Can you spare three minutes to help us on the issue of school activities for increasing efficiency?

Five years ago the Coalition government claimed that through some fairly simple changes the average secondary school could save £100,000 a year, while the average primary school could save £25,000 a year.

Many people were a little doubtful, but we waited… and waited… for the Department for Education to come back and tell us all what had actually been achieved as a result of this initiative.

This year they have launched the Schools financial health and efficiency collection.

This programme doesn’t seem to report on whether the savings proclaimed five years ago have been achieved, nor really explore what has happened in the past five years.

So, as part of School Business, Management and Administration Week (which will take place early next term), we are trying to fill in the gaps by researching what is happening in terms of efficiency and money-saving planning in schools.

I’d be really grateful if you could spend a moment (it absolutely won’t take more than three minutes) answering our questionnaire – whether or not you or your colleagues have spent time thinking about ways of saving money or otherwise making the school more efficient.

There are only six questions on our questionnaire, but it really will help everyone understand how people like you, working in a school, feel about the issue of whether schools can be made more efficient and effective.

Or whether schools are already doing all that they can to balance budgets while maintaining the quality of teaching and learning.

To complete the questionnaire please just click here.

Results will be published on the School Business Management and Administration Week website which will be launched in the near future.

Tony Attwood
School Business Management and Administration Week.

Can efficiency reforms really save schools money? The answers to my enquiry

Earlier this month I wrote noting that it was now five years since the government put forward its paper discussing the issue of efficiency and money saving in schools.

As I mentioned, the government’s claims at the time were extraordinary including the notion that through some fairly simple changes the average secondary school could save £100,000 a year, while the average primary school could save £25,000 a year.

In essence the government’s plan was that schools should band together and approach suppliers and say, “We are now five schools working together and we are going to give this whole contract for the supply of envelopes (or whatever) to one firm. What can you offer?”

I wondered if this was happening and a couple of weeks ago asked readers to let me know of any developments in this field.

Normally when I ask such a question, I get a lot of replies, but the response in this case we just about the smallest ever. Here are extracts from three of the replies I got and after that details of another issue which I am currently following up, and which may perhaps prove useful to readers.

Example 1

… in the interest of trying to see if I was missing anything I took up the local authority’s offer of a purchasing audit and they found potential savings of around £100- 200 per year on my non personnel spend. Not quite what the government report said.

Example 2

… Because of our location and size we are part of a rural cluster and as such the SBM’s considered the options of bulk buying but the only time it seems to have effectively worked was with coach transport if two or more schools were attending the same event as long as numbers worked out conveniently.

In relation to energy this was done through a bulk purchasing scheme but arranged through the council on schools’ behalf although there was no requirement to opt-in if schools didn’t want to.  In relation to everything else it just didn’t seem to happen and for a variety of reasons including (but not exhaustive):

●       Schools used different suppliers and different products, even down to different types of class books in terms of size and colour;

●       Sometimes a change of product was required to provide consistency across schools in order to facilitate bulk buying which caused tensions and staff (both teaching and support) often complained that it led to products not always being equally matched or of similar quality to those currently used by them and so weren’t always happy to change product/supplier or resistant to the suggestion of change full stop – they liked using what they had always used (unless it was them suggesting the change!!);

●       partly because any savings made were usually offset by a higher delivery charge if the courier had to deliver to multiple sites – if the supplier only delivered to one site then it meant the other schools had to arrange staff to go and collect their items;

●       It wasn’t always possible to schedule order timings at a convenient time for all schools which could lead to either shortages or surplus stock which for the smaller schools had it’s own problems due to limited storage space available;

Example 3

Our school is part of a confederation made up of 19 schools.  The Business Manager network decided to look at bulk purchasing stationary and resources some 4 years ago.  Since then we have managed to make significant savings on paper, stationery and classroom resources etc.

In addition, CPD is being delivered at a significant reduced cost and more local to our schools, thus reducing not only our CPD budget but also our travel budget.

As a school, we have made significant savings across IT, energy, supply etc. by moving contracts or reviewing staff….

Example 4

In this final case I am not quoting directly from a response, because I was told about this on the phone, and I am seeking further information before I come back on this.

The issue relates to minibuses – something I have touched upon in the past.  It seems that some schools are working together with a minibus lease so that one school might have the bus for two days and the other three days, with each paying a proportion of the lease.

