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Thought Leadership Cutting costs, not standards

Groupcall’s Sales and Marketing Director, Stuart Abrahams, tells Education Today how SLTs can run their schools like well-oiled machines, simply by revising how they use technology


ccording to the Department for Education (DfE), schools collectively spend £9.3 billion each year on products and services. However, with a little business acumen and smart procurement practices, significant savings can be made and reinvested into key priorities such as teaching and learning. With this in mind, Senior Leadership Teams (SLTs) are being encouraged to don their business hats and run their schools accordingly; they need to ensure that all spending is not only justified but a sound investment aimed at enhancing the learning and teaching processes. This has resulted in many SLTs regularly monitoring the return of investment (ROI) of educational tools.

Technology is the key

How many of us have been left open-mouthed whilst a ten year old IT whizz-kid figures out what the error message on our PC means, or why our smartphone seems to be frozen for no apparent reason? Probably most of us. Why is it that children seem to breeze through IT tasks that leave some adults stumped? Today’s children naturally gravitate towards and have an interest in technology, because it permeates every aspect of the digital world they were born in to. Many experts believe that a successful learning experience is achieved by engaging children with their school and education and by fostering strong parental interaction. Technology provides the ideal way for schools to do this. Cutting back on high-cost technological resources is often a school’s knee-jerk reaction to reduce spending, however they should continue to improve their technology offerings in order to engage these 21st Century, tech-savvy students.

Inventory time!

More often than not, only the very basic functions of a technology solution are utilised by schools with the full suite of capabilities rarely explored to their full extent. Therefore, before a school even

thinks about investing in new technologies, it is important that it evaluates what it already has. Schools need to ensure that their teachers, administrators and students receive relevant training on all the implemented technologies. Schools should request training from suppliers, who in turn should be more than happy to provide the right level of service as part of the package.

In addition to existing technologies, schools should consider investing in parental communication technologies, if they haven’t already done so. The UK Government has identified that parental engagement plays a significant role in equipping young people with the skills and knowledge required for a well- rounded future and has implemented recommendations for schools to adhere to in order to fully involve parents in their child’s education.

Generation appY

Generation Y are tech-savvy millenials and while many schools are still dubious about the use of phones and mobile devices in class, this technology is prevalent among the younger generation. It makes sense for schools to capitalise on this fact and use these devices as a means of communication where necessary. There are apps currently on the market designed specifically to link with iPhones to improve ICT in the classroom. These deliver real time data instantly and securely, with access on an ‘anytime, anywhere’ basis. Some are designed specifically for senior leaders, administrators and teaching staff at both primary and secondary level, providing them with access to on-the-go key data from a compact mobile device. Equipping teachers with a tool that gives them immediate access to the information they require (student and parental contact details, timetables, attendance and behavioural data), is not only beneficial in terms of significantly lowering a


school’s administrative costs but also encourages increased time management efficiency.

Real ROIs

Set against the backdrop of budgetary restraints, ‘procurement’, ‘ROI’ and ‘efficiency’ are fast becoming buzz-words within the education sector. Understandably, saving money and cutting administrative time rank high on the priority list for most schools.

In an attempt to meet these objectives, Kevin Smith, Assistant Head, Rush Croft Sports College, London, opted to trial our parental communication system, integrated with an intuitive app, which has revealed a multitude of additional administrative benefits for the school. Kevin comments: “As a specialist sports college, we initially just wanted to be able to take registration on the go, to improve efficiency further. We quickly realised however, that implementing the system had a positive trickle- down effect which saw improvements made in many other areas. The more we explored the issue of ‘saving time’, the more we realised that there were more processes we could improve. “While the benefits cannot always be measured in monetary terms, the administrative time we have saved, the increased internal efficiency and accuracy and the overall improvement, we have witnessed within simply cannot be overlooked. Therefore, without hesitation, I would say that we have certainly shown a positive ROI.”

SLTs are managing an increasingly smaller pot of funds, but in addition to a focus on providing quality, schools need to invest in effective business management and ensure that every penny spent makes good financial sense and that even the smallest of investments stretch a long way.

Being smart when it comes to technology is crucial for a school to maintain a solid financial footing.

May 2013

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