It’s no secret that humans don’t like change. If it comes down to doing it how we’ve always done it versus adopting a new way of doing things – chances are, we’re going to opt for the former. That’s why so many types of establishments, not just schools, still rely heavily on paper-based processes and communication. This is obviously prominent across all areas of an educational establishment, from classroom worksheets to registers, but we see it a lot on our travels in parental engagement. Schools are still relying on the age-old tradition of the letter home to parents, the printed school newsletter, and the “cut here” permission slip to be handed into the teacher ahead of a school trip.
Well, we think there has to be a better way. With the solutions on offer nowadays from a technology perspective, there really is no reason why you can’t go paperless; at least in some areas like parental engagement (even if you’re not ready to take the plunge completely).
That being said, with a completely open and positive view of the world, let’s have a look at 4 key benefits of being a paperless school.
The simple fact is, paper-based communication is not secure. Even if you keep your paper-based records in a cupboard or filing cabinet under lock and key, people make mistakes. Documents can get left on desks, destroyed, or picked up by the wrong person. Safeguarding is of paramount importance in any education institution, and distributing or making available potentially confidential and sensitive information on paper is a real security risk. Not to mention the nightmare you would no doubt have trying to prove GDPR compliance for paper-based personal data records. Ditching printed records and communications for encrypted, backed up, and protected digital ones, helps you ensure that everything is secure, compliant, and above all, not likely to be stumbled upon by the wrong person.
A common objection to the move to paperless is how long it will take for staff to get used to new processes and technology. However, as long as you get the training and adoption programme right, there’s no denying the time-saving factor that comes with getting rid of paper-based processes. Think of the time it takes at the moment for a school administrator or office manager to type out a letter to parents, “mail merge” them (if necessary), print, fold, envelope, and send. Now think about how long it would take to write a message, which could be personalised automatically with the right tools, and click “send”, simultaneously landing it in the inbox of all the parents in the school. We’re not just talking hours versus minutes – more like hours versus seconds. The time you save by eliminating paper-based processes can then be spent on more valuable activities like providing much needed support and driving more effective parental communication.
Probably the most obvious benefit of switching to paperless processes – a reduction in printing costs. Paper, toner, ink, maintenance of your MFDs, breakdown and repair costs – it can all add up to a hefty annual bill. Putting paperless processes in place may not even require any additional investment, save for some apps and tools for things like parental engagement, which are relatively inexpensive in comparison. We often find that many schools already have the technology in place to go paperless; they’re just, like the rest of us, dealing with change management, and happy to go on as they were. It’s not necessarily about throwing loads of cash at a technology investment; it’s about a shift in mindset, and a redesigning of process.
Be more sustainable
As an establishment which is responsible for moulding the minds of the next generation, making sure they have a safe and sustainable world to succeed in should be a priority. The environmental impact of paper usage is significant – and the paper production industry impacts everything from air pollution to non-renewable resources. It is estimated that 26% of solid municipal waste in landfill sites is discarded paper, a staggering statistic. Reducing or removing (as much as possible) your school’s contribution to this is a statement not only to parents, but to students, that you are committed to protecting the environment for future generations. You can even involve your teaching staff in figuring out how to work this positive move it into the curriculum. This sets a great example for your students, who will be responsible for making the same conscious decisions in the decades to come.
Paperless parental engagement
It’s not feasible to make as radical a change as switching to a completely paperless school overnight, but you can start by migrating some processes and activities away from being paper-based. We can help you fully digitise your parental engagement activities, saving time, saving money, and saving the environment, all by switching over to technology like that found within the Weduc app. If you would like to learn more about how we could help you – book a 20 minute virtual demo.