The website, designed by e4education.com (the same people that pump out those glossy, thrill-of-a-read prospectuses every year for probably an equally intangible sum of money), definitely doesn't look like it's worth five grand plus another every year; it looks like the type of thing a year 8 would create if they had half an hour of ICT left and couldn't really give a damn, which is why we here at the Trash can't understand how they managed to reach that cost, let alone the school management look at what e4education.com had created and go "Yeah, that looks alright. We'll pay you through the nose for that website that looks like back end of a Winnebago."
Putting the money aside for a moment, it seems absurd that the school would while away thousands of pounds on a sub-par website, when we have perfectly adequate IT staff right here in school that would be more than capable of designing and running the school website. Or even, if they really wanted to kill two birds with one stone, they would make it so that one or two IT or Computing students could base their Extended Project on the design or re-design of the school website. That's free man-hours and creative input for the school, resulting in what would be a brilliant website, as well as an extra qualification for the UCAS form.
However, these good ideas out of the way, we looked at how much website design should cost. Fellow educational website designers Moodle are quoted a one-off £90 installation fee, as well as £750 per-annum (for our size of school website) maintenance fee, which includes a free domain name, access to your file area for larger files, disaster recovery nightly backups, security upgrades and one free branch upgrade per year. Even if you go for a non-educational web designer, one of the top-ranking sites on Google asks for a one-off £395 with an even longer list of free additions to the deal.
We finally ran the type of website Hampstead has through a web design price calculator, and it averaged out that the site should cost £474, which is exceedingly far from £5k.
Even though we are exasperated once again, the school does not surprise us. After all, these are the people who spent £49,000 on Attendance last year. So next time you wonder why there's not enough money for a trip or equipment, ask not what your school can't do for you, ask what you can't do for your school.