Top Tips for Sustainable Purchasing in Schools: “8. Buy food locally and seasonally”.

In 2012 the government launched a useful little publication entitled Top Tips for Sustainability in Schools.

Its aim was to “suggest practical ways for schools to become more sustainable, should they choose to, whilst at the same time saving money.”

This publication includes Top Tips to reduce carbon in schools, Top Tips to reduce energy and water use in schools, Top Tips for sustainable school travel, Top tips to reduce waste in schools, and so on.

Recently at the SEAM we have been looking into “best value” purchasing for schools and, should you be interested, we have written a report that is for sale on our on-line shop (link below). So I was interested in reading the Top Tips for Sustainable Purchasing in Schools.

As someone who consciously tries to keep my carbon footprint down when doing my own shopping – I love asparagus but only indulge during the short 8 week season for English asparagus – I was pleased to read Top Tip number 8 of the section on Sustainable Purchasing in Schools: “Buy food locally and seasonally”.

And apparently most parents are with me on this one, according to a YouGov poll commissioned by the NFU, 76% of parents said that schools should source British food wherever possible and 87% of parents said that at least half of the ingredients in school meals should be procured from British farms.

Minette Batters, NFU Deputy President commented: “It’s pleasing to see from the survey that 78 per cent of parents will take up the offer of free school meals that are now available to all pupils up to the age of seven at schools across England.

“This is a great opportunity for school caterers and all those involved in the supply chain to back British farming, and procure more seasonal local and British food.

“The NFU has been working hard for change and is committed to being part of the independent School Food Plan.

“We will continue to play our part in ensuring schools source more British food and helping to focus ideas to provide a strong platform to build a bright future for our children – not just for lunch but through cooking and food education.”

You can find the results of the poll at: http://www.meatinfo.co.uk/news/fullstory.php/aid/17570/Parents_want_school_food_to_be_British_wherever_possible,_according_to_NFU_poll.html

And the government’s Top Tips for Sustainability in Schools publication at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/187037/DFE-32056-2012.pdf

Link to SEAM report How to ensure that your school always gets best value for money
Tony Attwood
Director, School of Educational Management and Administration


Are you responsible for saving a life?

Question: What are administrators and management doing about getting a defibrillator installed in their school?

As you may know, I often like to call on the expertise and knowledge of the admin newsgroup to help answer questions, some trivial and others quite complex, which have been put to me by your admin and management counterparts across the country.

If you wouldn’t mind giving me 4 minutes of your time to answer a maximum of 8 questions (for some it may be less than this), then hopefully we can provide some information that can be useful for all schools. The results will be published on the newsgroup in a couple of weeks.

Link to the questionnaire: http://hamiltonhouse.polldaddy.com/s/are-you-responsible-for-saving-a-life
Tony Attwood
Director, School of Educational Management and Administration

When there’s no more space

Many schools are running out of storage space for all sorts of items. But what is the solution?

Last week the School of Education Administration and Management revealed that some schools were starting to remove the filing cabinets in their offices, and are scanning all documents rather than holding any information on paper.

The reason is simple: the school has grown, they need another person in the office, but there’s no more space for another desk. The cabinets have to go.

No one seems to have done any research into this issue, so we’d thought we’d find out how much of a storage problem there is, be it for outdoor clothes or maintenance equipment or anything else.

We’ve produced a survey which shouldn’t take more than two minutes to complete. I’d be really grateful if you could answer the questions so we can see if there really is a country-wide storage problem or not, and if there is, what schools are doing to solve it.

Once we have the answers in, I’ll report back with the findings. And with a bit of luck, a few suggestions on how any difficulties might be overcome.

To take the survey please click here.
Tony Attwood
Director, School of Educational Management and Administration

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

A small change to the running of the school’s administration can save £££s and make the school run far more smoothly

Walk into a dozen schools, look at the school office, and you will find half a dozen different ways of running a school office. At least.

But which one is best? Which one is the most efficient? Which is the most effective? Which has the most dramatic and positive influence on the school? Or do the different approaches have no effect?

The fact is that for many of us these seem almost nonsensical questions because, surely, the office is the office. The way it is run is the way school offices are run.

However, behind the scenes the way the office operates does impact 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 day by day basis.

Indeed, how effective the school is in these regards can come down to something as simple as the level of interruptions the office receives.

