Guest author: Mark Anderson, Head of Education at NetSupport and ICT Evangelist
Performance management is something we all must endure – I mean, enjoy. In seriousness, the purpose of the activity is to work with teachers to create objectives (not targets) to work towards during a review cycle. They are a great way of drawing a spotlight onto the key activities that individuals within a school can be working towards.
Targets for change
Often, they are linked to whole-school targets or initiatives such as those on the School Improvement/Development Plan. An example of an objective might be:
"Develop strategies to increase opportunities for students to use ICT to demonstrably develop their technology skills to enhance their learning."
Ultimately, their purpose is to ensure colleagues are actively seeking to develop and improve their practice and that they are undertaking the activities they are supposed to in their day-to-day work within the school. Part of this is to consider and reflect upon whether or not the investment made in employing that person is bringing a return for learning, department/faculty or whole-school improvement. The phrase used in industry is a ‘return on investment’ or ROI.
It’s obviously far more detailed than this, and often involves lots of careful thinking to generate meaningful objectives for colleagues to work towards, but essentially, at a basic level, you are looking to seek an ROI for the activities colleagues undertake within a school.
ROI – so what?
It has long been my opinion that whilst there is this long-established process in schools which looks to ensure an ROI from the work of teachers, there are other areas where the same level of scrutiny and expected ROI just don’t exist.
When exploring what schools spend on using statistics from places such as these Official Government Statistics and National Funding Formula information, it can be calculated that schools spend 10.9BN a year on teachers – but just as compelling is that schools also spend 1.18BN a year on IT and other teaching resources. Therefore, whilst these spends equate to approximately 10% of what is spent on teaching staff, the numbers involved are so huge, we should really ensure we are looking to get that ROI on things such as IT in the school and other resources purchased to support and enhance teaching and learning.
How can we do that?
Sometimes you know where you can squeeze more out of technology that has reached the end of its usable life. A good example of this would be a project inspired by some of my previous students who took end-of-life machines that were going to be recycled and repurposed them with the support of our technical team to turn the PCs and their monitors into digital signage units around the school. This for us was a fantastic way to make use of machines that were paid for and were otherwise going to be scrapped. Sharing school life, progress and learning via the digital signage was a fantastic way to promote the best of what was happening around the school. From messages for parents on the signage in reception to sharing about progress in the schools’ House Competition – there were many ways that it helped extend information to stakeholders in and across the school site.
Sometimes though, it’s a bit more difficult to unpick where those savings or initiatives can be found. Enter NetSupport DNA!
Why NetSupport DNA?
Our multi-award-winning solution, backed by our superb support team, makes it easy for decision makers in the school to look at what resources across your digital real estate are really being used.
One example is, if you’re being asked to renew a licence, NetSupport DNA can tell you how much utilisation it has had. You can use that information to have professional conversations about whether the cost of that licence gives you that all-important ROI you seek to achieve.
Another way in which NetSupport DNA can help you save money and even extend the life of your hardware is to use its helpful power management tools to ensure machines are turned off overnight. It can also help you to save time and money by scheduling in automatic software distribution, ensuring everything is all updated and sorted for colleagues to make best use of software, as and when they need it.
Another feature that schools love is where you can clearly see where, when and how frequently hardware is being used. So, if you discover that, let’s say, Business Studies aren’t making frequent use of the 20 PCs in their faculty, you can deploy them elsewhere in the school where they will be used more frequently.
In a world where it is clearly important to get a return on your investment in all aspects of spending, not just that on teachers, NetSupport DNA is your valuable and insightful tool that will help you find out, “is the juice really worth the squeeze?”.