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Working Smarter in Schools to Improve Productivity

The economic ‘productivity gap’ is high on the agenda with numerous financial commentators lamenting the dismal comparisons of the UK with other economies. And with the funding squeeze on the schools, minds are focussing on improving productivity in schools and ‘doing more with less’.

Of course, in schools educational productivity is a more elusive concept, more akin to a wider dictionary definition (yielding favourable, abundant and useful results) rather than the stark ‘input versus output’ financial, economic definition.

But can improving the economic productivity in schools impact on the educational productivity ?

Can we liberate teachers from mundane day-to-day tasks giving them more educationally productive time with pupils?  And school administrators….how can we streamline their work so they can focus on school development and strategy to improve educational productivity.?

And what about the impact on parents? Can we improve productivity whilst striving to make every ‘touch point’ with the school positive to improve their engagement with the educational journey ?

I’d like to present some findings revealed through our working with schools on our eeZeeTrip project where we’ve seen economic productivity gains impacting on educational productivity.

The project started out with a simple request from the Head Teacher at Ysgol Cae Top in Bangor, Gwynedd for a better way of gathering consent from parents for school trips. We’ve all experienced that endless paper chase of permission slips, letters stuffed in bags and last minute chasing of parents. A situation – if there ever was one – just ripe for productivity improvement !

So we built the eeZeeTrip platform and a free mobile App for parents to solve this problem.

The impact on school productivity and finances were immediate and had concomitant educational benefits.  As the Head who approached us, Mr Llew Davies, commented:
“We’ve saved nearly 4000 pieces of paper and printing in just two months. That really adds up over the year, and we can use the money saved to better support pupils’ learning – as well as helping the environment, of course!”

Another benefit of streamlining administration of educational visits is that teachers have more time to prepare the pupils for what they would be learning on school trips. And a  lack of preparation in school is often cited by learning outside the classroom (LOTC) providers as a factor which impacts on the educational outcomes of the visit.

The project progressed further with the addition of online payments and and free messaging to the eeZeeTrip platform. This allowed schools to transform how they organise all their activities. Not just educational visits but after school clubs; breakfast clubs; music lessons; sports fixtures, school dinners, PTA fundraisers, school plays – even end of year proms !

And with finance staff relieved of having to handle payments and spend hours reconciling banking they are free to focus on more productive, important strategy and school development tasks. When asked if they would recommend eeZeeTrip, one Finance Director of an Academy Trust said:
“I would ask them to find a reason not to use it – because I can’t see one! And as our new schools open, we’ll implement eeZeeTrip from the start.”
As well as the obvious cost savings (on printing, text messaging costs, staff time etc), schools are now able to offer more extra-curricular activities without additional administration overhead. This ‘doing more with less’ has a direct impact on pupils who now have more choices of activities with associated financial benefits for the school, as Mr Davies noted:
“With eeZeeTrip we save hours of valuable staff time and can offer more choices of activities, generating extra income for the school.”
And, importantly, busy parents benefit from more options of care outside school hours.
Ysgol Cae Top’s use of eeZeeTrip was recenty recognised at the Wales Technology Awards, winning the ‘Best Tech Adopter’ category. Judges noting the cost savings gained by the school and the wider impact on pupils and parents.

Having a simple unified system for event management, payments and messaging has demonstrated how schools can improve economic productivity with benefits for educational productivity.

And when schools are asking parents to contribute more in time and money, providing a simple positive ‘touch point’ is vital for engagement. And eeZeeTrip is proving popular as there’s no more having to root through school bags or retrieve letters that have fallen under the fridge.
As one parent summed up on Twitter: How cool is @eeZeeTrip !!! Fab app – great choice @StMartinsChest1 #multitasking #busy #OneLessThingToWorryAbout

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The author

Damien is the co-founder of Nexus Education - a collaboration of over 11,000 schools, 500 solution providers and other key figures across the education sector. Nexus encourages, and aids, group collaboration across a number of areas including procurement and training to ensure the best possible outcomes for children in schools all over the UK. Nexus has invested over £100,000 directly into UK schools via #NeXworking.

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