Does your school spend too much time and money on manual, disconnected or paper-based processes — from collecting forms, consent and payments; to managing groups or activities, parent communication and staff requests?
These operational tasks and workflows place recurring demands on perpetually-limited and precious school resources, which distract from educators core mission: To focus on students and associated learning outcomes.
It’s this inherent volume of repetitive and people-led chores that make K – 12 education a perfect candidate for Process Automaton. Process Automation in schools can be thought of as the concept of completing repeating and mundane tasks using technology, resulting in increased efficiency, a reduction in required human effort, as well as faster and more accurate outcomes. Sounds pretty good right?
But, attempting to improve those processes can feel daunting. Where do you start? And will the effort be worth it? A series of upcoming School Process Automation Best Practice webinars offer a useful guide.
Hosted by EdTech vendor Operoo, a Digital School Operations Platform, the sessions reveal the top 10 most impactful school processes to automate first, the 12 approaches required to achieve maximum return on investment, and the top 10 benefits achieved by K – 12 education institutions that deploy best practice school process automation.
To demonstrate why the juice is definitely worth the squeeze, we’re sharing three of the top 10 benefits before the webinar, taking place across Thursday, March 25 (2pm) and Tuesday, March 30 (11am):
- Save time, paper and money
Ok, so this one is kind of obvious and implied. But, the payback achieved through repurposing resources once spent on recurring tasks is pretty astounding. For example, estimates from thepaperlessproject.com suggests that people lose 15 minutes per piece of paper filed and processed. Expanding this logic, if a school could find automated, online methods to replace and process 40,000 pieces of paper per year, they’d reclaim 10,000 staff hours every 12-months. Aside from the enormous human resource savings, there’s also significant money to be saved by reducing the number of paper forms printed — from the cost of the paper itself, toner, postage and copier maintenance expenses. Not to mention saving the 21 trees that conservatree.org estimate the average thousand-student school destroys per year in the name of paper forms.
To illustrate the point, Beaconhills College in Victoria embraced process automation best practices to streamline the way it requests, collects, collates and analyzes student permissions and medical information as part of start-of-year enrolments and transitions.
“We’re saving 2,276 staff hours every January,” said Sam Maddock, Global Head of Outdoor and Co-Curricular Programs at Beaconhills College. “That’s well over $50,000 worth of manpower saved on processing start-of-year permission forms and student medical data, which we can repurpose for more meaningful tasks.
- Stronger parent engagement and student participation
Aside from enabling staff hours to be repurposed, school process automation can also drive better parent engagement.
Located in the New York CIty borough of Staten Island, Elias Bernstein Intermediate School 7 (IS7) delivers a wide range of events, field trips, extracurricular and support programs to its 1200 students. However, slow sign-up rates and low parent volunteering resulted in an exhausting amount of manual follow-up for staff and impacted student participation.
By automating the way it communicates and manages these activities, IS7 was able to generate superior parent engagement, equity and access for students, as well as reduced administrative demands on school staff.
“We run an after school test-preparation program at a cost of $155 per student,” Dina Testa, Assistant Principal at IS7 said. “For the last few years, I’ve got 80 kids involved. This year, by digitizing and automating the promotion and sign-up process , we’re already up to 128 kids and we haven’t even hit the due date — so I know they’ll be more.
“Last year, we had a poor turnout for our basketball program. Now, the amount of interest is overwhelming — we almost had too many registered. We’ve also consistently asked for parent volunteers, through our PTA, to help out at school events. Previously, we’ve been lucky to get a dozen volunteers. Today, we have more than 200. That’s a 2000 percent increase in the number of parent volunteers.
“These are all great examples of digital notices and reminders automatically going home, being read, and being returned. Automating these school processes has been a real life saver.”
- Improved staff productivity and morale
It’s well documented that the leading cause of educators leaving the profession is burnout as a result of consistently high workload. The latest iteration of the OECD’s global Teaching and Learning International Survey found that educators in the developed world, and particularly teachers in Australia, are working longer hours than ever before. An increasing amount of time spent on non-teaching tasks was cited as a key contributor to that trend, with ‘skyrocketing administrative requirements’ a primary culprit. Further, 91 percent of the 18,000 educators who contributed to the University of Sydney’s 2018 study, Understanding Work in Schools, reported experiencing a level of administrative demand so high it was a ‘hindrance’ to their job.
Aside from leading to poor morale, a 2019 Australian Education Union (AUE) survey of 3,591 teachers found that operational tasks are also impacting the quality of lessons and the health of educators, further underscoring the value process automation can play by easing the burden.
“Nearly three quarters of respondents felt that they spent too much time on administrative tasks,” Correna Haythorpe, AUE President said. In addition, nearly half of 478 principals surveyed said that they worked for 56 hours or more per week.
“Ninety per cent of teachers indicated that their workload at some stage has had a negative effect on their teaching. Most alarmingly, the same study revealed that more than a third of teachers in all schools have indicated that their workload often or nearly always adversely affected their health.”