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The administration struggle

Jo Gibson shares her tips for reducing administration costs through subtle changes to day-to-day activity

Posted by Hannah Vickers | July 03, 2017 | Law, finance, HR

Since 2010, dark clouds have begun to form over the teaching profession. School leaders have been forced, by budget cuts, to make life-changing decisions that will affect children, parents and staff. Schools across the country are now looking at alternative ways to save money in order to meet the demanding cuts, and one of the main areas of focus is administration costs.

Schools could save up to 20% on their administration costs through simple changes in practice

According to The National Association of School Business Management (NASBM), schools could save up to 20% on their administration costs through simple changes in practice. With subtle changes, schools can become more efficient and therefore save themselves a substantial amount of money which, in today’s world, is very valuable. 

Here, I share four of the biggest budget saving administration changes that schools can implement:

Make technology your friend

As technology ages, the upkeep and repair costs can take a toll on any school’s budget. By introducing technology refresh cycles, schools can easily monitor budget allocations each year and avoid falling into the trap of having to buy new technology immediately to replace old or broken ones. These cycles can be introduced by departments, year groups or classrooms.

As many schools are increasingly ‘going green’, another way to reduce costs is to consider the amount of printing and copying each department produces. The majority of paper is used printing worksheets and exercises that can often be viewed and completed electronically. Implementing caps or credits on the amount staff and pupils can print per week can bring the costs of technology and paper stock down. 

Payment processing

Introducing improved cash management and payment processing services is one of the key areas where schools can substantially reduce administration costs. Many schools spend a lot of time and resources chasing payments for school trips, lunch money and uniforms. By offering parents the option to pay by Direct Debit, schools can vastly improve productivity and cash flow.

Administration time spent on chasing late payments will be eradicated and finance departments will have a clearer view of monthly figures allowing them to forecast and plan more effectively. It also reassures parents that their money is going directly to the school and allows them to have the option to set up smaller, more regular payments – useful if the school is facing the challenge of having to ask parents to contribute increasing amounts.

By offering Direct Debit, schools can save significant amounts of money by cutting time spent on laborious administration tasks and direct budgets towards more beneficial areas – purchasing new science equipment for example. 

Visitors stay away!

It’s vital to make sure that any schools administration team are working effectively and not interrupted, causing small tasks to take twice as long and, in majority of cases, cost twice as much. 

One way to tackle this issue is to implement an online device for lessons and morning/afternoon registration. Signing in to classes using smart cards or inputting attendance details on to the software can reduce admin time each day. Paper based registers can take office staff up to two hours collecting the data, inputting it onto the system and then acting on relevant information gathered. Streamlining admin staff’s time and making them more efficient can bring costs down and allow budgets to stretch that bit further.

Be financially savvy

Running a school is now very much like running a business. The new wave of headteachers are coming from the private sector to bring with them a sharp business acumen to help schools meet demanding budget cuts. It is important to establish a strong financial understanding of business for the entirety of a school’s senior leadership team, in order to focus all members of staff’s minds around objectives to save money.

It is a harsh reality, but unfortunately schools in 2017 should be seen and understood more and more as a business

Instead of this being seen as a government issue that’s out of the hands of a school, by instilling senior leadership members with a business growth drive mentality, productivity can in fact increase and this will automatically feed down in to lower members of staff. It is a harsh reality, but unfortunately schools in 2017 should be seen and understood more and more as a business.

Going forward 

Schools are facing a really difficult operational challenges and budgets are continually becoming thinner and thinner. Through targeted planning and effective strategies, administration costs can be reduced and the money and time saved can make a huge difference. 

Jo Gibson is Operations Director at  First Capital Cashflow, a leading cloud-based payments bureau

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