Take the stress out of the new school year.

As the students prepare to finish school, the administration staff are preparing for some testing times in order to get everything up-to-date and filed away in order to get the new school year off to a positive start.

If you don’t set aside the time, you’ll never find the time.

The end of the year is a busy time for school administration staff and finding the time for a dedicated file tidy up can be difficult (if not near impossible). A dedicated tidy up session doesn’t just happen, it needs to be planned, a time allocated and at least one person put in charge. All documents and records need to be retrieved from classroom, cabinets and cupboards. These all then to be sorted, labeled and catalogued in line with the school’s established filing hierarchy. Someone needs to decide on what files need to be kept, what ones can be archived or moved to storage and what ones will be need close at hand for the new year and what ones, if any can be securely destroyed. Oh, and don’t forget to sort those boxes that were moved out to the shed! Your person in charge will require a good understanding of filing systems and the school’s legal responsibilities regarding document handling and retention periods. It’s big job, that will take time, but done right it will save you a lot of lost time throughout the entire year to come.

TIP: Consider hiring professional help.

Weigh up your staff work loads and skill sets and be realistic, sometimes outsourcing a dedicated Records Manager can save you in more ways than one. Their experience means tasks are done efficiently, accurately, reducing the overall time needed whilst ensuring all legal compliances are met to industry requirements. Staff are freed up to address all the other ‘end-of-school’ requirements that need to be done and your specialist may also be able to recommend some more efficient systems and protocols you could implement based on their hands-on involvement.

TIP: A place for everything and everything in the right place.

It sounds simple but throughout a busy school year it’s inevitable that documents will be misplaced, files and records will migrate to rooms and places unknown and what was ample filing space is now crowed space. It’s not uncommon during a school year for files to get placed in cupboards to be filed later and then forgotten. While older documents get moved into boxes to make storage space for all the new records in the archive room. The boxes? Well they get moved somewhere out-of-the-way for now!

TIP: Time for a dedicated tidy up session.

It’s the best way to ensure that all school documents get correctly sorted, catalogued and filed back in their correct locations. Make sure you take the time to ensure everything is correctly labeled and accounted for in your cataloging system, and it’s worthwhile having a supply of folders, and archive boxes so you can sort things as needed. If you don’t have a proper cataloguing system now is the perfect time to start one. A proper data-base will save you time and effort next year.

What once was ‘best practice’ could now be ‘old hat’.

 Every school generates a myriad of types of documentation every year and these all have to be reviewed and filed. Student assessment files, exit files, ICT policies, medical records, permission slips and attendance roles; these all have different retention and compliance associated with them, then there’s all the files associated with just running the school, paying staff, repairs, stationary etc. Everything needs to be processed and filed. You’ve been doing it for years, but when was the last time you really reviewed your procedures and systems. Are they still Best Practice? Could you be doing things more efficiently? What are other schools doing?

Often an external overview can identify efficiencies that can be gained in current systems and highlight opportunities to update procedures and processes to improve productivity. From better filing systems to save space, increasing storage and providing improved access and safety to digital solutions that can be used as an archive repository for many of these forms with staff accessibility, or a system enabling students and parents to log on and upload completed forms and policies. Digital archive repositories can also be used to maintain school maintenance records and include version control and VERS compliance.

TIP: An annual review of all cataloguing and filing processes is a good way to ensure you are getting the most out of your current system.

An annual audit of all cataloging and filing processes is a good way for the school to ensure that all staff are following correct filing procedures and the school is legally compliant. A review can identify areas of inefficiencies and identify opportunities for improvements in line with current best practices.

How can we help?

Formfile have recently helped a number of schools improve their entire filing process. Our consultants implemented new systems to reduced lost and misplaced files, identified ways to increase storage without increasing floor space and consolidated archiving procedures so boxes were no longer were spread across random storage spaces and almost impossible to access without considerable time and effort. Introduced new digital office systems, streamlining accessibility and accuracy and complimenting their current paper-based document filing system. We also converted a number of paper file to digital files and provided secure off-site archiving for files that needed to be kept for legal purposes, but no longer in use. Finally we disposed of ‘dead’ documents in our certified destruction facility and continue to provide ongoing support as needed. Formfile specialise in school archiving solutions from paper based to database. Our Consultancy Team can come into your school and do a full review in as little as three days without interrupting daily operations. Our knowledge of document management systems, on and off-site archiving solutions and document destruction procedures, along with our understanding of the retention periods associated with various school based documents means we can identify and create better efficiencies within your school’s existing system from document creation to destruction. If you’re interested, we can even evaluate the benefits and costs associated with switching to a more efficient, timesaving system such as Formfile’s Digital Office.

If you would like to learn more about how we helped them, or how we could help your school, please call our Consultancy Team on 1800 FORMFILE to arrange an obligation free discussion.

About the Author

PhD in European Languages and Cultures (specialising in Literary Translation) Department of International Studies Macquarie University