While no two schools are the same, there are certain core challenges that affect most schools at some time or another. We’ve seen this first-hand after having spoken to over 2,000 schools and asking them what their top priorities are. Across the board, their individual challenges largely fit into these three areas:
- Need to save money
- Need to save time
- Need to boost student attainment
We’re not the experts in solving all these issues (unfortunately). However, we are experts in helping schools find providers who are specialists in these areas and have the tools to help you get there.
So, we thought we’d put together this blog sharing our tips on how to find the right solution for your school to tackle each of these areas. We hope it helps!
Okay. So you need to save money?
I don’t think there are very many schools for whom saving money isn’t a leading concern. So when it comes to choosing how and where to spend those over-stretched budgets, making the right choices is of paramount importance. No school can afford to waste money on a ‘solution’ which just causes more headaches and is a drain on the purse. Here’s some advice on how to ensure you’re getting the right provider for whatever you may need:
- Compare and contrast. This might seem obvious, but taking the time to properly assess who and what options are available to you will put you in good stead to make the right decision. However, don’t be led solely on the price of a solution; that’s rarely a good indication of quality. The metric to use is impact. The best way to assess impact is to speak to other schools that have worked with various providers to get a benchmark for successful implementation. At Nexus, we have ‘potential impact’ scored from over 1,000 schools rating 200+ solutions, which makes this step easy. But most providers have testimonials on their website- speak to the schools directly to get a second opinion.
- Watch, listen and trust your instincts. When speaking to a potential provider, or listening to their pitch, consider how good the person is at explaining how to use their solution and how it will help your school. Does it sound like they’re reading off a script, or do they seem to really know their stuff? Trust your instincts, because you need to be able to really know how it’ll work. Don’t be afraid to ask difficult questions to be sure you get it right!
- Is it simple? A provider might offer a highly sophisticated solution to your schools’ needs, but if you aren’t going to be able to get staff on board quickly and easily, or if their training is sub-par, it could well be a waste of time and money. Be sure to ask about their training provisions, and if any additional costs are attached. If a provider is a little more expensive but has top-notch onboarding, it could well be worth the investment.
Did you know…we can help with all the above (for free)?
Our 90-minute NeXworking sessions offer school groups who attend our provider research events £1000, simply for attending and providing solutions with feedback? If you’re looking for new ideas, a NeXworking event could be a great way of finding the right solutions for your school AND boosting your budget. Book a call with one of the team to find out more
How can you save time?
Many providers of school solutions claim to be able to save teachers’ time, but be sure to drill down into just how this is the case. Is it a solution that will cut down repetitive admin tasks, meaning the time-saving aspect of their solution is one that’ll be hard to fully appreciate? Is it a solution that will make a certain task easier and quicker, which may lead to improved student attainment? Here are some questions you can ask prospective providers to help narrow this down…
- How did you measure your solutions’ time-saving capabilities?
- How closely did you work with teachers when establishing how to save them time?
- Are there any guarantees of time-saving with your solution?
- If this solution isn’t saving our teachers time as claimed, will we be able to terminate our contract/get a refund?
- How many schools do you currently work with and do you have any case studies to back up the claims?
It’s a stereotype of British people that we simply put up with things that aren’t working for us, in order to save awkward conversations around accountability. But with budgets as tight as they are, and demands on teachers’ time more stretched than ever, asking these difficult questions now can help ensure you find providers who are worth your time (and money!) and don’t leave you with regrets.
Top Tip for Time Saving…
Avoid those sales calls and keep your search for providers online. Did you know our NeXworking events are now done through Zoom? In just 90 minutes you can hear pitches and ask questions in an obligation-free setting with providers tailored to your schools’ needs, all without having to leave the comfort of your office!
“Keeping it online is a much more efficient use of our headteachers’ time. They only had to give up an hour and a half to see 5-6 providers, which were focused on their requirements.”
– Keith Greenwood, Warrington Local Authority
How can I boost attainment?
The ultimate goal for all schools, there is a seemingly infinite number of providers offering solutions for boosting student attainment. However when it comes to identifying the right provider for your schools’ needs, it can be hard to see the wood for the trees, particularly because you’re often not comparing like for like. A mental health and wellbeing resource can’t be compared with a maths app. Here’s some advice on ensuring you get it right.
- The research starts at school. Making rushed decisions on committing to providers too independently of the classroom teachers’ needs can mean a waste of time and money on solutions which aren’t going to hit the mark. Spend time consulting your classroom teachers to find out what their pain-points are, and where there are particular obstacles to teaching and learning. This might take some time, but it’ll give you invaluable insights into your schools’ true needs.
- Map out clear outcomes. Following your research, identify what the clear outcomes need to be. When speaking with prospective providers, ask the questions which will allow you to identify how they will help your school to meet those objectives. Be sure to look for clear answers and breakdowns of how these will be achieved, and how they can be tracked.
- Don’t be swayed by good marketing. Now you’ve clarified your objectives, any time you’re talking to a provider, ask yourself ‘is purchasing this going to help me meet my objective?’ Some resources are great, and offer a lot to schools- but aren’t specialised enough, or don’t have sufficient evidence of demonstrating a return on schools’ investment when it comes to attainment. You’re better off spending more with a few excellent providers who will help your school hit its targets, than spread your budget too thin trying to cover every single base.
Whatever your schools’ needs, there will be someone out there who can help. Former headteacher, Keith Greenwood, offers his three closing thoughts to consider when it comes to selecting providers for your school:
- “Recommendations from other Heads goes a long way. If they’re willing to advocate for something, it’s usually worthwhile considering, so don’t be afraid to ask around.”
- “Scout online and around your networks to see if a provider has a good reputation. There’s a certain safety in numbers, so you know it’s more likely to be a savvy investment. Why not build a network or community of other local headteachers, if there isn’t one already?”
- “Rapport counts for a lot. If you get on well with people from providers you’re speaking to, if they’re easy to get hold of and your gut says you can trust them, then that sets you in great stead for a positive relationship.”
If you’re looking for a way to find the right providers for your school needs, without taking up too much time or needing to trek across the country, our virtual NeXworking events could be for you. We speak to schools attending the events to identify their needs, then hand pick 6 trusted partners to attend the event. You get to hear their pitches and ask them questions live, all from the comfort of your desk!
Register your interest to see if you could join the next NeXworking event by filling in the form at www.nexus-education.com/nexworking.