Beware what you say on your website

A school recently reported to the Advertising Standards Authority has been told to change its website

It may come as a bit of a surprise to you to find that something said on the school’s own website about itself is could be of interest to the Advertising Standards Authority. But it can.

In fact, the ASA can take an interest in anything that can be considered a form of promotion – if someone refers the matter to them for investigation.

Now of course the ASA spends most of its time worrying about the latest offer from rival TV service suppliers, downmarket newspapers and time share companies. But there’s nothing in the rule book to say that a complaint can’t be made about a school website.

And one just has. I don’t know if it is the first ever such complaint, or who made it, but I can say that a significant number of complaints about advertising that reach the ASA are made by rival organisations. This complaint might have come from parents or it might have come from another school – one doesn’t know – but the fact is that once the complaint has been made it ought to be answered.

In this case, a school advertised itself as offering “World Class” education, and the challenge was that the school should justify such a claim. The school in response to the ASA pointed out that the phrase was not an official one used by Ofsted, and no one would be confused.

In response the ASA said that,

“The ASA considered parents of school-age children would be aware of the rating system Ofsted used and would be likely to realise that “World Class” was not a rating awarded by them.

“Nevertheless, we still considered “World Class,” used alongside references to high academic qualifications and a teaching team with a proven record in high performance in the context of an ad for a school, suggested an objective rating rather than an aspirational term, particularly when presented with capital letters and in speech marks or inverted commas.”

So the school got its knuckles rapped.

The full set of rulings for this week, including the one about the school are shown here. If you want to know what the ASA does and how it works, the details are at http://www.asa.org.uk/About-ASA.aspx

In essence not much happens if you are found to be in breach of the regulations of the ASA – there are no fines or anything. They just say, “don’t do it again”. At most it is a bit embarrassing. But it is, as a general rule, worth asking oneself, “Can I really prove the claim that I am making?”

That is where the difficulty with a phrase like “world class” comes. It is hard to prove unless you have an award or can show that there is widespread agreement that the phrase is applicable here.

Tony Attwood

Reducing the workload in the school office

The simplest way to make your school work more efficiently

Every organisation is inefficient. 100% efficiency is an impossibility. In this regard the school is no different from any other type of organisation.

But every organisation can become more efficient. With our school, just as with every other organisation, we can make some minor changes which remove some of the inefficiencies and as a result make the school more effective in meeting its aims.

Indeed the results of a simple efficiency change can on occasion go far beyond this.

Take the school office, for example. Most school offices are overloaded with work, and most school offices run on the goodwill of those who work within them, with staff regularly undertaking unpaid overtime in order to ensure everything is done.

But supposing it were possible to implement a few minor changes – changes that would be welcomed by everyone working in the school office. Changes which reduced the pressure on the office. Changes that reduced the workload, reduced the need for unpaid overtime, and in fact ensured that work requested by school managers was completed more rapidly.

That surely would be a good thing and would ensure that loyal long serving staff stayed in the school.

But that’s not all. Because, as repeated surveys by the School of Educational Administration and Management have shown, the level of demand placed upon school offices is increasing year on year, and some school offices are reaching breaking point.

Fortunately there is a way of making the school office much more efficient. A way that is welcomed by every school administrator who sees it and experiences it. A way that makes the whole school run more effectively, without the school having to spend a penny on changing the office or bringing in extra staff.

It is an approach which deals with the way in which the school office processes the work it has to undertake – and which relates to the way interruptions within the office are dealt with.

Now it has to be said that at this point some school managers stop considering the issue when they hear that it is about interruptions, on the grounds that “interruptions are inevitable” in the school office.

And to some degree this is true. But only to some degree. Our work shows that 80% of school office interruptions can be avoided, without any reduction in the service given by the office to governors, managers, parents, teachers and pupils. In fact the quality of their service goes up.

