Admin with attitude

9th January 1998 at 00:00
IT IS surprising that there aren't more paper-based resources covering the use of computers in educational administration. Terry Freedman has produced an admirable resource that should become a standard. It is particularly helpful for those who have yet to start or are nervous of exploring how life can be made much easier given the right attitude - about which this book is insistent and positive - and appropriate resourcing.

Produced in A4 ring-binder format and assuming just the right amount of prior knowledge and familiarity with computers on the three types found in schools - Acorn, Apple Mac and Windows PC - it aims for busy management and classroom teaching staff to do just that: to streamline almost every aspect of school life with accessible, cost-effective computer systems and software.

Freedman examines the issuesthoroughly without being heavy-handed. It would be hard to imagine a subject that is not covered here: from choosing suitable equipment and maintaining typical school systems through adapting generic software such as spreadsheets and databases to administrative tasks at all levels, to dedicated tools for attendance and registration, reporting, timetabling, finance, assessment and records of achievement, trips, exam entry, in-service training, meetings and appraisal and projects as well as time and contact management.

Nor is the school's relationship with visitors and the outside world neglected. The author manages to encapsulate the most important aspects of representing your school's image in a few pages of carefully considered tips and good practiceI enough to inspire the competent without overwhelming the beginner.

Freedman also looks at such hot topics as copyright, viruses, data protection law and security. The code of practice for special educational needs is dispatched in less than two pages. But, like other chapters in the book, the advice and guidance are full of substance, sensibly cross-referenced; techniques explored elsewhere are called upon to minimise effort but maximise result.

For that reason, it would probably pay anyone using this resource pack to read it sequentially - unless they are familiar with standard business practices such as mailmerging and electronic data interchange. This way a culture of using software to achieve results quickly and efficiently is more likely to emerge than usually happens when specific software is reluctantly introduced perfunctorily to automate isolated tasks. My only quibble is that the folder lacks an index, but it is easy to find your way around because it is divided into six logical and near exhaustive sections.

Two themes emerge: the importance of having a policy, establishing plans and thinking in terms of systems is expertly advocated - specifically to empower users. And the need to feel confident (thanks to the book's many checklists and bullet-point procedures) of your abilities to analyse a need and decide when you can meet it unaided, and when you need to seek which sort of assistance.

Not only for making us think again - if about nothing else, about ways to avoid disaster - but also for its comprehensiveness and condensed presentation of the material covered, Make Time for IT is good value for money.

Make Time With IT

A4 ring binder for administration, Pounds 19.95 + Pounds 2 pp Questions Publishing, 27 Frederick Street, Birmingham B1 3HH. Tel: 0121 212 0919 e-mail:

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