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Schools are complex, but at their core is a simple goal…

to prepare students for productive and successful lives by equipping them with the knowledge and skills they need. If we think about a school as a machine, with lots of disparate parts working together to achieve their core purpose, we can break them down into four key operational areas:

happy colleagues discussing paperwork during meeting

Teaching and Learning

The core function of educating students

school leadership

School Leadership

Responsibility for overall strategy, learning outcomes and the well-being of staff and students

School Management and Administration

Ensuring the smooth operation of the school, including, finance, HR and marketing

Property and Assets

Managing and maintaining the school grounds and facilities

While teams in each of these areas share a collective goal that unites these teams, they each face unique pain points, challenges and priorities. Often this risks pulling them in conflicting, and even opposing directions.

We saw this in the Education Horizons Group’s 2021 annual survey of teachers, school leaders and administrators, compiled from over 1,000 respondents from more than 590 schools (56% independent) from every state and territory in Australia.

Teachers and school leaders

The top priority for teachers (57%) and school leaders (54%) was ‘consistently embedding best-practice pedagogy across the school’ (57%) and ‘improving workflow to reduce workload’ (42%).

School management and administration

School Management and administration staff, however, identified ‘Improving school facilities and asset management’ (46%) and ‘streamlining administrative tasks’ (62%) as their greatest priorities.

While it seems only natural that different school areas will have different areas of concern, it does illustrate that schools battle with competing goals, and to use the metaphor of a machine, hints that not all parts are working together to function like a well-oiled machine.

Recently we asked schools about their ideal school system. Most schools want to have a single integrated system that acts as the single source of truth for all their data. Interestingly, this research showed that schools are instead implementing additional systems with functionality that overlaps that of their existing systems – or in other words – doing the exact opposite of what they aspire to do. The average number of integrated systems a school uses increases as its student numbers increase, often causing friction for others and creating more overlaps, more double-handling and ironically, more time wasted. For example, a school with 1,200 students can have as many as 12 or more different software systems in place to address the various role needs and requirements. The graph below highlights the issue.

This graph illustrates that many schools have overly complex systems. Which are often harder for staff to navigate. This often results in ‘chaos’, disorder and confusion on the part of the user, to know what system to ‘use’ and ‘when’.

So how can schools address their key priority areas and reduce the significant number of systems they are using?

Under the Education Horizons model, the complexity of a school’s needs is respected, however the way these needs are met is simplified. A school can now use as little as three complementary systems to meet most of their operational needs. For example, when schools use a SEQTA, Synergetic combination the two systems seamlessly connect, providing visibility to the data that teachers and administrators require. The teachers use SEQTA for their teaching and learning requirements bringing transparency to this area so leaders can focus on their priority areas – to support teachers to ‘consistently embed best-practice pedagogy across the school’ whilst also ‘improving workflow to reduce workload’.

The administrators use Synergetic for their key business processes so they can address their key priority area – to ‘streamline administrative tasks’ and complement this with the addition of AssetWhere (AW) and Facilities Management (FM) to address their other priority area – ‘improving school facilities and asset management’.

The AssetWhere and Facilities Management systems fully integrate to provide complete oversight of all a schools’ assets, properties, facilities and services enabling schools to create a culture of asset and property management. AssetWhere enables schools to make more informed decisions about their property and asset information as all a school’s property information is in one place and easily accessible. Facilities Management provides an online portal or “window” for the property stakeholders to all their property and facilities management making it easy to submit work requests, keep on top of adhoc and scheduled maintenance, manage contractors and insurances to name a few.

This means that schools only deal with only one technology partner, Education Horizons, to support all their business, teaching and learning, property and facilities management.

This means that schools only deal with only one technology partner, Education Horizons, to support all their business, teaching and learning, property and facilities management.

So, why should a school select Education Horizons as their technology partner?

The number of systems that a school uses increases proportionally to its student numbers. However, the downside of this is that the school’s data can become siloed preventing them from accessing live analytics and identifying trends and patterns in their data. They can’t see the whole picture, often leading to increased manual processing of data as the data is moved from one system to another, increasing their workload and pain.

All these additional systems also increase costs and dependence on technical support. Our work with over 2,000 schools globally highlights the significant amount of overlap that occurs between systems. For example, a school we recently dealt with, let’s call them School A, had their teachers working in five separate systems. They used One Note to document the teaching and learning, Teams for communicating with students and sharing lesson information, Atlas Rubicon to map their curriculum, Firefly as their learning management system and Managebac to track teachers’ units of inquiry. None of the data flowed between systems and the teachers were constantly double handling data. This is a simple illustration of one of the key priorities identified by teachers and leaders ‘improving workflow to reduce workload (42%)’. Imagine the cost and workload savings if the school had taken a more strategic approach to their system acquisitions? This school did not function as a finely tuned machine, in fact, they did the opposite, they were inefficient, causing increased workload and stress for staff.

Implementing the three Education Horizons systems enables schools to save money, time and resources whilst also having only one point of contact for questions and support.

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