Goodbye ParentPaperwork, hello EdSmart

The company is extremely excited to announce its relaunch under the new name, brand and mission – EdSmart.

Having expanded into eight countries and been implemented in 400-plus schools, the full potential of the original ParentPaperwork label has been reached. EdSmart is now the new place for ParentPaperwork and encompasses the huge milestones achieved in a short amount of time while strongly positioning this global edtech company for its future.

“It’s been a big and satisfying journey since we first developed an online platform that helps take schools paperless by digitising the forms and correspondence they exchanged with parents,” says Fiona Boyd, CEO of EdSmart. “But we’ve developed into so much more than just a piece of software for parent forms – we’re a complete and integratable administration solution that helps schools run smarter.”

Many schools currently think of their major software needs falling under two banners – that of the student management system (SIS or MIS) and the learning management system (LMS). However, there is a third category of software – a school organisation system – that replaces traditional burdens shouldered by administrators in schools, automating and streamlining the daily tasks of school life. That system is EdSmart.

“It made sense to have a new look & feel to reflect our development into a refined, personalised, easy and efficient method of routing workflows, collecting data and managing the administration between schools and of all their stakeholders,” continues Fiona Boyd.

While this brand change signals a major leap forward for the company, current users of the EdSmart platform under the ParentPaperwork name will not have to alter anything – all logins remain the same and will automatically reroute to EdSmart, the new place for ParentPaperwork. Current users are just reminded: wherever they see the EdSmart name and logo, this now represents what was once ParentPaperwork.

EdSmart has created a cloud-based School Organisation System (SOS) that is unlike any other other school administration system on the market. Why? Because it functions by integrating with all school databases and transfers data between systems. Data interoperability is the key that increases the potential of the EdSmart platform and makes it so powerful.

“It has been statistically proven that student improvement is linked to teacher-student contact time and parent engagement,” says Fiona Boyd. “The education arena, as a whole, has tighter budgets year on year, which makes delivering student improvement targets exponentially difficult.”

“The long-term solution is to embrace software that genuinely supports valuable teaching and reduces non-teaching staff time,” she concludes. “We feel that EdSmart meets that need.”

For more information about EdSmart, please email [email protected]

New EdSmart logos are accessible here.

 

Photocopying Money: printing expenditure in schools

One of the main areas where schools have traditionally bled money has been the humble photocopying room.

Walk into any area dedicated to printing and photocopying and you’re likely to find a machine hard at work, often unattended, printing reams of paper while even more paper sits in the tray seemingly forgotten. Nearby recycle bins are filled with the ones that didn’t make it – the rejects – maybe due to a typo or maybe a formatting error. Stacks of fresh reams sit idly on standby for the unhappy sap that gets stuck mid-print having to refill the machine. And if the toner’s run out? Cue office-wide meltdown and the sending out of a search party for the one person authorised to change it.

The above may be a little bit of an exaggeration but often not by much. The organised chaos of the photocopying room is built for wastage.

Trying to get a handle on how much paper is used on average is a difficult task for most schools. Some estimates in the UK say that 1,000 sheets of paper per student per year is normal, with secondary schools burning through over one million sheets.

Ray Fleming, Education Marketing Manager for Microsoft, says schools often spend more on printing than they do on IT.

“An average school will use 1m sheets of paper a year and spend £60,000 (AUD $120k) on photocopying but only £56,000 (AUD $110k) on IT.”

Reducing the costs of printing and copying presents a real challenge for most schools who find they not only have to seek out alternatives to their current processes but they also have to change people’s habits. The problem is universal, and novel solutions have been introduced to varying success.

One Israeli company that supplies printers and photocopiers for schools introduced an online social network where students could share photocopied handouts and readings online, earning credits when uploading content for others to use.

A US teen also made the news in early 2014 for releasing a study where he estimated the government could save $234 million in printing costs by simply changing their font type.

One change that has made a difference for many schools has been the procurement of contracts with printer and photocopier suppliers, outsourcing the servicing and ordering of their products.

