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Ensuring sustainability

SustainabilityEnsuring sustainability is vital. Launching a programme that fails after one year will not only be a tragedy but is likely to put your relationships with staff, parents and pupils back further than if you had never launched at all. What makes it even worse is that it is completely avoidable.

Our School Liaison Managers (SLMs) are highly experienced in guiding schools through the planning and implementation process to ensure that when you launch, you launch a truly sustainable programme that will grow in support and effectiveness as the years go by.

That’s not to say that every school will be able to achieve this. There are situations where parental support, finance or even teaching staff can present an impassable barrier to success and your SLM will also advise you when it is unwise to proceed in the current climate.

It may be more sensible to start with a small pilot for a year before deciding to extend it across one cohort or it may be decided that it is wiser to put it on hold altogether for a year or two until the viability outlook changes. Whatever the options, your SLM will always advise you against launching a programme that shows any sign of sustainability failure.

Of course a programme might launch will a strong outlook and fall foul of some of one of the common failure traps along the way. These traps may seem all too obvious in hindsight but they are also all predictable and avoidable with good planning and management.

All of the traps have been covered through the TOOLKIT but here is a quick reference list to remind you:

  • WiFi – It is absolutely critical that your WIFI is able to provide reliable connections to all of your devices at the same time wherever it is needed across the campus and with whatever service they are using (ie all streaming video). It is also equally important that you know that your chosen device is fitted with the best possible connection.WiFi that offers a slow laborious connection or keeps dropping out will frustrate and anger both staff and pupils and result in decisions to not use it. Lack of use will feed back to parents and their donations will fall off resulting in financial disaster for the programme and the inevitable decision not to launch the next year.

  • Home /School Agreement – It is vital that the school and every child and every family have signed a fair but firm agreement of responsibility for the device and its use. It is also vital that all parties adhere to their part of the agreement and when they don’t the agreed penalties are administered. This applies to ALL three parties, schools are often quick to pick up on a pupils failing but will happily ignore their own commitments.It doesn’t take a genius to realise that if a school fails on its commitment, the commitments of the pupils and parent will soon fail as well. Simple failings like not charging the device overnight can lead to classroom chaos and again, teachers will decide it is more hassle than its worth to use the device at all with the result for the future.

  • Maintenance & repair – Whatever the device, there will inevitably be some breakdowns and breakages. Broken screens are common issues. This is an area that should be covered in the Home /School agreement as far as responsibility of the damage, as should be possible charges for repeated damage, but equally the school’s responsibility to repair it quickly and provide a loan device should also be included and honoured.Again, pupils without a device in class or, worse still unable to work at home, will quickly frustrate teachers, pupils and parents and quickly result in the same outcome.

  • Financial management – You may think that this would not impact on future programmes but in our experience schools that adopt an aggressive attitude towards donations can quickly build resentment amongst parents who then talk to others and quickly spread a very bad image of the programme and the school’s attitude, often stalling the next programme at the launch.Parents signed up to a DONATION programme and making parents feel that they MUST pay, not offering flexibility when times get hard and threatening to take away the device if payments are not made are all ways that a school can very quickly kill their parental support and any future programmes.

If you can ensure none of these four points occur in your programme you are
well on the way to ensuring a truly sustainable future.