I just love it when I see that what I do is making a difference. One of our Ed HQ innovations has cut several hours from the workload of school administrators, and at the same time the school is getting a better deal than before!
At one of the schools we were working with, the administrator had a bit of a whinge because it was that time when she had to collate all of the curriculum topics for the next term. Each head of year produced the information for her in a different format – some in Word, others in Publisher or on the inevitable scraps of paper. She had to pull them all together into a cohesive whole.
‘What would really help me is if you could do something on the website to make this job easier’ was her off the cuff challenge. So we did just that.
We created a template within the school website admin area where each teacher creates their next term’s curriculum. By hitting one button to post it, the sheet is published on the school website year group page and the curriculum page for all to see. The school can email a link to it to all of the parents via the website’s newsletter function and it is easy to print off for those parents that aren’t online.
The teachers are pleased because it simplifies their task of creating a termly curriculum summary. The school is pleased because it cuts out a lot of work for their hard pressed admin team and it reinforces the professional image of the school – no more cheerfully amateurish information sheets going out to the parents.
The curriculum topics template was so successful that nearly every other school we work with has asked if they can have it too.
I visit a lot of schools and sadly I have to say that, as I wait in the reception areas, my eyes are often drawn to a TV on the wall showing endless loops of pictures of the pupils having fun. The quality of the pictures is variable but one thing is consistent – there are too many pictures and usually nothing else. What a missed opportunity.
One forward looking school, Firs Hill Primary, asked us if we could do something about the digital information screens in their reception and dining areas. The brief was for the content to be interesting, to showcase the school’s work, to provide a window on the wider world for the children and, most importantly, to be easy to update.
That’s exactly what we did. We created a whole information system and designed a number of pages, some static and some that can be edited by the school, but each consistent with the school's style. We even designed a way that each class teacher can display their class’ work. Finally we added a TV tickertape of BBC Newsround, a clock and the weather forecast. Digital signage for schools has grown up.
To meet their most important criteria – easy to update – we linked the screens to the school’s website so the information on the digital screens is updated via the website content management system (CMS). Every teacher has a log-in so they can add their posts from their own computer.
And yes, there are photo montages on the screens, but they’re interspersed with today’s menu, the author of the week, the adult education courses running that day, Year 3’s tadpoles project, what school trips are happening.....