I’ve been told about this in terms of two smaller primary schools neither of which could take on a minibus on their own, combining in this way, and also of a primary and a secondary school, whereby the secondary needed a second minibus for part of the week, and the primary just needed it for two days a week.

As I say I am seeking to get more information on how this works, and when I have it I will report further.

Thanks to everyone who joined in the survey.

Tony Attwood

Tony@hamilton-house.com

Imagine that you could organise matters at work so that you had more time than ever before to get everything done.

For most school administrators, managing the demands of work coming in from a vast array of sources is a fundamental part of daily life.

For most administrators not working in schools, time management and stress management are issues that are taught as part of virtually every management or administration course they might take.

And yet only a tiny percentage of school administrators are ever offered a course in time or stress management.

And so it is to bring the benefits of time management and related subjects to more and more school administrators that the School of Educational Administration and Management introduced the Certificate in Management Practice course.

The course focuses on time management and two related topics – stress management and dealing with school visitors – all within the context of the work of a school administrator.

School administrators who have completed this short course tell us they found it incredibly helpful, as it enables them to look at their work and consider different ways of managing it so as to reduce stress and yet get more done in the available time.

The course lasts approximately 2 months and is taught by distance learning. We recommend that students allow themselves 4 hours a week study time.

We are accepting applications for the next intake on this course, start date 14/11/2016 (closing date for applications 07/11/2016).  There is more information on our website

You can also call us on 01536 399007 or email Sam@admin.org.uk

Tony Attwood

Chair, School of Educational Administration and Management

“During the safety briefing on every plane journey adults are reminded that, in case of an emergency, they are to secure their own oxygen masks before they help their children fit theirs”

A recent article in the Guardian uses this idiom (above) to highlight just how important it is for teachers to look after their own needs before looking after the needs of their students.

The article comes following the analyses of figures from a recent NASUWT survey which has revealed that worries about teacher workload has seen 67% of teachers state that their job had adversely impacted on their mental or physical health.

As a result, The Guardian has put together five things that teachers can do to help them to improve their work-life balance and overall health. You can read the full article at http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2016/jun/05/teachers-five-ways-to-boost-mental-health-mindfulness

I very rarely do this but it seems relevant here to mention a book that is published by one of the companies owned by Hamilton House (the company that brings you this newsletter).

First and Best in Education have published a book entitled “Recovery from stress: a school manager’s guide to helping colleagues” which examines in detail many of the personal problems faced by teachers: assertiveness, low self-esteem, lack of self-belief, depression, a lack of coping strategies.

The volume also looks at the sources of stress and then details the possible solutions, such as anxiety management, problem solving, relaxation techniques, etc. The book helps school managers who don’t suffer from excessive stress to understand what their colleague under stress is going through and to see how she or he can be helped.

“Recovery from stress: a school manager’s guide to helping colleagues” also includes a set of templates relating to the school’s policy on stress and a risk assessment programme and details on the various ways schools and individuals can overcome stress and reduce stress levels.

You can buy the book as a photocopiable ring bound book or on CD Rom at http://shop.firstandbest.co.uk/product_info.php?products_id=391

Lucy Mister
Hamilton House Mailings Ltd

Does your school have a regular programme for increasing efficiency?

Five years ago the Coalition government claimed that through some fairly simple changes the average secondary school could save £100,000 a year, while the average primary school could save £25,000 a year.

Many people were a little doubtful, but we waited… and waited… for the Department for Education to come back and tell us all what had actually been achieved as a result of this initiative.

Unfortunately the DfE has not returned to this theme, and so we have never had a report as to whether such savings have been achieved.

Now, as part of School Business, Management and Administration Week (which will take place early next term), we are returning to this theme with research on what is happening in terms of efficiency and money-saving planning in schools.

I’d be really grateful if you could spend a moment answering our questionnaire – whether or not you or your colleagues have spent time thinking about ways of saving money or otherwise making the school more efficient.

There are only six questions on our questionnaire; it will only take a couple of minutes to complete, but it really will help everyone understand how people like you, working in a school, feel about the issue of whether schools can be made  more efficient and effective or whether schools are doing all that they can to balance budgets while maintaining the quality of teaching and learning.

To take the questionnaire please just click here.

I’ll come back with the figures from the survey in the near future.

Tony Attwood

Five years ago the government stated that schools could save money through efficiency reforms. So what happened?

