Luke Craig is a Technology Lead Practitioner at Britannia Education Trust and has been supporting Dawlish Primary School, which is part of the Opossum Federation in East London. The federation has been involved in the Department for Education's EdTech Demonstrator Programme since October 2020.
The Opossum Federation has been supported by the EdTech Demonstrator Programme to use technology and reduce staff workload. Here are three examples of what we achieved together:
1. Creating an online contact form for parents
We used to provide our generic school email address on the website as a way for parents to get in contact. However, the email address received hundreds of emails every day. It took a member of the administrative team an estimated 45-60 minutes daily to sift through emails and forward the important ones on to relevant staff members. Occasionally important messages were missed.
After discussing the issues, we created an online form available on the website that parents could use to submit a message. It included a drop-down menu with a list of categories and when the form was submitted, it would trigger a script that would email the message directly to the relevant member of staff.
Parents, governors, office staff and Head of Schools have all been very pleased with how effectively this works and the time saved.
2. Using an automated annual leave system
When members of staff from across the federation needed to request leave, the process was time consuming, required printed sheets and could be unclear.
Together, we devised an online solution that meant staff requesting leave would fill in an online form. This sent an automatic email to the Head of School responsible for that member of staff. They could then view the request and decide to agree/deny it from within a spreadsheet. The staff member would then be emailed automatically with the decision and any comments.
If the member of staff was granted leave, our shared school calendar would automatically be updated to show the dates that they would be absent. It also created a record of all staff leave requests stored in one place, meaning less paperwork and a clearer system allowing for easy analysis.
3. Giving system access to those who need it
The school has many online classrooms to manage through an online learning platform. Occasionally, a teacher or student would not have been added to their intended classroom and only the class teacher could amend this. This often created a bottleneck, with admin staff spending much of their time chasing class teachers to add people to their classroom.
We devised a system that allowed the administrative team to access all the online classrooms to add/remove individuals, reducing the pressure on class teachers to do this.
Get support from an EdTech Demonstrator school
The Opossum Federation was supported by the DfE's EdTech Demonstrator Programme which provides free help and advice on educational technology to any publicly-funded school, trust or FE institution in England.
Tailored support is delivered by EdTech Demonstrator schools and colleges to help reduce workload, use resources more effectively and improve student outcomes.
For more information and to register for support, schools and colleges can visit the EdTech Demonstrator Programme website.
Find out more about reducing teacher workload
For more tips from senior leaders on how to reduce workload, download Tips for School Leaders. The Workload Reduction Toolkit provides practical advice and tools for school leaders and teachers to help review and reduce workload.