Admin / Finance (16)
Information stored by schools has a fairly fixed working life - but relevant data may be required to be held for a considerable period after a particular student has left the school. This can be for all sorts of purposes, including confirmation of attainment and a whole host of legal matters. Obviously, this means that there is a considerable storage burden which is borne by the final school which a given student has attended – a burden which may persist for many years, in some cases until the former student has reached 30 years of age.
What the law says
Two key pieces of legislation come into play with regard to the long term retention of student files (and any other information generated by the school).
The protection of information relating to children is clearly a key responsibility, yet it is an obligation that is shrouded in layers of legislation.
It is tempting to think that locking away your information and restricting access is the best way forward but this can slow down and frustrate day-to-day work. Some information, such as medical records, must be both quickly available and restricted only to those who need to see it. It is therefore paramount that information access and security are considered together and in balance.
Save time. Save money.
Top of the list of reasons is the prospect of saving both time and money in moving to an asset management software solution. A dedicated system can have big financial benefits for schools and academies – making sure the budget is used for providing pupils with an excellent education, instead of paying for excess overheads.
An automated asset management system dramatically frees up time across the board for the school’s IT, finance and admin staff. Manual asset counts usually fall to the ICT department which is responsible for managing a portfolio of high value equipment. Eliminating the repetitive task of locating and tracking software, laptops, etc, will save an ICT technician significant man hours. Additionally, the time saved in managing capital depreciation, insurance claims, procurement planning and budget forecasting, lets the whole management team focus resources where they really count.
Information is generally accepted to be a key asset in any organisation and should be managed with the same care as more tangible assets such as money, buildings and classroom equipment. Effective information management is all about keeping information secure and getting it to the right people at the right time. The IRMS toolkit rightly states that an information audit is a key step to achieving these aims.
What is an Information Audit?
Simply put, the information audit is a survey of the records being used and held by the organisation. It’s a structured process of finding out what you have, where it is kept and how it is used. The IRMS toolkit suggests a step-by-step process which encompasses the same principles that Arena has used extensively in both the education and wider public/commercial sectors.
The Information and Records Management Society (IRMS) curates a regularly updated “Records Management Toolkit” written specifically to assist UK public sector schools in their compliance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000. In a series of articles, Arena Group’s Neil Maude looks at the practical application of the principles described in this toolkit, using his 20+ years of experience in the provision of document management solutions within and outside of the education sector.
Is there really a need?
Before we get into the detail of records management and the practical elements of implementing a policy, there is a fairly obvious first question to ask. Most schools have been around for a while – some for a very long while – and already have processes in place to manage documents in line with legislation and sector best practice. So is there really a need to change?
The School Information (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2012 doesn’t mean a great deal to most English schools but it should. In April this year the Government released a directive that schools must publish certain information on their school website from the 1st September 2012. It will be the first stop for OFSTED before they inspect your school. But what if you don’t have a website? Schools will need to ensure they have the facility to publish the specified content online and that staff can maintain the content.
This post will detail all the information that you will need to publish and where to find it.
When a small, free-standing prep school merges with a much larger school or group, the greatest challenge is winning over the “hearts and minds” of the key interest groups.
The Governors of a small, free-standing prep school (or the owners in the case of a proprietorial school) are in all likelihood all too aware of their predicament. Governors often feel the weight of history. They are bound by the tradition that they received, and have a duty, within what is possible, to ensure that the school is passed on to their successors in good shape. Inevitably some will see merger as a failure on their part; others will take the pragmatic view that it is the only way to see the school move forward. The danger here is that they can all too often hesitate and not seize the moment before them.
With 2,300 pupils, Bolton School is one of the largest independent day schools in the country. Two similar adjoined buildings house the Boys’ and Girls’ Senior Schools, and there are separate junior departments for boys and girls, an infant school and a nursery. Our network infrastructure consists of: more than 1300 workstations, notepads and laptops; a VOIP system including around 250 handsets; interactive whiteboards in the majority of classrooms; 150 projectors; over 200 printers, scanners and multifunction devices; and 100 switches, routers and wireless access points.
Needless to say, all this equipment consumes a considerable amount of energy and has significant maintenance and running costs. Yet at Bolton School, we are determined to increase our energy efficiency and to reduce our carbon emissions and use of consumables. And despite the complexity and scale of the school's use of technology, we have found that, with the right technologies and initiatives, it is possible to make changes that greatly reduce costs and energy consumption, while improving IT infrastructure.
For today’s schools, sustainability should entail far more than being green.
As well as being environmentally aware when selecting ICT, schools need to ensure that their equipment is built to last in order to save on their finances as well as electronic waste.
In the face of budget squeezes and a lack of investment, choosing sustainable ICT is essential to ensure that schools are ICT ready for the long run and that pupils do not miss out.
So, how can schools ensure that their ICT is sustainable?
How can we commission services better in our school? This article explains the commissioning cycle, passes on tips on effective commissioning, and links to the Commissioning Support Programme and DfE guidance.
What is commissioning?
The Commissioning Support Programme (CSP) defines strategic commissioning as follows:
Commissioning is the process for deciding how to use the total resource available for children, young people, parents and carers in order to improve outcomes in the most efficient, effective, equitable and sustainable way.