Top Marks for Digital Innovation: The Changing Face of the School Office

Three Business Customer
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On: 13 Apr 2017
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Way2Pay Gaelcholaiste

Donncha Ó Treasaigh, Principal of Gaelcholáiste Luimnigh, can attest to how even in today’s digitised world, the reality in the education sector is much different to that of the private sector.

To most organisations, the idea of storing data on paper or taking only cash payments would seem archaic. Paper forms, receipts and reports are still commonplace in the majority of school offices, and the petty cash tin is still in daily use. From permission slips and payments for trips, to attendance records and school reports; paperwork and manual administration tasks are still a large part of the day-to-day for school staff.

Administrative Burden

While most organisations are enjoying the benefits of a paperless office, the administrative burden on schools that is caused by so much paperwork is challenging and brings risks. For example, manually trying to keep accurate records is likely to result in mistakes, and storing cash on-premises makes schools vulnerable to theft. However, innovation comes at a price and for schools facing ongoing austerity measures, the prospect of going digital may seem like a luxury rather than a necessity. While the education sector may be taking longer to fully embrace technology than other sectors, progress is being made.

Easing the Burden with Innovative Technology

In Gaelcholáiste Luimnigh, we are enhancing administration and education through innovative technologies, in as many ways as possible. Since the school opened in 2006, we have tried to have a dynamic and progressive approach to learning and support services. We have always embraced technology across every area of our school. In doing so, we are better able to offer our pupils modern and effective ways to gain the skills they need to progress through their school years and onto further education and the world of work.

We implemented Three’s Way2Pay system two years ago and it has transformed the way parents pay for school activities and the school’s payment administration processes. We have had an overwhelmingly positive response from parents and a 94% uptake in the cashless payment option. It allows us to schedule SMS notifications to parents and they can pay from their smartphones. Whether they pay via debit or credit card, or in cash, it is recorded in the system and receipts are automatically issued via text or email.

We’re embracing technology in the classroom too. The school is proud to have three Apple Professional Development Consultants (APDs), three Apple Distinguished Educators (ADEs) and one Apple Educational Strategic Planning Consultant (ESP) working in the school as teachers. This accreditation is part of a programme designed to recognise pioneers within education who are using Apple technology to transform learning and teaching. ADEs are part of a global community who collaborate with each other and work closely with Apple to lead innovation in education.

Balancing the Challenge of Change with the Benefits it brings

The school office is the operational hub for teachers, pupils, parents and visitors. It is an extremely busy environment that can make the implementation and management of change a challenge. That said, I believe the trend to transition from paper-based systems to a digital environment is inevitable and will only serve to ease challenges in the long term.

 

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