Management harmony in music education
2011 was a turbulent year for music education with the Henley Review offering a combination of hope and uncertainty leading to the eventual (and long-delayed) publication of the National Plan for Music Education in November. Some Local Authority Music Services have already been axed and there is the prospect of further closures or mergers as the new music education hub network is developed; there is also no guarantee that music will remain in the National Curriculum after a forthcoming review. But whatever the future holds, technology looks set to play an increasing part in the sector, benefiting pupils and teachers in the classroom and administrators and managers behind the scenes, says Paritor Marketing Executive, Jodie Vickerstaff.
The back office side of music education can be time-consuming and costly with no direct value to the child. While there has been no escape from the benefits of the internet and email over the last two decades, many music providers have failed to recognise improvements in SQL databases and CMS (Content Management Systems). Those who have embraced this technology have completely transformed the way in which they administer themselves as well as gaining the advantages of a professional image, bought into by all stakeholders.
According to recent figures from Ofcom (2011), a third of adults now use a smart phone. The latest developments of this kind are linking smart devices to the main system. Paritor Live integrates the latest web and mobile technology with day-to-day operations by providing a platform for three-way interactions between teachers, parents/pupils and the administration team.
Earlier in 2011, York Music Service, a charitable organisation, was launched. The service supports music teachers who are about to lose work or be made redundant following cuts from York Council. Co-directors of the new organisation, Alison Goffin and Derek Wharley, were both heavily involved in the day-to-day running of the previous council service. However, this new organisation has a very different challenge with considerably less funds and complete independence. This has meant that Alison and Derek have had to be creative in the way they operate. They see efficient administration as the key to reducing costs by delivering the majority of their service over the internet, effectively eliminating the bulk of administrative workload. The service will rely heavily on the use of Paritor Live which will be the backbone of their day-to-day administration.
York Music Service wants parents to be able to do everything online. Not only does this significantly reduce double entry and cut administration time but it also presents a professional image to the parent. Parents will be able to use the online application facility to enter an application for a pupil and, where required, make an initial payment.
Once an application is accepted, a parent can use their web or phone portal to see the messages sent between their child and the teacher and contribute to these; they can also see the diaries for each child. Using the web portal, parents can check their account and make any necessary payments.
York Music Service operates with self-employed teachers which heightens the problem of efficient communication with admin staff. The teachers’ timesheets, registers and claims are often not submitted for weeks, even months, which means out-of-date information for the management team. Instead, through Paritor Live, York Music Service can enable teachers’ access to their own secure online portal via any web browser or smart phone. They can then schedule their work, maintain their diary, submit pay claims/invoices and communicate with parents through the system, all of which the management team can access.
About the author
Jodie Vickerstaff has been working for Paritor Ltd since June 2010. As Marketing Executive, she has been involved with developing a marketing and brand strategy for core products, Ensemble (designed for Music Services) and Academy (designed for other music education providers).
Software house, Paritor, has been working exclusively with performing arts educators for over 15 years to develop management and administration solutions tailored to the way they operate. Its customers range from large Local Authority Music Services to single, independent teachers.
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