How To Make A School Planner
Getting your ideas together
If you are ordering planners for the first time, or want to understand how to make the planner even more valuable to your school community, please take 15 minutes to read this guide.
- Identify the broad objectives for the planner (e.g. homework recording, progress, assessment, rewards and praise, AfL, curriculum support, discipline, etc.).
- List what needs to be covered in each area.
- Get together the information needed to support each area (policy documents, current planners, handouts, meeting notes, etc.).
- Decide how often any reporting systems are done, e.g. termly, weekly, daily or in each lesson. This will help you to decide whether to include daily or weekly reporting in the weekly homework pages.
- Create a running order for the sections or individual pages.
- The School Planner Company designers will take your ideas and create your planner for you.
Planner page ideas
There is no limit (or minimum) to the number of pages you can include in your planner(s) with The School Planner Company. We will design and print precisely the number of pages you need for your planner to work – you are not limited to a fixed number or fixed format. You could use pages from existing publications (please ensure you do not infringe copyright or intellectual property rights), or class worksheets; simply send us a copy, annotate with any necessary amendments, and we will redesign them to be consistent with your new planner layout.
You can save time and use pages from our well-researched library of planner page ideas. You can include pages exactly as they are shown, or use them as a starting point and ask us to amend the content to fit your exact requirements.
If you wish to produce your own page from scratch, you could sketch out your ideas by hand, create the page on your computer or cut and paste sections from your other resources to make your new page. We will take care of the design.
Any ideas, page layouts, text or graphics you create or hold on your computer can be sent to us electronically. Please ensure you retain a copy of all files sent to us.
Your text pages will be printed in black ink, and you can choose whether to print these onto white or a selection of coloured paper.
We can also print pages in full colour onto white paper if you feel this will enhance their impact, though the cost of doing this is slightly higher.
Full colour print throughout
If you wish to have large sections, or even the whole planner, printed in full colour then we recommend you call our team of advisors on 01480 410432 to plan the most cost-effective way forward.
The homework diary section forms the core of your planner. It is important to consider the functions you want this section to perform in order to select the most effective style of homework recording pages for your students.
You may decide you wish students to record their homework by subject, have space for tutor comments and target setting each week, use different languages throughout, or date each day.
We can create a homework diary tailored to your exact requirements. Customised homework diaries are most cost-effective when printed in black ink onto white or coloured paper, though they can be printed in coloured ink at an additional cost.
Do you need the homework diary section to:
- Allow students to record homework by day, or by subject area?
- Show several languages?
- Encourage students to monitor and record their own attendance?
- Provide a forum for feedback and communication between parents / carers and schools?
- Record merits and achievements each week?
- Allow tutors and parents to monitor homework and provide comments and guidance?
- Include dates or week numbers to help students learn to plan?
- Show term dates only or include holiday weeks?
- Include Saturdays or weekends?
- Show Week 1 / 2, A / B, Gold / Blue, etc. for two-week timetables?
If you are producing more than one edition, you need to consider whether each one should have a different style of homework diary section. For example, Key Stage 4 (or high school) planners will always require a different design to Key Stage 3 (or middle school) if you choose to record homework by subject rather than by day (may also be true if you wish to record merits or commendations on the weekly pages). When looking at possible uses for the weekly pages, consider whether it would be better to record particular elements (e.g. merits, absences, etc.) on separate pages in a different section of the book so that patterns and trends can be more easily observed.
Page one (student details)
Most designs use the first page of the planner to capture essential personal details.
The following list is a useful starting point for what you may wish to record. All the items in the list are commonly used, but you must consider what personal information your school community requires and is comfortable with being recorded in a planner.
- School address
- School contact numbers
- Form room
- School website / email
- Tutor Absence line
- House Locker number
- Address Exam centre number
- Telephone numbers
- Candidate number
- Emergency contact name
- Emergency contact number
- Important medical information
The planner is an ideal way to inform students and parents of your school’s policies and procedures and ensures they are always to hand.
You could include pages which give students and parents details of important dates along with school rules and regulations. For example, you could include home-school agreements, codes of conduct, expectations, Internet and school network policies, ‘What to do if’ pages, bullying policies, marking criteria and homework policies.
For any pages which are to be signed by the headteacher or other senior staff, we recommend taking a scan of the signature to place on the page.
Including policies in the planner is helpful, as you can assert that all students then know what they are (some schools go as far as to have students sign up to them, rather like an employee signing up to the staff handbook).
Pages for students and parents
Including pages that help students organise their school life helps develop independent study skills.