How this can be done is described in the paper “The simplest way to make your school work more efficiently” which available as an online download for just £4.95 plus VAT and can be obtained directly with payment made by credit card at http://shop.firstandbest.co.uk/product_info.php?products_id=807

If you wish to be invoiced for the report then this can be arranged through any of the methods below. However there is an additional charge of £2.50 made to cover the administrative cost of processing the invoice where the report is not paid for on-line at the time of purchase.

Please provide an email address if ordering in this way so that we can email the report to you.

  • By post to First and Best, Hamilton House, Earlstrees Ct, Earlstrees Way, Corby, NN17 4HH
  • By fax to 01536 399 012
  • By phone on 01536 399 011 with a credit card or school purchase order number
  • By email to Sales@firstandbest.co.uk with a school purchase order number.

Tony Attwood
Director, School of Educational Management and Administration

The results: what is taking up your time?

A couple of weeks ago I asked you the question, “what is taking up your time?” and was particularly interested in tasks that you are required to do but which seem, as far as you can see, to be of little benefit to you, your students, or the school.

First of all, thank you to everyone who took the time to reply. Given the tone of frustration in some replies, clearly we have tapped into a feeling that a lot of precious teaching time is wasted on unnecessary tasks.

As promised, a summary of your replies is set out below together with some quotes which are not only from readers of The School Efficiency Newsgroup, but also from the following:

  • The Secondary Educational Management Newsgroup
  • The Primary Educational Management Newsgroup
  • The Schools English Literacy and Drama Newsgroup
  • The Schools Computer Science and ICT Newsgroup
  • The Schools PSHE and Citizenship Newsgroup
  • The Schools SENCo Newsgroup
  • The Schools Behaviour and Motivation Newsgroup

If you would like to sign up to a newsletter in addition to the one you are currently signed up to, you can do this at: http://schools-news.co.uk/lists/?p=subscribe&id=22

The results

22% of respondents reported that checking and dealing with emails is taking up their time.

“One thing that does cause extra work on a daily basis is colleagues not reading the whole email. I frequently receive questions that have arisen from reading the first line of a message and not reading the rest.”

“Emails, not just unwanted ones, but others that contain reams of paperwork to do. Some days it is either read the emails or do some other paperwork!”

18% reported that the amount of administration and paperwork is unnecessarily time consuming.

“I took early retirement from the state sector in 2000 because, even then, the ridiculous amount of paper work was killing me”

17% said that the increasing number of marking requirements are taking up their time

“Quality Marking! Giving children in year one written feedback that they cannot read independently which then needs to be read to them in order for them to respond.”

“My main concern regarding the new qualifications in relation to workload is the increased amount of time that has been put on us by the SQA for internal marking of unit assessments for N3-Higher.”

12% reported that dealing with parents and their demands is taking up a significant amount of time.

“Completing a behaviour book for an individual child (just because the parent has requested one) even though I see her every night and have said I can pass on any issues verbally.”

“Dealing with the behaviour of parents!”

11% reported that dealing with pupils’ behaviour was time consuming.

Although no-one responded with this as their “one” time consuming activity, it did feature as a side note in a number of responses, so for this reason I decided to add it into the overall results.

6% reported that teaching under certain circumstances is decreasing their teaching efficiency.

“I am expected to teach pupils with varying abilities and a selection of diagnosed learning difficulties, with no two pupils the same. I have just been informed that the SFL support that I had for 3 out of 4 periods has been taken away!”

5% said that getting to grips with the new technologies are taking up their time at school and at home.

“The biggest thing for me is new technology – I waste so much time sorting technology out when I really don’t know what I am doing.”

5% reported that sorting out the chaos accompanying changes in legislation is highly time consuming.

“The one thing that has taken over my job in recent weeks has been caused by the change in legislation that enables one school to ‘take’ pupils.”

4% reported that it was the overall quantity of the tasks in their workload that took up too much time.

“There is an expectation that the teacher will or should just do it. Tasks are added but not one task has ever been removed.”
Lucy Mister
School of Educational Management and Administration


The simple way to reduce pressure

An efficient school administrative system can greatly reduce pressure on teachers and school managers.

