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

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

 

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.

Tony Attwood

Chair, School of Educational Administration and Management

 

It is time for me to say goodbye – but only for a few weeks

Concerning these newsletters, I hope you’ve enjoyed bits, found bits interesting, and maybe even suggested to a colleague that he or she should read one or two bits.

If you’ve been with us for a while, you’ll know we don’t publish articles in the summer holiday, so this is the end of the line for a few weeks.  I do hope you have found our work of interest.

In case you want to go back and look at anything we’ve published, most of the articles are on the School Admin Blog at http://www.blog.admin.org.uk/   In fact there are quite a few years’ worth of articles there – just in case you’ve nothing to do!!!

Also on our website www.admin.org.uk there are lots and lots of articles covering all sorts of topics that have been brought up by readers of my ramblings across the years.

So – plenty to read.

I will be at my desk through the summer, so if you have any issues you want to discuss or any thoughts for things we should cover next term, please do get in touch.

If you are getting a break, have a lovely summer, and if not, do spare a moment to take a few deep breaths and contemplate the world at large.

Tony Attwood

Chair, The School of Education Administration and Management.

Tony@hamilton-house.com

What could you do to make your work at school more enjoyable for you and more beneficial for the school?

The answer to the question above depends on many things, including, of course, your own vision.

If you feel that there is nothing that can be done, then the chances are that there is nothing that can be done.  Unless, of course, you feel there might be a solution.

Likewise, if you’ve made suggestions for change but they have been rejected, or worse simply ignored, you might feel once again that nothing can be done.  Unless, of course, you can see a different way of asking, a different way of presenting the problem.

And that’s where the School of Educational Administration and Management starts from.  Our view is that all work situations can be changed, can be made more pleasant, and can be made more effective.

We also know that just because a suggestion for change is turned down when put in one way, that does not mean it will be turned down if put in another way.

The three courses we run through the SEAM are all about change – about how the processes of change within the school work, and how change and improvement can be brought about.  Even in circumstances where the school administrator is not listened to or noticed!

The solution invariably comes down to two factors:

1.  Whether you believe change is possible. That is not to say that you feel able to implement it, but whether you believe it could happen.  If you think there is no chance, then almost certainly it won’t happen.  But if you believe that change is always possible, if only one can find the right route, then it becomes possible.

2.  Whether you can find the right approach.  You might well have felt that it would be better if you could manage the volume of work entering the school office, or you could have an hour without interruption each morning to get vital issues resolved.  You might have tried time and time again to get teachers to complete their registers correctly, only to find the problem continues.  It is all very dispiriting, until you can find the right way to create and maintain change.

In a very real sense the three courses that the School of Educational Administration and Management runs are all based around these two issues.  The issues of showing that change is possible, and of helping those on the course find the right approach.

The three courses (all of which are taught via distance learning so there are no seminars to attend – but you do have your own tutor who will help you through the course) are described on our website – just click on the links to find out more:

The Certificate in School Efficiency (2 months)

The National Certificate in Educational Administration (1 year)

The Work Management and Administration Course (2 months)

If you have any questions about the courses please do drop an email to Sam@admin.org.uk or phone 01536 399 007.

Tony Attwood

Most agree: schools should have a constant ongoing plan to improve the efficiency of the school

In fact it is more than “most” who agree.   82% of school managers and administrators agree that schools should have a constant ongoing plan to improve the efficiency of the school.

While a small minority continue with the view that efficiency is either not an issue that should bother schools at all or that efficiency savings can be introduced when something is noticed, most now share the mainstream view of organisations across the UK – we have to think about efficiency all the time.

If you have been reading my ramblings off and on you’ll know where I stand on this – that efficiency is very much a part of the concern of schools, and that efficiency savings can’t be made just by noticing something.  The problem is that we all get used to the way things are and so don’t see inefficiencies, or simply dismiss the chance of doing anything about them because “that is the way things are.”

I’ve found the survey results very encouraging throughout, and we have now put them on the School Business, Management and Administration Week website.  The analysis of the survey results is here, and if you want to take in the new site from the start the home page is here.

