The school office

(11 Posts)
haylegee Tue 24-Sep-13 21:51:26

Hello ladies,

I have recently started working as the receptionist at a primary school. We have a team meeting next week and I have been asked to make a list of anything I think can be improved etc. I have a few things that I think need addressing, however, having never worked in a school before (previously at a solicitors practice) I don't want to sound like an idiot when bringing things up if that's "just the way it's done' so I was hoping that someone could help me out.

The first issue is the signing in procedure for visitors etc. There are SIX different signing in books, one for visitors, where you tear off a little slip and but it on a badge, one for volunteers, one for pupils to sign in late or in and out for appointments etc, one for governors, one for contractors and one for staff, in which the staff are all listed stuck on a wall and they initial when they come in and initial when they leave - no times written down.

Now does this seem a little OTT to you? I understand the pupils and staff having a separate one, but surely volunteers, visitors, governors and contractors can all be in one? Do ALL schools have these books with the tear off slips for badges, can't they just have a badge that says "visitor"? Also how do you, as staff, sign in?

The other issue is the way messages are passed around. At this school you have a memo pad with a piece of carbon paper, you write the message on a slip and put it in the relevant member of staff's pigeon hole. This too me seems like an ancient practice, how am I to know how often each member of staff checks their pigeon hole, if they check it at all and there's also the risk that the slip gets lost in transit throwing up all kinds of confidentiality issues! I think emails would work more efficiently, staff can check from heir classrooms, there is no way of it getting lost and there's always an easily accessible copy of it. How are messages passed on at you school?

Also any other tips of how to run an efficient school office would be greatly appreciated.

Would it be helpful to add this school is in special measures :/

Thanks in advance

Bajas Tue 24-Sep-13 21:57:00

Both of your suggestions are how these issues are run in my school (teacher, not office staff) and it works like clockwork so it sounds like you're on the right lines.

Can't think of any other issues as I'm at the other end of the chalk face but these two will definitely save time and work for all concerned.

afromom Tue 24-Sep-13 22:05:40

In our school we have several signing in sheets/books too.
-One for the pupils for lates etc as they have to be recorded.
-one for visitors (not sure if there is a separate one for contractors) this is just a book to sign in, no tear off slip, just lots of generic visitor badges.
-A book for the governors, but that is only ever handled by the governors, not receptionist and is used to record governor time spent in the school.
- teachers have a board that they sign in on, there names are printed on and they slide a tab across to show a tick if in or a cross if out (so no pen needed which would go missing!)
So I guess only one less than you, unless there is a contractors one i don't know about.

With regards to badges we have 3 types (green neck straps for teachers and staff, yellows ones for CRB'd visitors e.g. Govs, chair of PTA etc, red ones for unchecked visitors. This is a great system, as it means the children and other staff know who everyone is and who they can talk to if they need help, etc.

afromom Tue 24-Sep-13 22:07:41

Forgot about your suggestion-email is definitely a better way to pass on messages, this is how we do it. It saves money, paper and you have a record of the message. I would go with that suggestion.

Phineyj Tue 24-Sep-13 22:14:34

I think assuming teachers read their email can be dangerous! If the pigeonholes are near the coffee, that's an incentive grin.

RustyBear Tue 24-Sep-13 22:30:24

One reason why it is a good idea for all visitors to sign the same book is that if there is a fire/drill, you have fewer books to take out with you - at our school we have to take registers, visitors book, staff sign-in sheet and the record of any pupils who have left early. Also if they use the car park it makes it easier to find people who are blocking someone else in! All visitors at our school sign the same book and get a visitors badge - we don't have any tear-off slips, though. Staff have blue badges, visitors yellow.
You may find that contractors have to have a separate sign in, because they may have to sign that they have read the rules about working near asbestos (lots of schools still have asbestos in!) and other H & S stuff.

Email is a much better way of communicating if you can be sure that everyone reads their emails! The teachers all do, but not all the TAs have regular access to a computer, so we tend to use pigeonholes or word of mouth - TAs are less likely to have confidential communications as mostly those about a child would go to the teacher who would inform the TA where necessary.

haylegee Tue 24-Sep-13 22:36:44

Thanks for all your replies so far We also have a 7th book for contractors to sign the asbestos register!

dajen Wed 25-Sep-13 18:38:46

We have separate signing in books for pupils and visitors - for pupils we use small loose leaf sheets in a binder as we collect reasons for lateness, etc and don't want the information on public display as other parents can be very nosey! We also have separate books for volunteers and governors. Governor one only comes out when needed but it is good to be able to easily demonstrate to Ofsted the involvement that governors have with the school and this would be difficult if they signed in the general visitor book.

We have numbered generic visitor badges and parent helpers have 'school made' ones with their name on which they keep and bring in each time they come.

We also use carbonated message pads but mainly to record phone messages about pupil absence which then go into the register so the teacher can correctly code the absence . They provide a record in case the EWO wants to follow up a particular case. For most other messages we e mail and have a staff message board on our virtual learning platform for all staff to see.

storynanny Thu 26-Sep-13 18:23:04

..... And some schools I go to have another signing in book for supply teachers which is then used at the end of each month to enter c,aims for their payment. A very very good idea as then supply teachers actually get paid! Doesnt happen quite so smoothly in some school offices in my experience.

asandwichshort Thu 26-Sep-13 22:49:37

One book for all visitors. one book for late pupils out on all the time and one book for Governors which is rolled out when govs come into school. Generic Visitor badges for CRB'd visitors and contractors - but contractors never left alone on site without supervision from a member of staff. All teachers and TA's have to check e mail at least daily thems the rules!! Small school - staff don't sign in!

Ihatespiders Fri 27-Sep-13 00:44:11

I check my school e-mail at the start and end of the day only. If you need to get a vital message to me, you write it down and send a year 6 minion to give it to me. It's also far easier to tuck notes into diaries and files as needed.

Separate signing in books are pretty necessary.

One thing I'd suggest ... does your school use an online system like ParentPay or are you doing cash & cheques in envelopes? Online is the way to go.

Similarly, using ParentMail for routine notes home will save a bundle on photocopying and lost letters.

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