It is now five years since the government put forward its first, and so far only, paper discussing the issue of efficiency and money saving in schools.

The government’s claims at the time were extraordinary, including the notion that through some fairly simple changes the average secondary school could save £100,000 a year, while the average primary school could save £25,000 a year.

Many people were a little doubtful, but we waited… and waited… for the Department for Education to come back and tell us all what had actually been achieved as a result of this initiative.

Unfortunately the DfE has not returned to this theme, and so we have never had a report as to whether such savings have been achieved.

It seems to me all very strange that this idea should come to the fore and then, just as quickly, vanish. And so in the near future the School of Educational Administration and Management will be sending out a questionnaire to see just what has happened in the intervening five years over the issue of efficiency in purchasing – and indeed other areas of efficiency in management and administration.

But I wonder if any schools really did take notice of the government’s pronouncement five years ago.

In essence the government’s plan was that schools should band together and approach suppliers and say, “We are now five schools working together and we are going to give this whole contract for the supply of envelopes (or whatever) to one firm.  What can you offer?”

If your school has done this (or is indeed considering doing this) could you let me know, with any details that you can divulge. I won’t reveal anything in a future newsletter that can identify your school or your arrangements – if I do return to the subject it will be in the most general of terms.

If you do have any thoughts on this, please do drop me a line to Tony@hamilton-house.com  and write Bulk Buying in the subject line.

Tony Attwood

What makes one school office more efficient than another? And how can you tell if your office really is efficient?

Efficiency is one of those very strange things that are hard to see and harder still to judge.  How do you know if something that you are doing is as efficient as it could be?

And anyway, why should one bother with efficiency?  You are, of course, not deliberately wasting time, and the school doesn’t have any money to make changes.  What are you going to save if you make some small change to your office routine?

However, those administrators who do investigate efficiency invariably do find the difference it can make is huge.   Some who find that they are becoming increasingly overburdened with work find themselves suddenly with an extra hour a day.  Others just find the entire working day is more pleasant because there is less hassle.

It might be because they change the way parental requests are handled, the way that photocopying is done, or simply the way in which incoming emails are handled.

It could be that there are one or two teachers in the school who are not perfect at getting their register completed and who cause you to spend time resolving such issues.

Whatever the problem, these matters can be solved – but they have to be approached in the right way.

A lot of the administrators who take the Certificate in School Efficiency distance learning course find that even though they have focussed on one or two areas of efficiency before, and perhaps have been rebuffed in their attempts to change procedures, they are now able to resolve the whole situation.

In short two months part-time study changes their entire approach to the way things can be run in schools.

You can find a lot more information about the course, how it works, and how it will benefit you, on the School of Educational Administration website.

If you have any particular questions please do call us on 01536 399 007 or email me: Sam@admin.org.uk

Samantha Bates

Director, School of Educational Administration and Management

Imagine that everyone involved in your school’s administration unfortunately went off sick – all at once. What would happen?

We know what happens when one or more teachers are away from work. Most likely a supply teacher steps in.

But what would happen if everyone who handles administration in the school was away sick?

(OK that “everyone” might just be you – but whether you have an admin team of one or ten people, I am inviting you to imagine them all going off sick at once.)

Although there are temp agencies that can send in administrators, this generally isn’t much help in a school, because school systems tend to be unique to the school.

So there is a huge amount of work piling up, and there is no one available to show the temps the ropes. Which leaves the question, what exactly would happen?

There is SIMS to be operated, the post to be deal with, meetings to be minuted, the phone to be answered, the registers and dinner money to be sorted, the emails to be checked, parental enquiries to be handled, records to be filed and retrieved, bills to be paid, photocopying to be done…

Of course, all this work has to be done – but sometimes even small, simple changes to the way administration is organised can make a huge difference which makes the entire school run much more smoothly when everyone is present, and makes it possible to cope more readily if someone is absent.

The hundreds of administrators who have taken the School of Educational Administration and Management one year “Certificate in Educational Administration” distance learning course have found that above everything it is a practical course related to making administration run more smoothly.

During the year of the course, administrators nominate two or three new skills that they will acquire, they consider and apply School Efficiency programmes, and study such issues as managing their own work, time management, stress management, dealing with visitors, and a lot more.

If you would like to know more about the SEAM’s one year distance learning Certificate in Educational Administration course you’ll find all the information you need on our web site.

