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While the term ‘paperless office’ has been around for several decades now, it’s unlikely to become a reality any time soon. However, it’s true that most workspaces are becoming ‘paper-lite’ and cutting back on their printing – which means that people are printing less and printing much more mindfully. The use of consumables, paper, and the printers themselves, may be gradually declining but the use of multi-function devices, managed print services and print software are rising. People are becoming smarter with their printing – which is precisely how one school in Sussex has managed to save enough money on printing to buy state-of-the-art classroom equipment. Saltdean Primary School, in Brighton, made the decision to approach a local technology specialist about its print use, and has been able to cut its costs by £6,000 thanks to the installation of new machines and new print management software which allows staff to attribute print costs to individual users and requires them to scan an ID card at the machine before the print is released. The 90-strong staff at Saltdean have, as a result, been made keenly aware of their own paper usage and have cut down their volumes significantly as a result – in fact, they have already saved the equivalent of 62 trees by printing more mindfully. Mark Woodley, the business manager at Saltdean, is thrilled – not only with the change, but also with how the staff at the school have received it. “For a school of our size to save £6,000 in a year is quite incredible, and the change has been really well-received by staff, many of whom have said to me they have noticed the reduction in paper use throughout the school,” he says. “We’ve been a growing school; we’ve gone from two-form entry to three-form entry over the last six or seven years, gradually increasing in pupils and staff. We had basic laser printers in most classrooms and our expenditure was huge – I used to spend £1,500 per order on consumables alone!”

Mark worked closely with the solutions team at SOS Systems – to figure out what would work for the schools specific needs – to figure out what would work best for the school’s specific needs. Together, they came up with a solution which, while basic, has saved it a great deal of money; its new system funnels all the school’s print jobs through three main photocopiers. “We were producing so much waste; teachers, TAs and senior leadership were photocopying things and not collecting their print-outs,” Mark explains. “They’d forget they did it, print it again, and each week there were piles and piles of paper – all wasted. “With this system, they have to go and physically put a card against the machine to release their print job and, if they no longer want it, they can delete it from the printer – so it’s not just about money savings – there’s the environmental perspective as well.” The new system also allows staff to print to any of the devices on site, reducing queues, and document security has been maximised thanks to the use of ID cards meaning that the risk of sensitive documents being left on machines is reduced. This is particularly important considering the potential impact of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) issues on schools, and what could happen in the event of a data breach.

“Confidential paperwork can’t be left lying around on the photocopiers anymore, so this new process is a big tick for GDPR,” Mark says. “Everything is backed on OneDrive rather than pen drives – we don’t use mobile storage at all, now. Our process is so secure that, if you haven’t approved something for printing within 12 hours of sending it to print, it disappears from the system. “Admittedly, we don’t get many questions about data protection but, if a parent did come in wanting to know what we’re doing, I’d be able to tell them their children’s personal information is secure.” It’s important for a school like Saltdean, which has been growing and will continue to do so, to be as up to date as it can be in order to reflect its own evolution. “What we’ve got set up now is right – and I know that because there have been no complaints from teachers! All they’re saying is good stuff about it. We’ve got a big site here but, because we’ve got three machines dotted around, you don’t have to walk far to use one. It also means that, if one packs up, you’re not relying on one machine.” Additionally, it’s useful for Mark to be able to see what the usage is like for individuals. He gets a printer summary once a month which enables him to view peoples’ use; the average, he says, is around £30 per month for a teacher. “It’s around a pound a day,” he says. “So, if someone is spending £50, £60, £70 instead, then I would be able to have a word with them about their printer usage. The teachers probably don’t realise because they don’t see the cost but, this way, I can check in with them and make them aware of that.”

Most importantly, the school is saving precious money which can be poured into other projects. A teacher approached Mark to tell him that two new smart boards were required – due simply to the evolution of technology driving education in that direction. With the money that Saltdean has saved on printing costs it can afford to buy two new boards – which cost around £3,000 each – for its year one classrooms. “We’re hoping to have them in the classes before the end of this financial year,” says Mark. “It has to go through governors, of course, but I’m confident they’ll agree because I can evidence where the saved money has come from.” Even better is the impact this will have on the children – and even their families. “Parents come in once a month to look at their children’s work, and they can see that we’re investing in their future. The kids notice new tech, and will point it out to their parents because they’re proud and excited.”

MARK WOODLEY, business manager at Saltdean Primary School in Brighton, tells Nell Walker about how the school saved enough money for two, state-of the-art classroom screens simply by changing its print practices.

By Nell Walker

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