All great schools become great through great leadership and management. It is a complex organism which requires you to stay on top of your workload by delegating effectively and getting the best from your staff teams. Here's how...
Managing and operating a school is no easy task. It is a complex job that requires School Principals to be:
- Administratively competent - understanding what evidence needs to be secured, checked and archived with what level of frequency
- Organisationally excellent - being able to manage your time and structure the workflows of your setting (and the people within it) to deliver on every aspect of the school's operational requirement is tough
- Educationally awesome - working with your team to develop educational outcomes that are truly second to none, compatible with our brand and our ethos and valued by staff and parents alike requires creativity and pedagogical expertise
- Customer-centric - understanding that your staff and your parents and your children are your customers: they all have a vital part to play in the overall success of our school and so need to be treated with the utmost respect, consideration and compassion at all times with a can-do attitude that always strives to make it possible (wherever possible), communicated consistently and clearly at all times
- Managerially expert - knowing what to delegate, to whom, what training they'll need to do the job to the standard the company expects, how l0ng it will take (and you'll give them) and what to do if they can't do it...delegation, trust and individual agency and responsibility is absolutely central to what we do: you cannot do it on your own
|Leadership & management||Teaching & Learning||HR & Staffing||Child Protection & Safeguarding||Health & Safety|
|Customer & Community Relations||Sales & Marketing||Corporate Governance||Property, Operations & Systems||Finance & Procurement|
- Leadership, Management & Quality Control - to keep records of all room evaluations, policy evaluations and school development plans. It is also the folder that contains the schools Management Information Pack (google Sheet), which, along with the nursery management system (EY Log/ EY Man) is the primary data archive for management information for the school (more on that later).
- Child Protection & Safeguarding - all documentation and log files pertinent to safeguarding and child protection within your schools. We haven't, as of yet, identified a system that can adequately integrate with either the nursery management system, or our other apps, so this is primarily done via Google Sheets in the school's team drive
- Health & Safety - all documentation and records that prove you maintain a health and safety culture within the schools, undertaking risk assessments regularly and reporting on aspects like fridge freezer checks, allergy risk, outings management and more. We haven't as of yet identified a management system that effectively tracks and records things like daily risk assessments, or log checks on things like fire extinguishers, and so these files tend to be done by laminate template log, with a photo to be archived in the drive to prove that it has been done when required.
- HR & Staffing - all management reports pertinent to HR & Staffing in your school e.g. monthly sickness / payroll / training logs / supervision completion reports etc). Note that BambooHR is / will be the platform we use for day to day HR management, and should be the platform that allows us to generate reports for the most part and we are looking into new systems for training, such as Talent LMS, that might be able to generate reports of your staff teams progress against set and required training programmes
- Teaching & Learning - all documentation regarding children's language acquisition / development and progress reports should the nursery management system (EY Log/ Man) not suffice (see later note)
- Customer Relations & Communications - a folder to archive all correspondence and reports from external stakeholders: local authority / parents / Ofsted / commissioned consultants - things like PTA meeting minutes, logged complaint folders and resolutions; Local Authority inspection reports and feedback and Ofsted correspondence
- Sales & marketing - anything pertinent to the schools localised marketing strategy and / or sales contracts and registrations (should EY Log / Man and Hubspot not suffice)
- Corporate Governance - all companies house statutory reporting, board minutes and / or board notifications
- Property, Operations & Systems - all documentation regarding your school property ( leases / service contracts), legal documentation and insurances and systems that support your school (e.g. suppliers)
- Finance & Procurement - business planning and forecast reports plus procurement logs of materials purchased.
Consistent Structure / Architecture
These broad policy areas should be consistently reflected in the management systems we use to manage our schools:
- our Document folder architecture both within the school office and on the School's Drives (Google Drive), into which the school's administrative reporting of documents / evidence and archive materials will go. There are various templates available on the company's intranet BambooHR>Files) which staff can download and update and save in the appropriate location as and when required.
- Company Intranet - BambooHR has a specific location (Files) that provides staff with varying degrees of access so that they can both see the underlying policy and the supporting templates that help them develop the records to prove that they've completed or are completing the tasks outlined in their job description
- School Operating Calendars - the scheduling tools we use (Google Calendar) for the schools that should isolate and identify activities by work / policy area so that they can focus on one strategic area / day rather than try to tackle all on an ad hoc basis;
- Internal Comms - our Slack channels that the schools and central team use to communicate with one another
- Project management system - that integrates with both the school's operating calendars (to highlight when tasks fall due) and our internal comms platform, slack to allow use to create new tasks, timetable their delivery and assign to owners to action within the group.
