Sirin Mohamed is an experienced School Operations Professional passionate about a child-centred ‘safe-learning environment’. He has been working with various schools across the UAE for over a decade and is well-versed with local Education authority statutes. As a zealous leader, Sirin is well-known for his versatile team-binding skills, strong ethics and integrity, and an empathetic and inspirational persona that drives him and those around him. He holds a Master’s in Human Resources Management; with a vision to foster teaching and learning; as a safe, stimulating and enriching experience for the teachers and students.
Best practices for K12 school operations differ for various reasons, even though some uncompromised elements surface, irrespective of the differences in operational practices. Here are some relevant points which could be considered for the best practices. Implementation of the below text might be debatable, but the understanding and awareness can never be. We are involved with an unwavering commitment to grooming the next generation because of our k12 community.
Safe Learning Environment
One key step is preparing a safe learning environment at school which is the key success of every operations manager. Effective learning will only take place in a safe and secure environment. Ensuring such in every classroom before students and teachers arrive is the prime focus of the school operations team. A safe learning environment and safeguarding are built around policy, procedure and process to reduce or eliminate risk. Principles of safeguarding should be embedded with empowerment, prevention, partnership, accountability and protection. Risk assessment is another major task that helps identify the risk in advance so that the prevention methods can also be fixed before the incident/accident occurs. Effective safeguarding will never be far away if this combination of preventive steps comes together.
Recording and Reporting
A good recording and reporting system will give ample space for all staff to share and report their concerns related to maintenance, incident or accident. An open policy of recording maintenance helps the staff members to share their concerns about what is happening in the facility and premises around them. An effective reporting system will help identify the operational risk factors early. Each staff should understand the importance of why they need to report an accident or incident on time and how this benefits their peer or children. Through frequent workshop/training, uplift the staff about the importance of reporting; once every member shares the same page of understanding, a collective responsibility develops high operational practice. The operation manager’s monthly self-compliance checklist should also give insight and self-realisation about the existing system. This whole process will reflect the culture of working togetherness throughout the school.
Communication and Relationship Building
Two effective features of a school are communication and relationship building. Best operational facts evolve around communication and relationship building among stakeholders, especially between home and school. Under any circumstance, no stakeholder should leave the operation manager’s office saying my concerns/questions/complaints are unattended. A school is successful with strong communication links of all stakeholders working together. Feedback is the core element of a healthy relationship. If the stakeholders are getting a space to share their thoughts or views about the betterment of an existing scenario, that has to be encouraged and through that process relationship with the school starts. Ensuring everybody gets an equal opportunity to share their concerns makes the school dependable. Relationship building is one of the KPIs defining the efficiency of a school. Operational managers’ key strategy should progress through effective communication and healthy relationship with stakeholders.
A recent study shows that most parents choose the school based on the availability of school transport. 30 to 40 minutes or lesser are considered as an ideal time for one way for their ward. Good route planning will encourage parents to choose school transport above their own vehicle. Offering a discounted price for the nearby school location and through that, if we can reduce the traffic chaos, parents shouldn’t be worried about leaving the office.
Parents are worried about leaving the offices twice a day for drop off/pick up and a large number of parents’ entry at the same time creates traffic chaos in front of the school. To overcome this, the school should offer at least discounted bus fees to parents at nearby locations. This scenario could improve school transport revenue and reduce traffic during peak hours.
School transport is the only defined space where students of the same school interact and socialise with different age groups and learn social standards. Constructive social platforms are much essential and helpful in boosting the mental well-being of the students. Proper awareness to the parents about additional benefits of school transport rather than a commuting solution is a selling point.
School bus assistant also plays a crucial role here. They are the only key point of contact for most parents daily. Proper training and guidelines empower them to interact with parents confidently, and thus parents will place themselves in a comfort zone. Once the comfort zone is developed, parents will think about the continuation that helps the school achieve one of the KPIs.
Operations managers’ frequent and timely involvement in reviewing the school transport process is highly recommended to streamline towards parents and child convenience without losing the school’s financial feasibility.
Budget Management and Cost control
Once the budget is finalised, adequate measures are to be placed to monitor the budget. During the post-budget scenario, value for money and accountability should be the key tool of budget management and how it impacts the school improvement plan (SIP).
The operations manager should be aware of the logical sequence of the school improvement plan and its short-term and long-term goals. The school improvement plan is an agreed document with the input of governors and SLT. Keeping in mind the content of SIP will be an easy process for the operation manager to make a good decision. If it’s a long-term target, he should be flexible with the quality of the purchasing product or vice versa. Such choices are easily made only if you clearly understand the SIP.
During the purchase process, value for money should be the prime factor before signing the LPO. Along with that, develop the importance of accountability for the decision-making process. If we are held accountable or assigned to, the responsible employee will take a more cautious approach while taking decisions.
All stakeholders’ inputs are valuable for cost control. Asking secondary students for support to supervise energy saving after class is one of the practical steps. Turning off AC and lights in the secondary section classroom is a good assignment they could collectively finish in less than 5 minutes. Besides, they could apply the same initiative at home to reduce the monthly utility bills. This will give confidence to the secondary students to place their thoughts about the future with the components of social responsibility. Moreover, a stable relationship is built between school and home, attaining one more KPI.