Online School Administration Software Keeps Busy Parents Informed

Most parents would agree that it is important to keep track of their children’s education given the competitive world we live in. Generally parents would need to wait 9 weeks between parent teacher conferences and the occasional report card to understand how their children are doing.

Unfortunately, today’s work environment doesn’t encourage time spent in evaluating your child’s grades, nor does it give you the space to have a conversation with their teachers and headmasters. Most often than not, parents only find out about behavioral or academic issues once they have escalated and then it requires so much more effort to get the child back on track. Handling special situations gets tougher too.

Busy parents need a better way to communicate with their children’s teachers and keep up with their progress these days. Today’s world has many parents that work a lot of hours and many even travel most of the time.

What’s the solution? The use of technology has brought to you, the parent, an option that has been evolving over the last decade. Using online school administration software keeps you up-to-date on your child’s progress and activities during school hours.

Now parents can keep up with their child’s progress on a regular basis without having to put work on hold. In today’s electronic-age, this is the perfect solution to handling their activities, report cards, progress reports, schedules and disciplinary records from one place and with one application.

You can’t beat the value of this product. Early warning signs of a declining academic progress can be seen early on and handled. Further-more, online school administration software is so simple to use to keep track of your child’s progress when you’re abroad or away from home for work. More importantly, teachers can always communicate early signs of misbehavior to you.

Software like this is innovative and gives the parents a real heads up when it comes to their child’s school activities. Parents can log in weekly or even daily to find out how their child scored on their term papers and pop quizzes. Some parents are even allowed access to the grade book in the online school administration software which will highlight assignment grades and then translate those grades into the cumulative grade point average. A further advantage is in being able to develop the conversation with your child around why the grades are dropping, rather than nagging them to find out what their grades are.

With the availability of this information online, come higher requirements for safety and security. Parents would be given usernames and passwords that are generated by the online school administration software itself. This is to ensure that no one else can gain access to any personal information about the student or the family.

Middle School Management Stress – So You Think You Have it Rough?

How many of us adults fuss because we put in eight hours a day at a job that isn’t really all that mentally challenging and that is broken up by the ability to go to the bathroom whenever we want or get something to drink when we need it? The answer would be most of us. Now try to remember being in middle school. You have six or more intensive classes to go through each day. You cannot always leave class to get a drink or take a break. Each class also gives you a load of work which you must take home and finish before the next day. Most students realistically speaking put in seven or eight classroom hours a day followed by three or more hours of homework. When you figure this over a five day period the numbers begin to add up. One school week becomes fifty or more hours, plus most teachers give homework to do over the weekend that can add anywhere from two to six more hours. The fifty hour week can quickly become a sixty hour week. If your child participates in extracurricular activities you must also add those hours to their already crammed schedule.

You also must take some other factors into account. If your child is one that is getting picked on they deal with the sort of treatment that adults sue each other for. Being children they have no such recourse. If other kids liable them then parents usually just say that they are being kids and have to learn how to handle such things. On top of all these stressors this age range is when children starting learning to behave as young adults and begin feeling the pressures that go with it. Have you ever thought about having this sort of burden on your shoulders?

Those Who Mold The Leaders Of Tomorrow

Now that you have some insight into the stress levels faced by middle schoolers it is time to look through another set of eyes. Imagine that you are not responsible for only your one, two, or three children. Imagine being responsible for hundreds of children. Imagine that their success or failure can be placed squarely at your feet. No matter whether their ability or lack there of plays a part you will still carry the burden if they cannot make it through. If the children are spending fifty to sixty hours per week on school your are spending almost double that in preparing for each class. You have to get each lesson prepared, including homework assignment and tests, as well as grading assignments from the previous day. There is no time to do it when you are at school because your hours are consumed by the actual teaching process. When do you do it? At home, of course. Every day teachers shoulder the burden that they have been called to as the teachers of future generations. Class sizes have grown larger and larger yet the budgets have not so teachers have dealt with low pay and little appreciation. Middle school teachers also have the added stress of possibly having to teach their students how to behave as young adults since many families no longer have, or take, the time to do so. Not only is a teacher responsible for each of their students, the principal carries the responsibility of each of their numerous students and teachers. If a teacher falls flat then it is the principal that has to shoulder most of the blame.

