Last year seemed to witness a tipping point. Suddenly, developments that had been bubbling away for years appeared to have reached a level of maturity in terms of technical capability, if not (so far) price. This is especially true in the area of virtual reality as experienced through headsets such as Microsoft’s HoloLens, which makes it possible to ‘walk around’ a three dimensional representations of a person or object.
Ofsted. The mere mention of the organisation is enough to strike fear into even the stoutest of hearts. It’s very easy for senior leaders to inadvertently create even more workload for their staff in order to demonstrate to inspectors that the school has everything covered. Sometimes, an increase in workload cannot be avoided. Unfortunately, however, when it comes to inspections some of the advice ‘out there’ is almost designed to lead to a great deal of unnecessary work. One thing a MAT can do is lay down a few rules for its schools which, while perhaps not reducing the anxiety of an inspection, may at least keep the workload under control.
One of the advantages of having several schools under one umbrella, such as in a local authority or a multi-academy trust, is that you are able to draw on a much wider pool of data than would otherwise be the case. In effect, you can avoid the 'bubble' phenomenon.
We at Groupcall have been publishing articles on our blog at the rate of once a week on average (recently increased to twice a week). That’s quite a few, and so we’ll forgive you if you’ve missed some. In case that is so, we’ve produced this guide to some of our most useful articles in various categories.
Of course, these categories are arbitrary to some extent. For example, truancy, data and safeguarding are related issues. But we hope this guide will provide a starting point should you wish to explore particular topics.
The law is quite clear that schools cannot charge for education provided during school hours including the supply of any materials, books, instruments or other equipment, visits and experiences. Parents may be asked for a voluntary contribution for these items or events as long as it is made clear that students will not be excluded if parents do not pay. There are some circumstances where contributions may be requested for some activities that are known as ‘optional extras’.
Truancy can have dreadful consequences for a child's life chances. Even absence from primary school can affect a pupil's GCSE results, as we saw in the article Spotting truants before it is too late. Groupcall Emerge can play a large part in identifying patterns of truancy, but then how do you get those kids back into school?
Headteachers may balk at the potential loss of control they may experience if their school joins a multi-academy trust. However, there are plenty of potential advantages of doing so. An obvious one is economies of scale in terms of the bulk-buying of items like printer paper and other essentials. Perhaps less obvious, though, is the potential to afford higher specification communications systems, including wireless technology -- both through each school and between schools.
There is one constant source of teacher dissatisfaction, often cited as the main reason for leaving the profession. You guessed it: workload. Survey after survey, over several years, have told the same story. Teachers want to do the best job they can, but there are so many demands on them, not least in admin-related work, that many end up working far too many hours.
We've all heard about them and laughed at them: those school reports that look as though they're saying one thing but are in fact saying something quite different. "Has an imaginative approach" could mean "Makes paper aeroplanes out of the worksheets". "Good at decision making" might mean "Bosses the other kids about and doesn't listen to their point of view".