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

Build upwards not outwards

A study conducted by TES has revealed that large numbers of local authority-run schools are being forced to build into their playground space to accommodate the increasing number of pupils.

The study surveyed 957 primary schools from 82 local authorities who have had to expand their school building to accommodate the additional pupils. Out of these schools, the survey revealed that 102 (10.65%) are increasing the amount of playground space, 520 (54.33%) are keeping their outdoor space the same and 335 (35%) schools are having to build additional classrooms on the playground, thus reducing the amount of outdoor space available for the children.

Campaigners are unhappy about the research results as they say it shows that the government are making too many exceptions to their own guidelines aimed at protecting pupils’ outdoor space and limiting the number of schools building on playgrounds.

Juno Hollyhock, Executive Director of Learning through Landscapes, an outdoor learning and play charity, explained that the government should be encouraging schools to build upwards rather than outwards into the pupils’ playing areas.

A spokesman for the Department for Education has defended: “We have brought in new regulations to make it harder for councils and schools to build new classrooms on their playing fields.

“They must apply directly to us for permission and our rules make clear that this should only be a last resort where there is a pressing need for new school places. We consider each case on its merits and permission will only be given if councils and schools satisfy us that suitable space is available so children can still play outside.”

Link to article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10991070/Primary-schools-build-over-playgrounds-to-accommodate-rising-pupil-numbers.html
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The School Procurement Site (www.top5.org.uk) is a free listing of hundreds of UK school products and suppliers, with details of numerous free resources, divided up by subject area. There are also links to their websites in each case.

Tony Attwood
Hamilton House Mailings Ltd

The problem with parents

Have you ever suffered from abuse from a parent, guardian or similar person, either on the phone, or through a personal visit?

I have had a number of comments from both senior managers and from school administrators who work on the reception desks in schools suggesting that the level of abusive encounters with parents has risen noticeably in recent years.

The evidence I have thus far is purely incidental, consisting of comments that readers of our various Education Management News emails have made when writing in about another issue. But I would like to get a clearer idea of the situation.

With this in mind I have prepared a very simple questionnaire which will take just a couple of minutes to fill in which asks a few questions about this issue. It will be relevant to you if you receive parents at the office or take phone calls from parents. If you could find a moment to complete it I would be very grateful.

The questionnaire does not ask for your school name, email or any other details, and will simply to used to help get a feeling of whether the problem of abuse is growing or not.

I will then circulate the findings from the questionnaire, and I will then also see if we can devise some recommendations and ideas on how members of the school can be best protected from abuse at this level. As always, I’m not in any way trying to suggest I can tell you how to run things – rather, as with our earlier reports on the smooth running of the school office, these are just suggestions which you might on occasion find helpful.

Link to questionnaire https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/abusivebehaviour

Many thanks

Tony Attwood

Tony@schools.co.uk

How can two schools be so different?

Two school administrations. Both set in very similar schools, each with a very similar social background.

One is a happy, coordinated team whose workload is always managed without recourse to any overtime.

The other is a place where there never seems to be enough time to cover all the work, and where, sad to say, some colleagues suffer a rather high level of stress.

Both schools have dedicated, well-motivated staff. Both are well-run schools. But there is a key difference between them, a key issue that determines whether life within the school’s management and administration is a readily manageable and pleasant job or is ultimately overwhelming.

That key issue is quite simply whether anyone has considered the school office and the way it works, and has then worked through some simple changes which can make the world of difference.

If there has been serious consideration as to how the school administration and management works, then there is every chance that it will run ever more efficiently and effectively. Where school management is simply allowed to evolve to solve each new issue in turn, there is less chance that it is running as efficiently as possible.

In fact, a fair number of schools do allow the school admin to evolve over time, and, as a result, as a survey by the School of Educational Administration and Management revealed, over two thirds of school administrators are regularly involved in unpaid overtime but are not involved in devising an efficiency programme to reduce their workload.

Likewise a fair number of schools have no management system to control the amount of work being given to the school office at any particular time. Those schools which do are invariably able to change systems and processes in order to make the work much more manageable.

Also of interest is the fact that most schools that have an administration that is working without the need for unpaid overtime have processes in place to manage the level of interruption that the school office faces. Those which rely on overtime tend to view that interruptions are part of school office life and nothing can be done to reduce them.

It is to look at and resolve issues like these that the SEAM was set up 10 years ago with government funding and the support of the University of Northampton.

Since then we have developed our three courses all of which are taught totally via distance learning. The courses are…

The Certificate in School Efficiency course. This 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 15 Sept, 13 October, 10 November, 12 January.

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 13 October.

The Certificate in Management Practice. This takes two months, and covers time management, stress management and dealing with visitors. Next starting date is 10 November.

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

 

 

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