Most school administration systems have simply evolved over time. New issues and problems have arisen, and administrative systems are created to meet these issues.

Each is bolted on to the other systems in place without any thought as to the overall impact. As a result the whole administrative system becomes less and less effective.

This has an impact, not only for those who run the school administration, but for the whole school, because if the administration becomes less efficient, then the whole school becomes less efficient. Classroom lessons continue to be taught in the normal way, of course, but the admin that backs everything up becomes less effective at providing that support.

However, there are ways of overcoming this problem – and in many cases they involve very simple changes that will not only benefit the school as a whole, but will also make life much better for those working in the school office.

Indeed, as research by the School of Educational Administration and Management in 2013 has shown, around two thirds of school administrators undertake regular unpaid overtime in order to get their work done.

A promise to these members of staff (and to most of the rest of their colleagues who said that they do occasional unpaid overtime) that they could have this regular demand for overtime reduced inevitably ensures a great welcome in the school office to suggestions of change.

To help with this process the School of Educational Administration and Management has produced a report, “Reducing the pressure on teachers and school managers”, which looks at ways of reforming school administration to the benefit of everyone in the school.

The report is available as an online download for just £4.95 plus VAT and can be obtained directly with payment made by credit card at http://shop.firstandbest.co.uk/product_info.php?products_id=805

If you wish to be invoiced for the report then this can be arranged through any of the methods below. However there is an additional charge of £2.50 made to cover the administrative cost of processing the invoice where the report is not paid for on-line at the time of purchase.

Please provide an email address if ordering in this way so that we can email the report to you.

  • By post to First and Best, Hamilton House, Earlstrees Ct, Earlstrees Way, Corby, NN17 4HH
  • By fax to 01536 399 012
  • By phone on 01536 399 011 with a credit card or school purchase order number
  • By email to Sales@firstandbest.co.uk with a school purchase order number.

Tony Attwood
Director, School of Educational Management and Administration

Is it really possible to save serious money through changing the way the school is run?

Take a look at your local supermarket, GP surgery, high street coffee shop or post office and you might well be able to list half a dozen inefficiencies that are easy to spot.

This is not to say that people in these locations are deliberately being difficult or inefficient. Rather that somehow and for some reason the organisation in question is simply not working as well as it should.

And that is odd, because if you as an outsider can see the problems straight off, why can’t those who work there see what is wrong.

The answer, it turns out, is simple. It is difficult for most of us to spot inefficiencies inside the organisations in which we work. This applies to every organisation, from a hospital to a printing company. And it also applies to schools.

It is difficult – but not impossible – to spot and reform the inefficiencies within our own school. It can also be hard to convince our colleagues to change their processes, and it can be even harder to maintain any changes that are introduced.

Quite why this is so is not too hard to see. None of us likes to be told that we are not efficient – so there is a resistance at that point. Habit is another factor that is hard to break down.

What’s more, new processes have to be learned and can take longer at first, and so when judged by common sense many efficiency changes seem to be less efficient than the old ways, and so gradually we slip back into the old habits.

However, those schools that have implemented what has become the standard four-stage approach to becoming more efficient have generated massive savings in terms of time and money.

To help managers and administrators in schools introduce the efficiency savings that can transform their financial position, the School of Educational Administration and Management set up the Certificate in School Efficiency – a two month on-line course suitable for managers and administrators throughout the school.

Savings that have been reported from those doing the course range from a few thousand pounds a year to over £35,000 a year, every year.

There are details of the course on http://www.admin.org.uk/CertSchoolEff.html. The next starting dates for the course are 16th March 2015 and 13th April 2015. If you have any enquiries or would like a printed prospectus please call 01536 399 007 or email enquiries@admin.org.uk
Tony Attwood
Director, School of Educational Management and Administration

There is a constant overload of work plus endless interruptions, and it’s up to you to cope. But how?

It is a strange fact that while some school offices are horribly overloaded with work, others are dealing with their workload very readily. But how can one school be so different from another?

Research from the School of Educational Administration and Management shows that the answer has nothing to do with the number of school administrators employed or the size of the school.