We will run through this in subsequent training videos but to keep it simple: Policy>has connected Drive storage to contain archive records that act as evidence of your delivery of that policy>has related Google Calendar that can timetable and schedule your activities pertinent to that policy area> has connected project management schedule of tasks that the school principal is expected to fulfil to prove that the required outputs are delivered in that policy. More on this later but it is the most efficient way of staying on top of what you need.
The purpose of this note is to advise managers of the broad daily, weekly, monthly and termly outputs required to lead the setting. We will go into our Project Management systems and administrative approach in more detail in subsequent sessions
General Reporting / Administrative Approach:
The company has a dedicated intranet to provide staff with quick and ready access to any / all of the operating templates they need (be they a manager / school principal or a Room Leader). These templates should cover off most of the reporting required in our policy areas and can be found on the intranet (BambooHR)>Files>Manager Templates or Room Leader Templates.
We strongly advise that these are printed out and laminated (for repeated use, such that we can avoid unnecessary paper waste) and held on the managers clipboard and / or room leader clipboard. These should be kept on your person at all times, giving you immediate access to the templates you need at the time you need them.
Once a template is used, Room Leaders / Managers can take a photo on the room tablet and share it with the school principal directly using Slack, our internal communications platform. The school principal should review these shared files and then upload to the relevant document storage:
- BambooHR for all staffing / personnel records e.g. peer observations, performance management issues, disciplinaries, supervisions and appraisals, inductions etc
- EY Man / Log for all child documentation including behaviour management reports, incidents, medication forms etc
- Health & Safety folder on the school's team drive for all records regarding risk assessments, log checks etc
Our administrative protocol should see any document archive being named DDMMYY - Name of file, and stored in a chronological format on the required folder.
Nursery / Duty Managers will be present at the start of the day to undertake a daily site check (set up checklist) to ensure that the school is safe, welcoming and compliant prior to being. onthe door to welcome attending families into the school, taking note of who is absent for follow up post registration period (0900) and to ensure that all security for the school is maintained at all times (doors remaining closed). See our security and visitor management policy for more detail.
Principals need to ensure that families not in attendance are called no later than 0930 to ensure we can mark the registers accordingly, before reviewing the daily agenda for the rooms (what they're planning to do), the daily risk assessments that have been submitted and shared via Slack, our internal comms platform, and then moving onto the floor to undertake their room evaluations and work with the teams (on rotation by room) 1000-1200 daily
In the afternoons, Principals need office time to focus on:
- Sales calls - which is a daily requirement for the school principals to deliver 5 / day
- Strategic Planning - the more strategic / management reporting aspects of these policy areas. Each of them will require the Principal's review, to ensure that we are reviewing progress, inspecting the data, seeing how we can improve, and reporting to central management where and when required and needs to be undertaken 1-3 pm daily
The company has constructed a management routine that dedicates one afternoon / week to each policy area, with the project management system, Workast, set to have these replicated tasks open and available for you to review and mark as closed when complete. We'll go into this in more detail in subsequent sessions
Staff Training & Development
School principals need to spend time each week in the rooms to ensure that their knowledge of policy and procedures is continually reinforced from induction, through probation and beyond to their supervisions and appraisals. It is our policy to ensure that managers are working in the rooms every morning (supernumerary), after call outs have been made, to ensure that they can observe staff practice, check that they are adhering to the routines, collecting notices and observational data for their own performance management and supervisions of the staff team. We have a dedicated management routine (Google Calendar) that the school leadership should follow, which is accessible via our operating calendars and within the procedural help of this knowledge base, and a raft of templates that managers can use on their clipboards for this purpose, jotting down notes and feedback, all of which can be accessed on our intranet, BambooHR via the Files function>Manager Templates
This individual monitoring and assessment of practice is followed up with probationary meetings during the staffers probationary period within the business, with peer observations undertaken by room leaders and colleagues and via our supervision and performance management policies, all of which can be reviewed in subsequent articles within this knowledge base.
