Schools are always striving for the same thing – to provide the highest level of care and service to their students and staff.
Yet with budget cuts, staff shortages, and increasing pressure to meet targets, sometimes it can seem like an impossible task.
Don’t worry. There are still simple adjustments you can make both to the building, and the school’s culture, which will result in an overall improvement.
1. Safeguarding is Key
First and foremost, parents expect their children to be safe and cared for when they go to school.
In an increasingly dangerous world, it is becoming ever more important that schools have the strictest safeguarding methods in place.
DBS checks are essential for every member of staff connected to your school, but maintaining files on every single employee and visitor can be time-consuming and, occasionally, something may slip through the net.
To comply with Ofsted, you must have all DBS checks fully up to date on your system at all times. InVentry offers a built-in DBS Checker which you can use to upload and check multiple DBS records in one go. From there, it’s just a simple sign in for your visitors, with printed ID badges highlighting the DBS checked info.
The system will even let you know when someone’s DBS needs to be renewed, so you never get caught out by an out-of-date ID.
2. Encourage Green Fingers
It may seem cosmetic, but improving the look and feel of your school will have a positive impact on both staff and students who, after all, spend a significant part of their daily lives there.
Make sure dingy walls are cleaned and painted, and introduce plants or even trees, where appropriate, to the school building and surrounding areas.
Not only will planting seeds or flowers capture the students’ imaginations, it can also be used to provide real-life examples for a whole host of science, such as photosynthesis.
If you are looking to create a whole garden, you’ll need to check planning permissions etc, but even something as simple as a few ‘house’ plants will improve air quality in classrooms, offices and communal areas.
Depending on your budget and space allocation, you could take this a step further and invest in a herb and/or vegetable garden or allotment which will yield produce you can then use in school lunches and cookery classes.
3. Go Green
Going green doesn’t just mean getting to grips with the school garden. Encourage staff to embrace paperless offices (where possible) and introduce a culture of reduce, reuse, recycle, which staff and students alike can follow.
From recycling bins and choosing eco-friendly school supplies, to introducing carpooling or a ‘bike to school’ initiative, there are a number of small changes you can implement which will help to improve your school.
Melt down old wax crayons to make new, compost food waste to fertilise plants, and furnish any pet’s cages with shredded paper.
Solar panels may not be an option for your school, but you can still make sure you are conserving energy by switching off lights when they are not being used, and ensuring all doors and windows are closed come the end of the day.
4. Encourage Healthy Eating
Whether it’s introducing ‘meat-free Mondays’, always offering a vegetarian option on the lunch menu, or providing healthy snacks instead of the usual crisps and chocolate that children (and teachers) tend to snack on, healthy eating can have a positive effect on learning.
Studies have suggested that drinking water and snacking on a banana were linked to improved levels of concentration and engagement, leading both to be allowed in exam halls in some schools in recent years.
Ensuring there are no vending machines crammed full of sugary drinks and sweets on the premises is a good start, though.
You could also consider installing a water fountain and supplying children with a reusable water bottle, to encourage them to stay hydrated and cut down on plastic waste.
If your school has a tuck shop, try to introduce healthier options such as fruit, nuts, or nutrition bars here too.
5. Work Hard, Play Hard
It’s no secret that children learn better when they are engaged, and their minds are active. Government guidelines recommend children spend approximately four to six hours a day outside. Of course, this doesn’t mean you need to be taking students outside all the time, but some out of the box thinking can be beneficial. For example, if you are teaching science and discussing weather patterns, there’s no better place to do so than under the skies.
Of course, those hours won’t all come out of school time, otherwise, the students would never be in the classrooms!
However, after school sports clubs are great for building a team mentality and encouraging healthy competition.
By the same token, fitness or dance classes could be introduced for students who shy away from traditional sports teams but may show an aptitude in other areas, such as gymnastics.
Think about organising staff activities too, such as a staff only basketball hoop, to ensure agile minds amongst the teachers.
6. Go Beyond The National Curriculum
In England, we must teach according to the guidelines set out in the National Curriculum. However, whilst the structure and requirements are clearly set out here, there is room for creativity and involving different types of learning, such as Kinesthetic (learning through movement) and Visual, and Auditory.
Just because you’re told what to teach doesn’t determine how you get to teach it.
We mentioned taking students out of the classroom, but there are other ways to teach the core subjects.
Fire up students’ imaginations by involving them in group projects, find new ways of conveying essential information such as mind maps and educational games, and involve the students in your lesson plans, where appropriate.
You may find that the more input you get from your students, the better the results they produce at the end of the task.
7. Invest in Tech
We know that budget constraints mean it’s impossible to keep up to date with the latest technology and kit your students out with state-of-the-art models, but it is important that the technology in daily use is up to the job. Computers which are too old will require a lot of servicing and could actually end up costing you more in repairs.
Technology can also save time and energy, making it often the most efficient option and reducing administrative costs.
Why not hold a fundraiser so the students feel responsible for the products purchased off the back of their efforts?
This goes for any equipment which is past its sell-by-date, such as gym apparatus and science kit, which can become dangerous if not properly maintained.
8. Switch to an Online Integrated Visitor Management System