If the planner is relied upon by the students for their personal organisation, it becomes easier for the school to use the planner to deliver other initiatives through it and can reduce administrative and print costs overall. It can strengthen the home-school link, by involving parents as an accepted part of the process (e.g. pages to record letters home, weekly signing of the homework record, etc.). If the planner is being used to record achievements or support Assessment for Learning (or similar), parents can maintain a better understanding of how their child is progressing.
Whatever your mechanism for assessing pupil progress, the planner is ideal as a day-to-day journal, ILP and target setting record.
Students could be encouraged to retain their planners in order to demonstrate organisational and planning skills to employers. You could include pages which give information and record the outcomes of mentoring, action planning, target setting, careers guidance, work-related learning, citizenship and academic reviews.
Subject support pages
Many schools choose to include pages to support individual subjects, ensuring that students have access to key information (formulae, periodic tables, maps, etc.) both at home and in all lessons.
Either to support your literacy strategy or just to have a good source of reference available at all times, the inclusion of literacy pages in the planner is highly recommended. Popular pages include basic grammar and punctuation, spelling strategies, word lists and tips for both improving writing and checking work that has been done.
The importance of a good cover is often overlooked or considered as an afterthought when the rest of the content has been decided. A cover can engage the students, making the planner approachable and attractive, encouraging them to be proud of their planner. The planner will be seen in the wider community and can reflect the values of the school. You could incorporate your logo or crest into the cover design, along with achievement logos, such as Sport England, Investors in People, Healthy Schools, etc.
Ideas for your cover design
Photographs can be a good feature in an effective and engaging cover design.
Images that work well include:
- Prospectus-style shots that show students engaged in interesting work or a sport (particularly where the school has a specialist focus).
- Shots of a building (or part of a building) that has interesting architecture or important meaning to the school community.
- Aerial photos of the school site, possibly including part of the surrounding area.
- Photos or scans of student artwork.
Simple, crisp designs can be equally effective. You could choose to reflect the image of the school in line with your prospectus or other literature, or use different colours for each year group or Key Stage.
You could choose or amend one of our templates.
Other things to consider
- Name and form on the cover
If you want students to write their name on the front cover, go for matt lamination. This still gives the cover good protection, but is grainy enough for a ball point pen to write on it. To keep the look clean and neat, you could opt simply to omit the student’s name from the front cover and to have personal details printed on page one of the planner.
Many students leave their planners permanently open at the timetable page, which makes the surrounding pages prone to damage. You could have the timetable printed on the outside back cover so that it is visible with the book closed. To keep the look clean, you could have the timetable printed on card as the last leaf before the back cover.
- Whiteboard back cover
If you use whiteboards, you could include one in the planner (it’s free to make the cover a whiteboard with The School Planner Company). To keep the planner looking neat, the whiteboard could go on the inside of the front or back cover.
- Stop / Go covers
To avoid the cost of additional stop/go cards, you could have the front cover predominantly red and the back predominantly green (or vice versa).
- Key information
You could also choose to have key information printed on the inside of the covers or on the back, for example, your classroom code, how to use the planner, values statement, essential equipment, etc.
Step 1 – How to order
Send us your calendar dates, along with any school policies and information you would like to include (save time by sending us your personalised page content digitally, if you can).
Choose any pages you’d like to include from our library (see page 15) and make a note of any required changes. Print pages from the included CD and mark changes by hand or just email us the reference code of the page along with the changes you would like us to make.
Ask us to create matching pages for your school rewards, achievements and other systems.
Step 2 – Design and Proofing
Our expert designers will create your customised content for each student planner edition.
We provide you with a proof and confirmation of costs (allow 4–6 weeks).
Mark any changes you need on the proof, and we will amend the design (allow yourself 4–6 weeks, as you may be consulting with other staff).
Step 3 – Print and Delivery
Once we receive approval from you, we will begin printing your planners.
Your planners will be delivered to the school on or before your specified delivery date, usually 3–6 weeks.
Help and Support
Our team is here to give you all the help and support you need to create the best possible student planner and homework diary for your school.
A dedicated account manager will be appointed to help and guide you, from discussion of ideas and good practice through to final delivery. We also have advisors who can visit you in school, if required.
- Our advisors and designers will ensure any material sent is put into a consistent form that works. We will make recommendations if we think anything could be improved.
- Your account manager will act as your single point of contact and will be available to support you through the whole order process.
- We offer unlimited telephone and email support. If you have any questions or need advice, please call us on 01480 410432 or email: [email protected] and we will be happy to help.
- We post school planner and homework diary hints, tips and ideas on our blog.