This is how many trusts feel as they grow and merge when trying to manage technology. At first it can seem daunting but setting a clear strategy and medium-term plan is a key part of a trust’s development, in the same way that setting a Highway Code will ensure everyone is driving in the same direction and at the same speed.
In a recent piece of research into trust challenges, due for release this week, The Key found that more than 70% of respondents believe that technology has the ability to ‘reduce workload,’ ‘increase productivity’ and ‘improve staff knowledge’ and it is important that they know how to put it to good use in order to make the most of these benefits.
Building operational consistency
Operational consistency is the term used to describe the simple things that make a huge difference to staff and leaders in a trust – being able to log-in at any workstation across the trust, being able to access wireless internet in any trust school, or meeting with a school using video conferencing, are just some of the first steps in helping staff to work flexibly and save time.
Making central decisions on the hardware and software solutions (MIS, assessment, payments, finance, wireless, laptops and all other aspects of ICT) that you want across the trust will allow you to provide training to enable your staff to make the most of the tools at their disposal.
Building consistency using cloud services such as Office 365 and Google Apps will help to embed them into your schools immediately whilst you begin to replace the hardware and software within schools. This consistent approach to IT within your trust will allow a snowball effect for efficiency, saving both money and time and allowing you to concentrate on teaching and learning.
Streamline communications and the flow of information
In any large organisation, the distribution of information and communications are one of the key problems that technology can be used to solve. Making sure that staff have seen and know where to look for information is essential to the successful operation of your trust.
Technologies such as email, blogs, videoconferencing, Microsoft Teams and SharePoint will allow you to ensure that information is seen by those who need it and without it becoming too onerous for staff across the trust. Using more communication paths for information with different priorities will help you to streamline your communications to staff without filling inboxes with information.
Manage compliance requirements
Awareness of our compliance requirements and the rights of staff, students and parents are at an all-time high and we need to transition to appropriate technologies to safeguard information. This is a challenge as a trust grows, especially with disparate technologies and suppliers. Ask the questions:
- How do you know that your data is secure?
- How do you know that the data you are keeping is relevant?
- What proactive measures are in place to protect your information?
Take the lead
Taking the lead with technology becomes more important as trusts grow. There will be challenges and change with technology, but it is important to embrace its benefits early and get buy-in from colleagues.
Ben Ford, ICT Manager, Bath and Wells Multi Academy Trust