Instead it has a lot to do with the way in which the school administration is organised. It has to do with how time is managed, how visitors, emails and interruptions are handled, how the issue of stress is resolved, and how the work overload is explored and resolved.

Indeed, where these specific approaches are followed, the work overload is reduced, the job becomes much more pleasant and fulfilling, and the need for unpaid overtime among office staff is eliminated.

But, of course, in many schools the work overload is still there, and we find that in these schools it is the case that a review of how the office works has not been undertaken for a number of years.

In such schools it is often felt that the way the office operates is just the way things are. Interruptions are inevitable. Money is short and so an overload of work is inevitable. That is just how it is. But, in fact, such a view turns out to be false.

The School of Educational Administration and Management was set up ten years ago with government funding and the support of the University of Northampton, and has worked with hundreds of schools to find ways of improving the effectiveness of school offices. We have placed our findings within our two month course: the Certificate in Management Practice: Education Work Management and Administration course.

There are no classes to attend, the course is run on-line, and students are allocated their own tutor with whom they can discuss matters also on-line. The course covers time management, stress management and dealing with visitors. The next starting date is 9th March 2015.

To find out more please do visit http://www.admin.org.uk/courses.html If you have any questions you can call us on 01536 399 007 or email enquiries@admin.org.uk
Tony Attwood
Director, School of Educational Management and Administration

What is the best way of running the school office?

The question above is interesting in that it suggests that there could be more than one way of doing things within the school office, whether one is thinking about how to deal with interruptions, how best to handle the work overload, etc, etc.

What’s more, it highlights the fact that in many schools a review of how the office works has not been undertaken for a number of years. The processes that operate within the office are (it is argued) just how things are. There is nothing different (it is suggested) that can be done.

And yet when we come to look at school administrations across the UK we find that hundreds of different approaches are being used.

And, curiously, until about ten years ago no one was particularly asking, “which approach is the most efficient? Which is the most effective? Which has the most dramatic and positive influence on the school?”

And, perhaps most dramatically of all, very few people were saying, “Is it really possible to do all this work in half the time it currently takes?”

In fact, the way in which the office operates impacts on the school as a whole. It determines just how much value for money the school gets from its purchases, how efficient it is, and how effective the front line handling of parents is on a daily basis.

The School of Educational Administration and Management, which was set up ten years ago with government funding and the support of the University of Northampton, researches the effectiveness of various models of school administration and through its courses explores ways of enhancing the effectiveness of school administrative processes.

There are no classes to attend. All courses are run on-line, and students are allocated their own tutor with whom they can discuss matters on-line. Courses start at regular dates throughout the year.

The National Certificate in School Administration covers a very wide range of fields including work management, government policy, education and the law, office administration and business management. The course takes one year. Next starting date 26th January 2015.

The Certificate in Work Management course covers one module of the National Certificate course. It takes two months and covers time management, stress management and dealing with visitors. Next starting date 9th March 2015.

To find out more please do visit http://www.admin.org.uk/courses.html If you have any questions you can call us on 01536 399 007 or email enquiries@admin.org.uk
Tony Attwood
Director, School of Educational Management and Administration


What is the best way of running the school office?

The question above is interesting in that it suggests that there could be more than one way of doing things within the school office, whether one is thinking about how to deal with interruptions, how best to handle the work overload, etc, etc.

What’s more, it highlights the fact that in many schools a review of how the office works has not been undertaken for a number of years. The processes that operate within the office are (it is argued) just how things are. There is nothing different (it is suggested) that can be done.

And yet when we come to look at school administrations across the UK we find that hundreds of different approaches are being used.

And, curiously, until about ten years ago no one was particularly asking, “which approach is the most efficient? Which is the most effective? Which has the most dramatic and positive influence on the school?”

And, perhaps most dramatically of all, very few people were saying, “Is it really possible to do all this work in half the time it currently takes?”

In fact, the way in which the office operates impacts on the school as a whole. It determines just how much value for money the school gets from its purchases, how efficient it is, and how effective the front line handling of parents is on a daily basis.