Managers need to hold one staff meeting / week at the end of the day / week to run through and wrap up what was great, and what could be worked on based on their observations of the school during that week. Again, we have set templates for this, held on the Team Drive for each school for the School Principals to work from and we strongly advise you diarise these meetings at a set time in your school operating calendars and attach the live agenda for all staff and management to review but principal points on the agenda include:
- Policy of the week: what is the policy focus that staff need to have reinforced learning in
- Deployment issues: any leavers / starters / probationary meetings/ those on holiday and time off floor booked into the nursery management system need to be talked through
- Children update: those leaving / starting / settling / any looked after children that need to be considered and any safeguarding & welfare or health and safety issues to be aware of
- Teaching & Learning: Monthly plans and curricula ideas, along with language lists for the month that our teachers should be aiming to teach our children to maintain their second language acquisition rates
- Operational issues: feedback from the staff team on issues with the facilities / systems / IT / policies that need redress from central management
Staff Meeting templates can be found in the company's intranet (BambooHR)>Files>Leadership & management templates
School Principals should also briefly audit and check key outputs each week, using the daily strategic focus to review:
- Teaching & Learning - have key workers developed good quality observations and are their children on track. Why not look at one room in depth / week, reviewing EY Man and EY Log reports and progress to see if everyone's profile is full, complete and with everything in order?
- Management information Pack - safeguarding log updates, management meetings, school development updates, behaviour management issues, SEN schedules etc
- Health & Safety - are all key logs from the rooms submitted? And are you acting on their information / archiving them in the health & safety folder (chronologically). Is there anything that the central team needs to understand RE facilities to plan (building works / replacement furnishings etc)
- HR & Staffing - who is behind on their observational outputs. Who keeps coming in late? Who requires a supervision or disciplinary? Any training outputs that are behind schedule? Whose policy knowledge requires further support. You should be able to audit outputs from BambooHR and file accordingly. Have you reviewed deployment for the forth coming two weeks to understand you've sufficient staff? Do you need to recruit? In what timeframe? Have you notified the central team?
- Leadership & management - staff meetings archived in the right place? Communications to the staff team gone out? Any updates on the room evaluations that could be communicated to the relevant staff team? What about your school development plan? Have you dedicated time to updating its contents to reflect your findings for the week?
- Child Protection & Safeguarding - is your management information pack updated with any incidents / issues arising? Have you communicated it to the central team via the firstname.lastname@example.org channel? Have you secured instruction from the central team to liaise with the local authority / LADO or Ofsted regarding any of these issues. Have you reviewed your incident folders for completeness?
- Finance & Procurement - have you reviewed the budget performance of your school (month end) to understand where you are hitting target or not? Have you considered how to reduce costs and improve operational performance? What work on sales is outstanding? Any ideas on marketing you can implement to build our community?
- Parent Comms - have you planned your parent newsletter for Friday pm? Do you know what you're communicating / selling? Any updates from the PTA actions you can illustrate as progress against their requirements? Any initiatives to build our community?
Inspections & Quality Assurance
These weekly visits by the School Principal should provide the time and the basis for the Room inspections to be undertaken by the Principal each month. Think of them as mini-Ofsted inspections, providing managers with the opportunity to become more strategic in their thinking about how to objectively inspect and review their teams and schools and an opportunity for the room Leader and his / her team to secure SMART objectives (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-based) that they can work towards to see their room improve. Managers will be able to access the Room Inspection templates set by the Company within the templates but principal areas include:
- Teaching & Learning: to what extent the boards and intentions are being delivered on the floor and are the routines being adhered to / children reaching their expected levels of pedagogical / linguistic development? We would expect the managers to have undertaken a review of the observational outputs of the key workers over this period, a review of the child's listed levels of development across all 7 areas, and an assessment of his / her language progress.
- Health & Safety: A review of the facilities and general state of the upkeep of the facilities to ensure that their risk assessments are in order and updated to know that the room and team are compliant, along with some assessment of their knowledge of our policies in this regard
- Administration: A review of the completeness of their children's profiles on the nursery management system and general record keeping regarding attendance, communication, sleep logs, toy cleaning logs, medication and dietary / allergy logs, nappy change logs and so on and so forth.
- Customer Experience: Speaking to the parents regarding their view of the room and securing this feedback in advance of the inspection, and during the inspection to review the orderliness and state of condition of the room itself - how well presented it is whether it reflects our company's values and brand.
