Will Academy Schools Go Paperless?

Paperless school
Author: Richard Shaw
Posted: March 21, 2016

Last October, PM David Cameron announced that he wanted every school in England to become an academy. This plan was confirmed by the chancellor George Osborne in Wednesday’s Budget, with a deadline of 2022.

It’s a move designed to transfer power away from local authorities and give head teachers or principals control over how schools are run. The new academies will be overseen by academy trusts, who will provide advice and support, while giving schools more freedom to innovate.

Ignoring the fact that, if the draft legislation goes through, the conservatives will have effectively (and stealthily) semi-privatised the education system, we thought we’d assess whether the academy approach would better position schools to go paperless.

Introducing Innovation

The government claims “academisation” is about introducing innovation, so it stands to reason that academies and academy chains will be encouraged to adopt new technology to improve collaboration and increase efficiency.

Electronic Document Management (EDM) or a cloud-based Document Management System (DMS) would allow academies to streamline their workflow processes and manage a vast number of documents more effectively.

Academies will have full control of their admissions process and can even opt out of the national curriculum, so it’s vital they have a secure and compliant system in place.

Documents pertaining to HR and admissions, management and reporting, student records, Ofsted reports, syllabus information, exams and course work, health and safety, and facilities management can all be captured, indexed, validated and stored for delivery or retrieval by department and throughout the academy chain.

A Cost-Effective Solution

Traditionally, academies have received a modest funding increase from the Department for Education to assist with the conversion, and in some cases, have had their budgets topped up by 10% for support services. This would more than cover the cost of implementing a DMS with advanced features, such as version control, audit trails, access privileges and disaster recovery.

Converting to an academy, with greater autonomy, would provide a “clean slate” for schools to rebrand themselves as paper-free or paper-lite organisations. A move towards computers and tablets in the classroom (rather than paper and text books) and digital workflows in the back office (rather than printing and copying physical documents) would all be steps in the right direction.

The potential cost savings and increases in productivity across the board can be significant.

The paper-free school has been talked about for some time, but we expect the introduction of academies to pave the way for forward-thinking head teachers to make the decision to go paperless.

If you’d like to discuss a paperless document management solution for your school or business, please get in touch with our expert consultants today.