If you have any thoughts about the site, particularly if you feel there is anything else that should be there, do let me know.  Remember the idea of the Week is that we have a website that is aimed at administrators and management equally, so that each side has the chance to understand each other’s position.  We shall be promoting its existence to headteachers, deputies, SBMs, etc, in the coming weeks and months.

I am also hoping that you, and your colleagues elsewhere in the school, will take particular note of the final piece of research – how work enters the school office and how the volume of that work is controlled.

If you suffer from constant overloads, you might like to tell some colleagues about that final findings.  Not all schools do it the same way!

Thanks very much to everyone who participated in the research.  My hope is that it really will have an impact.

Tony Attwood

Tony@hamilton-house.com

Is it really possible to make the school’s administration more effective and more efficient?

As you may know if you read my regular ramblings on issues relating to the way in which school administration and management work together, this weekly newsletter is sent to you courtesy of the School of Educational Administration and Management.

The SEAM has constantly promoted the notion that there are many different ways of running a school’s administration and management procedures, and that quite often it is difficult to see from within an organisation that there might be alternative ways of doing things.

In a very real sense this is at the heart of the courses that the SEAM runs, covering such issues as the efficiency and effectiveness of school administrations, time management, and ways of improving how the school administration works.

To take perhaps the most common issue we have dealt with – interruptions – these can be seen at one extreme as an inevitable consequence of what the school office is and what the school administration does.  But they can also be seen as something that can be dealt with and changed, to help make the office more effective and more efficient.

This was brought home to me with the story of a school which asked all parents to send in by email their requests for which after school clubs the pupils and students wanted to sign up for.

Despite this clear request many parents who had access to email continued to queue at the office window simply to hand over forms.  There were several explanations as to why they did this, including force of habit, a feeling that a paper form handed into the trusted school administrator was more likely to get to the right place, and even the fact that queuing at the office window was an opportunity to have a natter with fellow parents.

So the issue of improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the school office often doesn’t come down to inventing a new idea, but instead relates to what one does when the idea isn’t implemented.

A reform put to teachers or managers, or even one’s colleagues in the office, can result in a response that says, “I don’t like the sound of that” or a rejection for a reason that really has no basis in logic, and which relates to something that might happen, but rarely does.

Such blockages to good ideas can seem insurmountable at times, but quite often it is possible to overcome such objections.  For example, with the parents who continued to queue to hand in forms, all that was needed was for the next request for parents to use email, and not hand forms in, to say that email requests and requests placed in the “School Club Box” would be handled first, and that paper requests handed in at the window would only be processed after these had been dealt with.

Thus sometimes the solutions are very easy to implement. Each one might not utterly reduce the workload but each small step, when added together, can make a huge difference.

If these issues, and indeed the whole issue of making life in the school office, are of interest to you, you might well find one of the SEAMs courses of interest.  They are all conducted by distance learning so there are no seminars etc to attend, and they are all shown in detail on our website.

In the meanwhile, if you have any particular approaches which have really saved you time and made life in the office much easier, I would love to hear them.  As you may recall, we are launching a new project – the School Business, Management and Administration Week, via which we are attempting to persuade school management to re-think the way the school administration is used.

If you have any story that you would like to share with fellow administrators as to how you have made life easier in the school office, please do email me.  We won’t publish your name or your school name, but some real live examples would be very helpful.

Please email me at Tony@hamilton-house.com

Tony Attwood

Maynard Students enjoy spectacular Prom at Powderham Castle

The Upper 5 (Year 11) year group from the Maynard School in Exeter were treated to the most glamorous Prom at the illustrious Powderham Castle on Monday 27 June 2016. It was a grand celebration of the end of the academic year and a befitting reward following their recent gruelling GCSE examination period.

Owned by the Earl of Devon, the Castle dates back to 1390 and its stunning views over the River Exe provided the perfect backdrop on this wonderful occasion for these students.

“It was fabulous!” said outgoing Headmistress, Bee Hughes. “The sun came out and we all had a brilliant time. Moments such as these, as I enter a new phase of my life, are enduring and I hope they will also last forever in the memories of all the girls. They deserve a good celebration and they certainly got one!”

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

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