In every school, the back office provides the administrative backbone to the teaching and learning experiences of pupils. However, lack of efficient processes can mean that more time and money is spent on financial, HR and catering tasks than should be – resources which could benefit pupils in the classroom instead.
Although we may traditionally associate classroom technology with improving outcomes, here are four ways in which better school management can also have an impact.
1. Streamlined financial management processes
Having more efficient financial management processes can free up budget and time that can then be spent supporting students. In particular, cloud software can help automate financial administration so that:
- Purchasing processes are streamlined, resulting in fewer errors, queries and adjustments
- Cost per order is reduced with fewer people involved in the purchasing process
- Future income and expenditure can be more accurately predicted, helping you to allocate budget more effectively
- Statutory and legislative reports can be easily completed, saving time that can be diverted elsewhere across the school
An automated financial management process can also benefit multi-academy trusts. As centralised purchasing is easier to manage across multiple sites, schools can benefit from bulk-buying discounts, and finance data from multiple sites can be held in a single database which reduces time spent on re-keying data and improving the reporting process.
2. A more efficient lunchtime service
In 2018 the Government set a target of halving childhood obesity by 2030. According to NHS data, only 18% of children have the recommended five or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day, which is something that schools can help to encourage through an effective cloud-based cashless catering system.
Reducing the use of cash helps deliver an efficient lunchtime service. This means that pupils are more likely to get served without having to queue, which can help to increase take-up of school meals and give pupils valuable social time.
It’s also easier for schools to access data on pupils’ dietary requirements and eating habits, robustly safeguarding those children who have allergies. Parents can have more visibility over what their child has eaten, which can encourage healthy eating conversations at home. Schools can even use data from their own canteens to bring the curriculum to life, helping make health education relevant and relatable.
3. Keep your best teachers
Staff retention is an issue faced by all schools. In 2018 the Department for Education revealed that the five-year retention rate for teachers who qualified in 2013 had dropped to 67.7%, compared to 68.5% in the previous year; the fifth consecutive year that the rate has worsened. In addition, research from The Education Policy Institute has found that 70% of school budgets is spent on staff costs, which reduces the amount that can be spent on pupils.
Implementing effective HR and payroll cloud-based technology in schools can therefore have several benefits:
- By taking care of training and performance monitoring, schools can recruit the right people, track their CPD to make sure that development objectives are met and therefore increase job satisfaction and retention
- Reduce the need for supply teachers and existing staff can be upskilled – both of which can improve pupils’ experiences
- Spotting trends and patterns in staff absences allows for early intervention and can have an impact on both points above
4. Reduced burden on admin
Integrated online payments can help reduce the administrative time spent chasing parental arrears for meals, trips, and uniforms. Sophisticated online systems can now accept payments in multiple ways and set automatic top-up limits so that children don’t run out of funds, resulting in fewer delays and avoiding embarrassment at lunchtimes.
Parental communication and engagement can also be improved via the cloud, reducing the amount of visits to the office and allowing staff to focus on the tasks which have more value to pupil outcomes.
While edtech tends to focus on technology which directly enhances teaching, these points are just a few ways in which technology outside the classroom can help schools and trusts support pupils more effectively. Cloud software makes school management processes better, faster, and more innovative – and taking advantage of the cloud now can make it easier and more cost-effective for schools to adopt the latest technology in the future.
With innovations in cloud, automation and mobile software happening all the time, it’s easy to see how improved school management can have a positive impact on both the workload of admin employees and the health, wellbeing and educational outcomes of pupils.