a flexible piece of marketing. Claires Court has been able to use the images for prospectus content, across email campaigns and in new starter communications.
It was also possible to create the maps with their provider remotely using a combination of resources such as Google Earth Pro, site plans and the combination of photos and iPhone recorded video. This eliminated the need to come on site which was restricted at certain times during the year. The collaboration allowed for social distancing measures to be obeyed as well as save time and resources.
With support from its web developers Claires Court is able to customise and update the content by using the map’s points of interest with multi-media including photographs, films, links, text and call to action buttons. There’s also a flyover animation of the maps for added interactivity as well as a link with google maps for directions and travel time.
Parents are especially enjoying having the virtual map as a resource. A parent of a Year 3 pupil wrote to express their delight with the update to the school’s website. They commented: “I personally think it’s a brilliant resource to have as it showcases the school really well and is easy to navigate around. You get a feeling of seeing the school through the bird’s-eye view and the animation and the different sections mean that you can read about all the different aspects of school life that our school has to offer along with photos and videos to break it up. It all adds to the experience of getting to know the school. I found it easy to navigate, clear to read and really professional.”
Mr Morrissey added: “Feedback from families and colleagues has been very positive, with the maps giving people an impression of the school, as well as practical help and comfort when starting on a first day. We’re also able to adapt and add content as we go along to provide information that answers frequent enquiries and ties in with our other virtual tour content. Thank you to our provider for your brilliant work.”
To view the maps, please visit www.clairescourt.com/virtual-tours
If you are considering illustrated maps for your school, the following is a list of essential information required to ensure you can best represent your school:
1. A clear brief on what is your vision for this project and what do you want to achieve by recreating your school campus with CGI? To help understand the way in which the map will be displayed.
2. Site survey to best represent your school, facilities and grounds. You should provide high quality images and video that depicts the true detail and scale of the buildings you want illustrated.
3. Added details or finishing touches provide an idea of some of the additional details that you’d like included that are not necessarily in the photos or video provided (for example; flower beds, football nets, a pond, fencing around an area etc.)
For more information please contact:
Mike Morrissey, Marketing Manager
Tel: 01628 327721
Hayley Johnston, Marketing Officer
Tel: 01628 327722