Take A Moment To Say Thank You

Next time you drive to the school for a parent/teacher conference think about this: Wouldn’t it be much nicer to carry a basket of treats to the teachers that work so hard for your children than to carry a load of arguments as to why you don’t think they do enough to teach your child? Educators face a good deal of stress every day which makes us very lucky that there are those people out there that are not afraid to take on this heavy of a responsibility.

The Complete Guide to Sustainable Schools – From Photocopiers to Flushers

The UK Department for Education and Skills (DfES) recently published an extensive guide for bursars, head teachers and school administrators for creating more sustainable schools. Producing around 600,000 tonnes of waste a year and responsible for large levels of energy and water consumption, schools make a significant contribution to the UK’s CO2 emissions and the country’s impact on climate change. But as the DfES outlined, there are various measures, often low or no cost, which schools may implement to make major cuts to their environmental impact and achieve significant reductions to their bills. With over 30 pages of guidance however, the DfES guide might not be for everyone. Realising that time is very much of the essence for school administrators at the moment, here is an abridged guide, covering only those measures which are low or no cost and focusing on areas of greater priority.

By following some simple guidelines, schools have a chance to make a real difference to their environmental impact and create more efficient institutions with more sustainable futures. Simple steps can achieve significant energy and water conservation, cut environmental pollutants, reduce waste output, enhance the natural environment and crucially, prepare school students for a lifetime of more considerate stewardship over their natural surroundings.

Energy and Water Bills

School administrators should be aware that their bills don’t just tell them what they owe but can be a real window into understanding what exactly they’re paying for and where there may be opportunities to save.

Firstly, for any metered supplies (which would usually include gas electricity and water), an important check is to ensure that the reference number on any bills corresponds exactly to the ID number on the relevant meter casing. If the number of your bill refers to someone else’s meter (and this does occur!), you could be paying for energy you don’t use. It’s also advisable for schools to ensure their site staff take regular meter readings to cross-reference with bills and that any apparent deviations/discrepancies be raised with suppliers.

For electricity bills, bursars or school administrators should check which tariff they are on. If schools are on a day/nigh tariff, as is standard for many homes for example, they may be paying more than they should. With very little overnight energy use at most schools, a day only tariff might be a better choice. Also, in terms of billing intervals, monthly bills, as a rule, often tend to work out cheaper. Finally, what is your school’s contract status? If you’re not a contract, schools should regularly get quotes and compare costs.

For gas and oil supplies, again it’s vital to keep your own independent records. For gas specifically, as with any metered supplies, check to ensure your ID number on the meter casing is the same as on the bill. Also, be sure to conduct your won regular meter readings and cross-reference against bills. With oil, though not usually metered, again, ensure site staff regularly check the tank volume and that the volume you are paying for matches the volume change to the tank.

Water suppliers will usually charge for both the supply from the stopcock and the discharge (sewerage). Often, schools will receive two different bills from two different companies for these services. With sewerage charges based on the volume of water supplied, any leakages from the stopcock will not only result in higher supply costs but also higher sewerage charges. Good guidance is to check bills regularly and compare volumes and costs to previous bills. It may also be useful for your school to conduct a water audit, which some water companies will conduct free of charge.

Schools will usually be charged for disposal of their waste but charges may vary depending on which company is used. As with energy suppliers, get quotes from as many suppliers as possible.

With water energy and waste, as has been noted, it is always advisable to measure consumption at regular intervals and compare with bills. It’s also sensible to compare your school’s consumption with that of other schools – those in the same vicinity is a good idea. Teachernet provides a very useful online schools benchmarking tool.

Identifying Wasteful Habits

As well as ensuring you have your house, or school(!) in order with the bills, the next stage is identifying where you yourselves may be able to make changes to reduce your energy consumption and waste.

With electricity, administrators should check that lights, photocopiers, printers, scanners and PC’s are switched off or are ‘on standby’ in unoccupied areas overnight. Other simple checks… Ensure that external lights are switched off in daylight and that lights are switched off when blinds are open.

