Recently I asked if any readers of this newsgroup would care to let me know of any recent innovation that they have made in their school.
There was no prize offered, no grading of results… I was just interested to see what might be said, and I must say that I have been stunned by the results.
I’ve selected five innovations that came my way – but for colleagues who sent me an entry which isn’t here, that’s no reflection on what you wrote. I really did get a bumper collection through and I’ve tried to select a small group which reflects the diversity of the replies.
I have slightly edited some of the replies, but hopefully have not lost any of the sense.
Around 5 years ago we introduced the ‘RED POST BOX’ which is in reception. Above the box are little envelopes & pens. We take nothing at the hatch, we tell all parents to put whatever it is in ‘the red box please’. This works really well for us and we empty the box around 10am, when the registers have been checked and all children are accounted for. We then have time to sort out & deal with the many reply slips, residential payments, day trips, football slips etc. etc.
It’s not perfect but it works for us.
When I joined the school several years ago as the Head’s PA, I struggled with the filing system. All files were manila and often with overseas students it was difficult to know gender so I adopted a system of Pink folders for girls and Blue for boys. A simple change but has made such a difference, particularly when trying to locate a file. It definitely saves a lot of time. This has now been adopted all over the school.
We introduced school money in January 2016 and it has been fantastic, because we run before and after school and also nursery wraparound we were taking £3k-£4k per week this has saved time and more importantly the usual from parents which was “I have paid” when we know they had not.
Definitely worth looking at for schools that take large amounts of money every week.
Everything is now paid on line including trips, clubs, residentials.
Have gone cashless as a result. Saving time with dinner money, collating trip money / consent forms. Just about over the initial extra work in supporting parents (who needed it) activating their accounts and familiarisation with new system.
I have helped in rolling out a new In App service for the school – we are pushing hard to get parents to sign up to the app by pushing its benefits hard to parents… i.e.
They can view their children’s attendance and behaviour
Messaging to the school is instant and free (as long as it’s covered in their data plan!)
Messaging FROM school is free – we save 6p per message sent via the App (1200 families can mount up pretty quickly!)
School puts loads of useful information for parents on the app which links into oher applicatons.
We’re constantly pushing the service to parents right now and have almost 500 users to date (the most of any school signed up for their service) – our aim is for 800 (or 2/3) minimum in the school. Our reception staff ask parents if they have the app, Heads of Year do the same when meeting with parents and I attend Parent’s Evenings handing out cards and preaching the virtues of the system.
The parents that have signed up for it think it’s great, and it also has improved our accountability as particularly attendance information has improved. Also it has made a (small) impact on behaviour as student realise that their parents can see when they’ve received consequences.
I have had to maintain a driving force behind this, as you say these things drop off after a few weeks as the old habits come back in, but it is having a good effect and numbers are rising slowly as word gets around. The perfect world would be all families on the app thereby saving the school thousands a year in communications costs – but we live in the real world and feel that 2/3 of parents would be a pretty good result.
The last point here is, I think, a very important one. Innovating always has three parts – introducing the new approach, persuading people to do it, and then persuading people to keep doing it.
People will change – but only when they are encouraged to do so, in a way that they feel is acceptable.
Many thanks to everyone who joined in this little experiment. I hope everyone found it interesting.