Often, the cost of maintaining old equipment is quite high. Old machines can be inefficient, using more toner than necessary, more power than new models and costing an arm and a leg to have someone repair at regular intervals. Contract services give schools brand new machines that cost less to run while also providing them with a toll-free number they can call for support if the machine breaks down. Many companies also supply toner and even paper at a lower cost for those on a contract.

www.flickr.com-photos-loughboroughuniversitylibrary

In Australia, an agreement between the NSW Department of Education and Communities (DEC) and Fuji Xerox proved popular, with many schools signing up for the contracted service. It is estimated, if 85% of schools in NSW took up the services, the total savings would be close to $127 million. The deal also comes with a buy-back scheme for existing printers, allowing schools to recoup some of their previous expenditure.

Looking outside of the school for printing solutions has helped keep many budgets in check. Centralised management of printing helped save one Florida school $500,000, even with an on-site representative to help iron out any issues.

Other schools in the UK have moved towards digitising their print systems, introducing new ways of managing a fleet of printers and copiers centrally. These technologies have not only help schools move closer to becoming paperless but they have also helped save money by tracking printing costs across the whole network in real time.

The photocopying room may play a large role in school expenses but it can also be an easy place to start when looking for a solution. There are many ways to cut costs and, by auditing your current systems, you can start to identify where to begin in doing so.

Below is a list of general printing tips, which act as a good base from which to work because chances are, if you don’t print money, you’re probably spending it.

Printing Tips 

  • Put in place a goal for your school in reducing paper use. Back this up with a new policy promoting less printing and more electronic media.
  • Make double-sided printing and copying the default setting on all machines throughout the school.
  • Rescue non-sensitive documents sitting in the print recycle bin that have only been printed on one side. Use these as notepaper or for draft printing.
  • Educate the staff, as well as the students, about the economic and environmental costs of using paper. Reinforce ways to conserve.
  • Choose paper products that contain recycled content, not only office and printing paper but also for paper towels and napkins.
  • Put in place a central purchasing system to ensure policies are being enacted, and to help track usage and optimise ordering.

Subscribe to the ParentPaperwork mailing list and receive a free eBook with more detailed information on how to reduce paper waste in your school.

Crunching the Cost: the hidden price of education

Teaching. It’s the only profession where you steal supplies from home and bring them to work.

It may be a little tongue-in-cheek but this old joke is a good way to weed out teachers at a dinner party. They’ll be the ones laughing the loudest and nodding in agreement.

The sad truth is that, over the years, budget cuts to public schooling has affected not only schools themselves but also teachers, parents and students. The crunch is on, and it has trickled down to every facet of our schooling system.

The problem is a global one. In Australia, a recent report from Victoria’s Auditor-General revealed, in 2014, parents paid a total of $310 million in school fees and levies, equating to an average of $558 per child. This figure represented a rise of $70 million in family contributions to schools over five years.

The report showed schools were charging for many items, including textbooks, health checks and stationery, that should be provided free of charge.

In the US, many states are facing budgetary constraints, with parents being out of pocket for similar amounts, which add to costs already forked out for uniforms and supplies such as facial tissue, pens, paper and bandages.

Our previous post on the cost of modern parenting covered a lot of facts and figures on just how expensive it is to educate a child. The costs are not so surprising when considering how tight school budgets have become.

In the UK, recent analysis showed that state schools must save over £1 billion over the next year to balance their budget. Even the costs of private schools have risen by 83% since 2000 while incomes only rose by around 27%.

The following infographic from H&R Block shows a breakdown of what governments, parents and teachers in the US spend on average each year for schooling. Some of the figures are surprising.

Back-to-School

The teacher’s burden

While every parent knows how much it is costing them to send their child to school, the money spent by teachers themselves is not so common knowledge.

Teachers are often left to bridge the gaps between budgets and the needs of students. When the money doesn’t exist for everyday supplies, the need for those supplies is still very real. While most statistics say teachers in the US spend around $500 per year on class supplies, it can be much higher elsewhere.

In Australia, a recent survey found that teachers were spending almost $2,000 a year on supplies. Principals spent the most, an average of $2,601 and primary teachers were found to be spending around $450 more than their secondary counterparts.