In some schools there will an attitude that says, “Interruptions are inevitable – it is part of the job of the office to respond. They can’t be stopped.” Elsewhere there can be the view that interruptions are the single biggest cause of delays and errors. Reduce interruptions by even 10%, and productivity and accuracy in the office rises and costs start to come down.

Likewise in some schools there is no monitoring or control of the work that is given to the school office. Everyone, from governors and the head through to classroom teachers, can walk in and ask for something to be prepared, copied, printed, distributed, put on the website…

Such an approach can lead to significant overloads of work, without any clear indication of priorities or any thought of the amount of time office staff have available.

Meanwhile in other schools there is a policy in which all parents are encouraged to come in and see the administrator to sort out matters – offering parents an “open door” vision of the school. While this may be good PR it is very bad in terms of managing workload, and at the very least the time spent in this way needs to be monitored and alternative approaches considered.

Issues such as these resonate through hundreds of different policies and procedures that affect the school and the running of its administration, and each has a cost implication for the school.

Each of these different attitudes and approaches – and indeed many more like them – result in different procedures. And it is these procedures that determine the effectiveness and efficiency of the school overall.

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 explores ways of enhancing school efficiency through three on-line courses which are detailed below.

In each course students have their own tutor with whom they can discuss matters on-line, and there are no classes to attend. Courses start at regular dates throughout the year.

The Certificate in School Efficiency course takes two months and covers not only how efficiencies are made but also details the efficiency programmes that schools have introduced during recent years as a result of doing the course. Starting dates are 10th November 2014, 12th January 2015, 16th February 2015 and 16th March 2015.

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.

Finally there is the Certificate in Work Management course. This takes two months and covers time management, stress management and dealing with visitors. Next starting date 10th November and there will be another course starting on the 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
School of Educational Administration and Management
Tony Attwood
School of Educational Administration and Management

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

Most school offices are as they are, because that’s how they are

A small change to the running of the school’s administration can save £££s and make the school run far more smoothly

Walk into a dozen schools, look at the school office, and you will find half a dozen different ways of running a school office. At least.

But which one is best? Which one is the most efficient? Which is the most effective? Which has the most dramatic and positive influence on the school? Or do the different approaches have no effect?

The fact is that for many of us these seem almost nonsensical questions because, surely, the office is the office. The way it is run is the way school offices are run.

However, behind the scenes the way the office operates does impact 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 day by day basis.

Indeed, how effective the school is in these regards can come down to something as simple as the level of interruptions the office receives.

In some schools there will an attitude that says, “Interruptions are inevitable – it is part of the job of the office to respond. They can’t be stopped.” Elsewhere there can be the view that interruptions are the single biggest cause of delays and errors. Reduce interruptions by even 10%, and productivity and accuracy in the office rises and costs start to come down.

Likewise in some schools there is no monitoring or control of the work that is given to the school office. Everyone, from governors and the head through to classroom teachers, can walk in and ask for something to be prepared, copied, printed, distributed, put on the website…

Such an approach can lead to significant overloads of work, without any clear indication of priorities or any thought of the amount of time office staff have available.

Meanwhile in other schools there is a policy in which all parents are encouraged to come in and see the administrator to sort out matters – offering parents an “open door” vision of the school. While this may be good PR it is very bad in terms of managing workload, and at the very least the time spent in this way needs to be monitored and alternative approaches considered.

Issues such as these resonate through hundreds of different policies and procedures that affect the school and the running of its administration, and each has a cost implication for the school.

Each of these different attitudes and approaches – and indeed many more like them – result in different procedures. And it is these procedures that determine the effectiveness and efficiency of the school overall.

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 explores ways of enhancing school efficiency through three on-line courses which are detailed below.

In each course students have their own tutor with whom they can discuss matters on-line, and there are no classes to attend. Courses start at regular dates throughout the year.

The Certificate in School Efficiency course takes two months and covers not only how efficiencies are made but also details the efficiency programmes that schools have introduced during recent years as a result of doing the course. Starting dates are 10th November 2014, 12th January 2015, 16th February 2015 and 16th March 2015.

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.