With gas and oil, check that rooms are not overheated, that hot water is not excessively hot, doors and windows are not open when heating is ‘on’ and that heating is not left on after school hours.

For water, hot taps with loose washers can switch themselves on, so ensuring school plumbing is regularly checked is absolutely essential. Excessive watering of school grounds and bad landscaping and planting is another big source of water waste and over-regular automatic flushing of urinals consumes a great deal.

One of the biggest sources of waste and one of the costliest by weight, is over-printing, be that with desktop printers or more likely all-in-one photocopiers. This is something that both teachers and students with schools are often equally guilty of. Double-sided printing can help and making greater use of email when possible.

Setting Targets

Having identified a school’s bad habits it’s essential to set targets for improvement. Briefly, targets should be measurable, realistic and time-limited.

Develop a Plan of Action

When targets have been established, a plan of action will be required. Developing some specific action points, detailing time and any funding necessary and prioritising actions points is key.

Low or No Cost Energy Action Points

  • Heating timer settings (during occupied periods)
  • Keeping to established temperatures – 18 C for normal teaching, 15 C corridors and sports and 21 C low physical activity, very young students or special needs students.
  • Reductions of just 1 C can reduce heating bills by as much as 8%
  • Switch off unnecessary lights and label switches. Keep glazing, lights and sensors clean.
  • Replace 38mm tube lighting with 26mm tube lighting which use 8% less energy.
  • Switch off ICT equipment warm-up times are accurate and clearly displayed. Properly managed kitchens can use as much as 29% less energy.
  • Seal glazing, roofs, skirting and eaves against draughts. Replace broken windows, seals and door closers.
  • Regular servicing of heating plant.
  • Service agreements on printers, photocopiers and other energy-consuming equipment.

Low or No Cost Water Action Points

  • Establish a school ‘water savers’ monitoring scheme. Remember, one drip per second equates to around 7000 litres of water a year.
  • Staff and pupils should be encouraged to turn off taps fully and not to turn taps any further than they need to.
  • Encourage garden and maintenance staff to reduce water consumption – use mulch in beds to reduce water losses and brush where possible instead of using hoses or pressure hoses.
  • Again, in lavatories, use sensor-flush urinals rather than regular automatic flushing systems.

Low or No Cost Purchasing and Waste Action Points

  • Follow the ‘waste hierarchy’ – prevent, reduce, reuse, recover and safely dispose.
  • Conduct a waste audit – assessing the sources, quantity and types of waste. How is waste currently managed?
  • Avoid unhealthy, low-nutrition and heavily packaged ‘cheap’ pack-lunch brands – such crisps, cheesey-dippy packs and un-reusable drinks containers. Children should eat healthy sandwiches or salads in reusable containers and have fruit as their snack. Apologies to obesity encouraging snack brands!
  • Kitchen staff should be encouraged to reduce waste in kitchens and compost waste where possible. This will obviously achieve savings for grounds staff and provide much healthier plants to boot.
  • Recruit school waste monitors.
  • Reuse materials from arts and crafts departments.

Engaging Everyone with Your Sustainable Activities

For maximum success, it’s vital to ensure your staff and students are fully engaged and that collectively your school receives the credit that its activities are due. Publicising and promoting achievements on the school website, on any newsletters and through student/staff awards is a good place to start. But there are independent bodies which provide awards for sustainability and environmentally-friendly activities. Eco Schools provides its own programme which schools can follow and provide internally-assessed bronze and silver awards and an externally-assessed Green Flag. Sustainable Learning helps schools manage their energy and water consumption and claims to be able to reduce utility bills by 10%. Level 1 awards are self-assessed and Level 2&3 awards are externally assessed.

Schools are clearly going through very tough times at the moment, as with much of the educational sector, under the swinging cuts from the Conservative coalition government. Many eco-friendly school building projects that would now have been in full-swing, providing vital capital investment for the UK economy, have been scrapped and so in some cases school premises which have no long-term future are being expensively repaired/maintained week-by-week, month-on-month. But even in such a debilitating atmosphere, schools have a great opportunity to take matters into their own hands. A drive toward greater sustainability can be part of process towards greater overall efficiency and can encourage that ‘can-do’ mentality in students and staff which all head teachers would be pleased to see.