The School of Educational Administration and Management, which was set up ten years ago with government funding and the support of the University of Northampton, researches the effectiveness of various models of school administration and through its courses explores ways of enhancing the effectiveness of school administrative processes.

There are no classes to attend. All courses are run on-line, and students are allocated their own tutor with whom they can discuss matters on-line. Courses start at regular dates throughout the year.

The National Certificate in School Administration covers a very wide range of fields including work management, government policy, education and the law, office administration and business management. The course takes one year. Next starting date 26th January 2015.

The Certificate in Work Management course covers one module of the National Certificate course. It takes two months and covers time management, stress management and dealing with visitors. Next starting date 9th March 2015.

To find out more please do visit http://www.admin.org.uk/courses.html If you have any questions you can call us on 01536 399 007 or email enquiries@admin.org.uk
Tony Attwood
Director, School of Educational Management and Administration


What is the most efficient way of organising a guest speaker?

What is the most efficient way of organising a guest speaker to talk to students about a career in the IT industry?

Following the launch of ‘Skype in the classroom’ in 2011, Skype and Code.org have made it possible for students to listen to and interact with IT industry experts through their ‘Guest Speakers in Computer Science’ initiative.

‘Guest Speakers in Computer Science’ enables students to have direct communication with industry professionals via the computer screen over Skype.

This makes it possible for students to get a better insight into the different careers available in IT and to access additional information which may help them to pursue a career in the IT industry.

What’s more, it may also be possible for the students to listen to an industry expert from another country, providing the speaker is able to speak English and is in the same time zone.

Personally, I think the initiative is very helpful to both careers advisors and IT teachers as the logistics of inviting guest speakers into schools to motivate students can be a challenge and, in some cases, can be quite costly.

There is more information on how ‘Guest Speakers in Computer Science’ works and how your school can get involved at: https://education.skype.com/computerscience

We have now set up a Twitter account which lists the various free resources for schools that we stumble upon on a regular basis. Follow us @FreeSchoolStuff
Lucy Mister
School of Educational Management and Administration

Is it really possible to save serious money

Is it really possible to save serious money
through changing the way the school is run?

Take a look at your local supermarket, GP surgery, high street coffee shop or post office and you might well be able to list half a dozen inefficiencies that are easy to spot.

This is not to say that people in these locations are deliberately being difficult or inefficient. Rather that somehow and for some reason the organisation in question is simply not working as well as it should.

And that is odd, because if you as an outsider can see the problems straight off, why can’t those who work there see what is wrong.

The answer, it turns out, is simple. It is difficult for most of us to spot inefficiencies inside the organisations in which we work. This applies to every organisation, from a hospital to a printing company. And it also applies to schools.

It is difficult – but not impossible – to spot and reform the inefficiencies within our own school. It can also be hard to convince our colleagues to change their processes, and it can be even harder to maintain any changes that are introduced.

Quite why this is so is not too hard to see. None of us likes to be told that we are not efficient – so there is a resistance at that point. Habit is another factor that is hard to break down.

What’s more, new processes have to be learned and can take longer at first, and so when judged by common sense many efficiency changes seem to be less efficient than the old ways, and so gradually we slip back into the old habits.

However, those schools that have implemented what has become the standard four-stage approach to becoming more efficient have generated massive savings in terms of time and money.

To help managers and administrators in schools introduce the efficiency savings that can transform their financial position, the School of Educational Administration and Management set up the Certificate in School Efficiency – a two month on-line course suitable for managers and administrators throughout the school.

Savings that have been reported from those doing the course range from a few thousand pounds a year to over £35,000 a year, every year.

There are details of the course on http://www.admin.org.uk/CertSchoolEff.html. The next starting dates for the course are 16th February 2015, 16th March 2015 and 13th April 2015. If you have any enquiries or would like a printed prospectus please call 01536 399 007 or email enquiries@admin.org.uk
Tony Attwood
Director, School of Educational Management and Administration

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