Finally there is the Certificate in Work Management course. This takes two months and covers time management, stress management and dealing with visitors. Next starting date 10th November and there will be another course starting on the 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
School of Educational Administration and Management

Mencap advice on how SENCos can best utilise teaching assistants

Mencap’s launch of the Inspired Educators scheme has helped to train over 1,500 teachers and SENCos on the effective deployment of teaching assistants to support pupils with SEN.

As a result, the charity is offering free training to raise awareness on how SENCos can make better use of teaching assistants to support the 1.8 million SEN pupils in the UK.

Mencap has partnered up with the Institute of Education and 6 Teaching Schools to make the programme a success and plans to offer free seminars across the country with the aim of reaching over 600 mainstream schools in England throughout the academic year.

Analyses into the initial training programme by Canterbury Christ Church University revealed that 70% of schools were already using teaching assistants to support their SEN pupils; however only 5.4% were confident that their teaching assistants were knowledgeable on the type of support each SEN pupil uniquely requires.

Manager of the Inspired Educators project by Mencap, Sandi Gatt, explained: “Teaching assistants are an important part of the education system, however students with SEN and learning disabilities deserve to be taught by a qualified teacher and included in classroom learning.

“And teaching professionals agree. They have told us that achieving inclusivity in education has the potential to improve educational outcomes for all children, not just those with SEN and a learning disability.

“The next phase of our work will raise awareness of the need for improved practices and will support schools to think more strategically about the preparation and deployment of their support staff. We will be focusing on the role of senior leadership in driving a whole-school approach to change. We cannot afford to ignore the difference that practical changes can make in significantly improving the quality of education for all children.”

Link to article: http://www.sec-ed.co.uk/news/free-training-on-using-teaching-assistants-to-support-sen-pupils/

There is more about the Inspired Educators scheme and a schedule of the 2014/15 seminar dates at: https://www.mencap.org.uk/inspired-educators
Tony Attwood
Director, School of Educational Management and Administration

Those missing tabs

Some issues are big, some appear small, but all have the potential to be annoying

From its inception it has been a rule of the School of Educational Administration and Management that we’ll answer, or pass on, all questions that are sent to us. We do this not just to be helpful, but also because our own experience is that what might seem a bit of trivia to one of us, may be an intractable and annoying problem to another.

Today’s question actually comes with a preamble suggesting that the issue might seem trivial – but for anyone suffering from the problem I can well imagine it is a real difficulty.

Here’s the issue as put to me by a reader of this newsletter:

“This may seem a silly question but can any of your readers recommend a make of suspension files which have tabs that actually stay on the file please. Our pupil filing system is a nightmare because all the name labels fall off! Any help with this matter would be appreciated!”

If you have an answer please just send it to my colleague Lucy@hamilton-house.com with the single word FILES in capitals in the subject line. Putting that subject line in will really help us sort the answers quickly.

Lucy will co-ordinate the responses and we’ll come back with the answer in a week or two. In the meanwhile if you have any questions that you would like to put to the readership of this newsletter, please do email ed.admin@schools.co.uk with the point you want to raise. For questions it would be helpful if you could simply write QUESTION in the subject line.

Many thanks

Tony Attwood

A free report on the most effective way of ensuring that the school office runs as efficiently as possible – without you having to do unpaid overtime

Research by the School of Educational Administration and Management has shown that over two thirds of school administrators are working unpaid overtime several days a week, each week of the school year.

Although most administrators are willing to do this, this situation is one that inevitably puts enormous strain both on staff and on the system they are seeking to keep going.

However, there is an administrative process which costs the school nothing, but which when undertaken can help alleviate the difficulties that many school offices face and reduce the level of stress that some administrators may feel.

This approach is described in the document “The most effective way of making the school office run smoothly by reducing the administrative overload” which has been produced by SEAM, primarily for administrators who are students on our School Efficiency and School Administration courses.

The report is available free of charge by email. If you would like a copy please simply email us with the text “SEAM Efficiency report – 14119” in the subject line.

If you would like to know more about the work of the SEAM and our courses there are details on www.admin.org.uk

If you have any enquiries please do call 01536 399 007.

Tony Attwood

The School of Educational Administration and Management was set up with government funding via the DTI, and with the support of the University of Northampton. Our address is
School of Educational Administration and Management
Hamilton House
Earlstrees Ct., Earlstrees Rd
Corby
Northants
NN17 4HH

The blog for bursars and administrators