3 useful searches for finding out about school management

Here are three simple uses of advanced search techniques that can help you find out more about how a school is run:

How does this work?

The above searches use three core techniques of advanced searching:

  • Putting phrases in quotation marks restricts results to pages that contain that exact phrase, rather than pages that might contain those words spread around the page.
  • Using the site: operator restricts results to pages on websites that end in the domain you add on the end. Site:uk would limit results to sites that end in .uk (including .co.uk, .nhs.uk and so on). Site:sch.uk limits results to sites that end in – you guessed it – .sch.uk. And site:bham.sch.uk would only give us results from schools in that particular area. You can even use this to specify a specific school website, or what are called ‘fourth level domains‘, like chadvale.bham.sch.uk. Note that there is no space after the colon.
  • Using jargon that we expect to find used on the page we want means we are more likely to find it than if we simply searched for what we want. All industries have their own jargon, and taking the time to find out about it will save you much more time in tracking down the information you want.
There’s also another technique which we haven’t used: limiting results by type of file. You can do this with filetype: – for example if we expected to find information in a PDF (such as a report) then filetype:pdf would only give us PDFs in the results. For spreadsheets, word documents and Powerpoint presentations you would use filetype:xls, filetype:doc and filetype:ppt respectively.

Do you have any more tips or jargon that would be useful to people trying to find out how schools work?

About Paul Bradshaw

Founder of Help Me Investigate. I'm a visiting professor at City University London's School of Journalism, and run an MA in Online Journalism at Birmingham City University. I publish the Online Journalism Blog, and am the co-author of the Online Journalism Handbook and Magazine Editing (3rd edition). I have a particular interest in Freedom of Information and data journalism.
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