You can also call us on 01536 399007 or email Sam@admin.org.uk  The next starting date is 17th October 2016 and applications need to be received by 10th October 2016.

Tony Attwood

Chair, School of Educational Administration and Management

What makes one school office more efficient than another? And how can you tell if your office really is efficient?

Efficiency is one of those very strange things that are hard to see and harder still to judge.  How do you know if something that you are doing is as efficient as it could be?

And anyway, why should one bother with efficiency?  You are, of course, not deliberately wasting time, and the school doesn’t have any money to make changes.  What are you going to save if you make some small change to your office routine?

However, those administrators who do investigate efficiency invariably do find the difference it can make is huge.   Some who find that they are becoming increasingly overburdened with work find themselves suddenly with an extra hour a day.  Others just find the entire working day is more pleasant because there is less hassle.

It might be because they change the way parental requests are handled, the way that photocopying is done, or simply the way in which incoming emails are handled.

It could be that there are one or two teachers in the school who are not perfect at getting their register completed and who cause you to spend time resolving such issues.

Whatever the problem, these matters can be solved – but they have to be approached in the right way.

A lot of the administrators who take the Certificate in School Efficiency distance learning course find that even though they have focussed on one or two areas of efficiency before, and perhaps have been rebuffed in their attempts to change procedures, they are now able to resolve the whole situation.

In short two months part-time study changes their entire approach to the way things can be run in schools.

You can find a lot more information about the course, how it works, and how it will benefit you, on the School of Educational Administration website.

If you have any particular questions please do call us on 01536 399 007 or email me: Sam@admin.org.uk

Samantha Bates

Director, School of Educational Administration and Management

The views of educators and GPs concerning the issue of poor mental health among young people are two of a kind and one of the same.

The results of a survey conducted by stem4, a charity that works to prevent mental ill health in teenagers, has revealed a consensus among GPs and educators in England on the issue of poor mental health among young people aged between 11 and 18.

It was found that 78% of GPs have witnessed an increase in the number of young patients they see suffering from poor mental health compared to five years ago, with 63% reporting that they had seen a patient with an addiction, 89% reporting that they had seen a patient with an eating disorder, and 97% reporting that they had seen a patient with depression in the last five years.

Furthermore, 97% of GPs have also seen a young person who self-harms in the past five years, with 61% reporting that they see more cases of self-harm among young people now, than they did five years ago.

However, the survey also revealed that 36% of GPs who have received specialist training to support young patients dealing with self-harm said that they don’t believe their training to be adequate as they don’t feel confident in their abilities.

Moreover, half of GPs surveyed said that they had received no specialist training.

As for their thoughts on the mental health services available to young people, with the rise in cases of young people suffering from poor mental health 87% expect pressure on services to increase.

As a result 90% of GPs fear that young people suffering from poor mental health may come to harm while waiting for specialist treatment – a waiting list which comes as a result of a lack of funding, specialist training, and access to services.

To elaborate further, 76% of GPs said that the funding for mental health services for young people is already above and beyond the amount that was initially promised to be adequate to improve such services. 54% reported that specialist training on young people’s mental health was necessary. And 56% said that they would like to see a complete overhaul of mental health service provision.

Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Founder of stem4, Dr Nihara Krause, commented:

“Young people’s mental health services are at crisis point. GPs are having to cope with the consequences of our failure to focus on prevention, and a lack of access to specialist services. We may not be able to change the world we have created for our young people, but we need to take action to ensure that help is available when they need it. GPs are at the forefront of addressing this crisis and they need far more support.

“The increase in mental ill health among our young people is exacerbated by our trophy culture. They are under enormous pressure to succeed in every way, not only at school where they are constantly tested and graded, but also by endeavouring to gain social cachet by competing to be ‘followed’ and ‘liked’ on social media.”

In response to the findings, stem4 will be hosting a conference on 22 June to provide GPs with the latest information on dealing with poor mental health among young people.

You can read the full report entitled “A Time Bomb Waiting to Explode” at http://www.stem4.org.uk/images/downloads/a_time_bomb_waiting_to_explode
_stem4_press_release.pdf

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All today’s educational news stories appear on www.ukeducationnews.co.uk – the free news service for UK schools. 

Lucy Mister
Hamilton House Mailings Ltd

The blog for bursars and administrators