15th January 2020
Lorraine Smith, Divisional Managing Director at Civica explores how using cloud software to automate your school’s management processes can have a positive impact in the classroom and on pupils’ health and wellbeing
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 too much time and money is spent on financial, HR and catering tasks. So, how can schools leverage technology to automate school management and help improve pupil outcomes?
1. Financial transformation
Having more efficient financial management processes frees up budget and time that can then be spent supporting students. Specifically, cloud software can help automate financial administration by:
- Streamlining purchasing processes, resulting in fewer errors, queries and adjustments.
- Reducing cost per order
- Accurately predicting future income and expenditure, facilitating better budget allocation
- Assisting with statutory and legislative reports
Multi-academy trusts stand to benefit the most. As centralised purchasing is easier to manage across multiple sites, schools can get bulk-buying discounts, and consolidate finance data using a single database.
2. Better catering
Through an effective cloud-based cashless catering system, schools can help to increase take-up of school meals (by reducing queues) and give pupils valuable social time during lunch hour.
Cloud also enables better access to data on pupils’ dietary requirements and eating habits, safeguarding those children who have allergies. Parents have more visibility over what their child has eaten leading to healthy eating conversations at home. Schools can even use data from their own canteens to bring the curriculum to life, making health education relevant and relatable.
Staff retention is an issue faced by all schools. In 2018, reports showed that the five-year retention rate had dropped for the fifth consecutive year, to 67.7%. In addition, research from The Education Policy Institute found that 70% of school budgets is spent on staff costs, reducing the amount that can be spent on pupils.
Implementing effective HR and payroll cloud-based technology can therefore have several benefits for schools:
- Improving training and performance monitoring, such as tracking CPD development objectives
- Reducing the need for supply teachers and upskilling existing staff – both of which can improve pupils’ experiences
- Spotting trends and patterns in staff absences to enable early intervention
4. Reduced administrative burden
Integrated online payments can help reduce time spent chasing debt for meals, trips, and uniforms. Sophisticated online systems can now accept payments in multiple ways and set top-up limits so that children don't run out of funds, resulting in fewer delays and avoiding embarrassment at lunchtimes.
Parental engagement can also be improved via the cloud, reducing the number of calls and visits and allowing staff to focus on tasks which deliver 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 make school management much faster, better, and more innovative.
With technology innovations happening all the time, it’s easy to see how improved school management can have a positive impact on both employee workload and pupil outcomes. Taking advantage of the cloud now can make it easier and more cost-effective for schools to adopt new technology in the future.