It may seem hard to believe that teachers can be out of pocket for so much but, when you take stock of their expenses, it can really add up. These include:

  • Classroom supplies;
  • Educational materials;
  • Classroom furniture;
  • Excursions and field trips;
  • Student welfare (lunches, bus money, mobile phone calls, prizes and rewards);
  • Professional reading/training courses (including travel and accommodation);
  • Staffroom items (including mugs, cutlery, crockery);
  • Enhancements to school-issued toiletries and general cleaning equipment; and
  • Sunglasses, hats and jackets for playground duties.

Investing in the future

While there’s not a lot we can do to change the school budget, we can choose how it is spent. When faced with a tight budget, many schools will tighten the purse strings and cut back on new purchases and investments.

However, an investment is just that, and thinking long-term can help set-up a stable future for parents, teachers and students. New technologies, such as ParentPaperwork, can help reduce cash costs by introducing efficiencies to processes.

Recent studies show that 78% of kindergarten through middle school teachers agreed that technology has positively impacted their classroom. Whether it be through aiding an effort to reduce paper costs, opening up new ways of interacting between teachers, parents and students or by freeing up time for overworked teachers, there can be many benefits that help reduce costs for a school.

Investment in computers, software and systems is just one way that forward-thinking schools can make tight budgets work in their favour.

With a little investment and the right solutions, we can hope for a future where the joke about stealing supplies from home will no longer be funny… especially for teachers.

Four major benefits for your school to eliminate the paper chase in 2015

Schools are often seen as conservative in their adoption of new process and ideas, but if there is one habit that schools around the world need to kick in 2015 it’s their significant paper consumption.

Even with all the modern ICT tools deployed in schools today staff and students will still use paper for some tasks, but there are significant savings in both time and cost available to schools that transition their paper-based processes to online tools.

For example each year tens of millions of parents sign hundreds of millions of paper forms on behalf of their children or relatives. It’s a labour intensive, unreliable and inefficient process – and there are clear advantages in considering electronic alternatives.

Here are four major benefits for your school to eliminate the paper chase in 2015 as part of the Workload Challenge

Saving money:

Apart from the obvious expense of purchasing paper plus photocopier and printer consumables, most of the time schools don’t realize the hidden costs associated with staff administrators and teachers managing paper trails.

Transitioning paper forms to an online system makes a great deal of sense.

Document retention policies often require schools to archive their paper forms for a considerable number of years – we’ve heard of some schools whose legal advisors have told them to keep their paper forms indefinitely. Over time storage can become a real cost burden, to ensure the paper forms are held securely and safely.

Not only are online forms quicker to fill out and easier to read, staff will can keep them on record without having to worry about damaged or lost forms – with the ParentPaperwork system the data remains available at the click of a mouse for as long as the school decides.

And of course any cost savings can be redirected into teaching time and resources.

Saving time:

Sending out paper forms such as permission slips is extremely time consuming for administrators and teachers. Creating, approving and copying the forms can involve hundreds of pieces of paper and many hours of work. Then there’s all the stress and hassle that follows when students forget or are late to bring back their forms,  causing headaches for the teachers, principals and administrators.

The last thing teachers need is to waste time standing in front of a photocopier, stuff forms into students’ school bags and chasing parents.

ParentPaperwork lets teachers send out their forms with a click of a button. The forms are delivered directly to parents via email, and are tracked and delivery errors noted, so school staff have  confidence forms have reached the parents. Parents are even automatically sent reminders if they are overdue submitting their forms.

Staff can log into ParentPaperwork at any time to view real time reporting about which parents have responded and submitted their forms. Then all the relevant data can be exported into a single spreadsheet file – no more carrying bundles of paper forms on field trips and excursions.

Saving the environment

There are many great opportunities for schools to adopt environmentally friendly practices, and saving paper is a positive way to contribute to ensuring our kids can look forward to a healthy planet for many decades to come.

A school with 2,000 students could be using 80,000 pieces of paper a year just to send forms home to parents – that’s around ten trees a year that need to be sacrificed just so parents can give permission for their children to attend a sports carnival or other school activity! Using online forms will save those trees and set a positive example to students.

Schools can sign up for a free 30 day trial at www.ParentPaperwork.com