Technology can help educators balance the burden of increasing administration duties with their core job, which is teaching and spending more time with students.
A recent report by the University of Sydney and Curtin University has revealed that, on an average, a teacher faces 55 hours of work every week (44 hours at school and 11 hours at home).
The study titled Understanding Work in School further states that these duties not only impact teachers themselves but also threaten teaching and student learning.
Eighty-nine percent of the respondents from the study revealed that a high workload, the need to provide evidence of compliance with policy requirements (86%), and the new administrative demands introduced by the Department of Education (91%) impacted teaching and student learning.
My opinion is that a great school management solution follows these underlying principles:
1. Make it easy to enter data: The technology we deploy must make it easy for teachers and school staff to enter and use their data. A great example of this is attendance management. Solutions these days enable teachers to call the roll quickly from any location and on any device. A couple of clicks and then it’s done.
2. Maintaining data integrity: To ensure that the data is correct, the solution will have mechanisms to validate different types of data. At a school level, this may be as simple as asking parents to validate contact or medical information through the parent portal. For a Catholic Diocese or State Government, it may be checking that a duplicate student account is not created when a student moves between schools. Technology provides us with great opportunities to reduce the burden on school and head office staff by automating or sharing the responsibility across this area.
3. Data is only entered once: Once someone has entered the data, it should be accessible ubiquitously within the system without anyone ever having to enter it again. The Civica Education Suite, which offers modules in Timetabling, Billing, and Finance modules is a great example of this. E.g. A teacher adds a student to a lesson or an event that has an associated fee. By doing so the Finance system creates a debtor account, the Billing system notes that the student’s bills are split between two parents and a grandparent, on a 40/40/20% basis and raises the bills accordingly, and the Timetabling module records the student’s registration for the class, and makes this visible to the student, teacher and carer(s).
4. Easy reporting and analysis: This final guiding principle is that it has to be easy to get your data out of the system and the Civica Education Suite does this in a variety of ways. On every screen, the solution provides data in the form of grids which can quickly be exported to a CSV or spreadsheet format to allow really quick access to data which the school may want to use elsewhere. To ease the burden of reporting to central bodies such as DEEWR (Australian Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations), ACARA (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority), and the ATO (Australian Taxation Office), the solution provides schools with all of the reports and extracts they need for national and state government bodies, allowing schools to simply submit them as required. For school staff that want to create their own reports (without learning complex reporting tools), it also includes an ad hoc report writer to provide quick and easy custom reports.
Simon Jones is the Managing Director of the Libraries and Education solutions at Civica International