- Staff Knowledge: A review of staff knowledge, practice and attendance within the space as a general audit to update the room leader with key monitoring areas for him / her to undertake over the forth coming month
As part of this process, we also expect Room Leaders to undertake their own mock inspection / self assessment each month as part of their own leadership training. Templates for their own internal review are available on the intranet>Files>Room leader templates and should be diarised in their own room calendars to ensure that they are maintained and delivered each month
And every month, managers need to use their management systems listed above and the Management Information Pack (Google Sheet) in their Leadership & Management Folder and the various management systems (EY Log / EY Man and BambooHR) to create PDF reports of key statutory information ahead of any potential Ofsted inspection, uploaded into the Management Information Pack folder on their team drive and then printed for the Ofsted folder. We want to be in a position that allows us to display all of the most recently updated Management Information within the nursery on a rolling monthly basis, supported by the full detail that can be found within the relevant management system. So think of how we can download and print off key data points, that if Ofsted require to see more evidence of, you can. Those management reports:
- HR & Staffing: BambooHR exports of:
- Single Central Record - full staff list, appointment dates, titles, DBS numbers, who it was checked by, date of receipt and renewal, relevant qualification, date of receipt and relevant NQF Level
- Staff Induction & Training schedules - date of induction, what was covered, by whom, feedback, what training was undertaken, date it was secured and date of renewal
- Safer Recruitment summaries: what vetting was done, when, who did it, what evidence was secured
- Staff Probation and Supervision schedules: what support / on-going basis do we provide staff through performance management
- Staff Disciplinaries / Grievance reports
- Staff Meeting Minutes
- Nursery Management
- Occupancy: Looking at current and forecast occupancy by room (EY Man export)
- Children's registers: numbers of children by age / room (EY Man export)
- Children's dietary / medical / allergy schedules (EY Man export)
- Parent & Emergency contact details (EY Man export)
- Staff Deployment: EY Man exports of staff deployment against children numbers
- Safeguarding: Logs and supporting evidence of safeguarding logs, allegations against staff; discrimination; SEN and EHC Plans
- Health & Safety: Risk management reports and logs of all H&S statutory documentation
- Teaching & Learning
- Planning - on the boards being delivered by the teams. What are we doing / what are we saying we're doing and is it being meted out in practice? (Google Calendar)
- Curriculum - the overarching learning strategies of the school and whether they're being delivered (Monthly Plans)
- Outcomes - measurable reports from EY Log on children's progress towards ELGs outlined in the EYFS 2021 (EY Log reports)
- Sales & Customer Relations:
Parent Feedback: complaints and resolution; surveys; PTA minutes
These reports are downloaded / exported as PDFs and re-uploaded to the Drive as a pack, stored with in your leadership & Management team drive>Management Information Pack Reports, for review with the Central Team
Central Management Meeting
Once a month you'll sit with the Head of Educational Operations to run through your management report above and also the CEO on your commercial performance against budget targets. There is an agenda on the first or second tab of your Management Information Pack, which can be downloaded as a PDF and uploaded to yoru Central management team meeting folder in Leadership & management in a DDMMYY - Management Meeting format
School Wide (Termly Inspections)
We also require the School Principal to compile his / her own Full School Inspection each term which will be presented to the Central team (specifically the head of educational operations) for her / his own review. Think of it as a SEF document of old - the templates are available on the company's intranet>Files>Leadership & management templates and have been structured against the requirements set out in the Early years Inspectors Handbook
The intention of these more expanded documents is to provide the school leader with a central place for all strategic input as to the tasks and objectives required to be met to achieve outstanding. The document lists out what the EY inspector will be looking for, allowing the Principal to evidence how / why his / her school has met those requirements with linked resource and evidence that can attest to that fact. The objective is to secure SMART objectives for each area of school development to focus the Principal's mind over the coming term, such that he /she can evidence progress against targets they can set themselves.
These school development plans are taken into consideration when the company's external consultant / auditors undertake their own termly assessments. They will expect to see the School Development Plan to compare against their own targets for the forth coming period and School Principals have these inspections as one of their key performance indicators for his / her performance management within the company.
Such termly inspections (both internal and external) need to be diarised into the school's operating calendars, with active documents attached, to ensure clarity of timeframe and deliverables for both the school manager, and the central executive.