Like many schools, Ashford School and Ashford Friars Prep School had a manual process of managing their school trips which worked, but it needed to change. With ever-improving IT capabilities and the time of teachers and the leadership team becoming ever more squeezed, they knew there had to be a better way.
1. Identify your problem(s)
First, identify what it is you want to improve. For managing school trips this could be the authorisation process taking too long or being unclear, consent forms taking too long to come back, risk assessments not being completed properly, teachers struggling to follow your trip-management policies or maybe it is just that you want to cut back on the amount of paper in your school. Whatever it is, identify what it is that really makes you want to improve your trip-management process.
Ashford wanted a solution to replace their cumbersome paper-based trip-planning procedures and documents. Nicky Timms of Ashford School commented: “We found that although our paper-based system worked, it was time-consuming to complete, we had to wait for signatures on documents and had problems tracking paperwork as it moved around the school. We also felt that there was an inconsistent approach to planning trips.”
2. Research the options
The problems you identified in step one will guide you in what you need to look for to improve. This could be new documentation and training for your teachers, using your current tools like email and shared network folders in a smarter way, or a third-party tool to help consolidate your trip management. Research the exact problems you are having online, you are sure to come across people with similar problems to see how they solved them.
For Ashford, Timms attended a marketing event run by eduTrips and was impressed with the solutions the system provided.
She explained: “What attracted me to the system was the easy-to-follow step-by-step process eduTrips takes you through when planning a trip. Everything is online, making it easy to access.”
What attracted me to the system was the easy-to-follow step-by-step process eduTrips takes you through when planning a trip
3. Iron out the implementation and avoid new problems
Once you have decided on a way forward, make sure you work with the relevant people to ensure it is adopted. This could include your teaching colleagues, bursar, EVC and IT – a good third-party supplier will be able to handle this for you.
If you are using one of the third-party tools out there, ensure it can sync your student data to easily create your passenger list, enable one click parental consent and automatic trip-authorisation requests based on your school policies. For bonus points they will also be able to support you with training. Just ensure it covers everything you identified in step one.
Also, make sure you trial any new system or process before committing 100%.
4. Run with it and be on hand for support
When you implement your change, you will start seeing some immediate benefits, but there will also be some people who need a little extra support to get going. Make sure it is clear for them where they can go for support.
After choosing eduTrips, Timms commented: “We have found the system is much less time consuming to use and one of the most useful features is the way parental consent is all done online and very simple to track. The staff have adapted to the system very well and we have been so impressed with the system that we recommended our prep school also adopt it, which they now have.
“The support from eduTrips staff has been excellent with queries being answered promptly and the answers have been very thorough and easy to understand.”
5. Continually review
Finally, you should never assume that just because a process has been running for a long time that it is working well. Periodically review how the new trip management process is working, ask the users what they think, check that your third-party provider is improving and adding new features.
If you would like to explore how you can improve your trip management, sign up for a free trial with our exclusive discount code for this edition of Independent Education Today. Use IND0919 for 10% off your first year.
Chris Morledge has spent over eight years working in school travel and has over 20 years’ experience building software. He has always believed in the benefits of running school trips and his mission is to improve the process wherever he can.