Light Hall School is located in Shirley, West Midlands, and provides secondary education to over 1,100 students. Ron Ridewood’s been the Facilities Manager at the school since the beginning of the 2022 academic year and was soon looking for an online system to support the core responsibilities of his team.
Following discussions with our Regional Consultant, Carol Holmes, in September 2022, Ron’s journey with Every began. Six months on, he’s shared his experience of using the Every Compliance Software with our Director and Co-Founder, Adam Watson.
Thank you for talking to us today, Ron! Let’s start with how you first got into facilities management – had you always wanted to work in the education sector?
Back in 2004, I helped out with office moves as part of a site maintenance team. I worked alongside a number of tradespeople, like an electrician, plumber, and carpenter. I decided I’d like to branch out my experience and got a job at a primary school as a site assistant. When the school’s site manager left, I was asked to take the role, and I jumped at the offer!
My facilities management career evolved from here, and I enrolled onto a business management course in 2015 which has really allowed me to recognise the crossovers between business activities and the facilities side of things within a school.
Every school operates slightly different – what’s the transition been like from your first role in an LA maintained school, to managing at Light Hall School, an Academy?
It’s a completely different ballgame working at an academy compared to working at a school controlled by the local authority (LA)! Some of their systems felt quite antiquated, and I have experienced, first hand, how academisation has helped modernise the systems used in academies.
Another difference is how we’re managing budgets – being a part of an academy seems to give you more flexibility, and we’ve got more of a say over where the budget is spent. For instance, the values that I can authorise are greater than they were at my LA school which helps me make things happen faster that brings benefits sooner. That could also be down to my higher position now, but at the LA maintained school there was a much longer process to get the decision from A to B.
At the start, you mentioned you were looking for a facilities management system that did ‘everything’ – what did you need in particular?
I was after something that could help with reactive maintenance and somewhere to log activities, like incidents. I found myself bogged down with a lot of paperwork, and I used to get excited when a bit of paper would move off my desk!
With Every Compliance, that’s what we’ve got now. And what I’d like to do for our site team, and even IT, is to give them tablets so they can download the Every app and record everything as they carry out and complete works.
That could include testing, like the fire alarms – the staff member logs the activity on the app which then sends me a notification to say it’s been done. I’m then confident that the task has been done for that week.
We’re adding a checklist for activities feature to give staff more guidance over what you want them to be checking for – watch an eye out for that coming soon!
So you’ve got a vision for how your site team could use Every Compliance – are there any other departments at Light Hall that you’d like to embrace it?
Generally speaking, our teaching and support staff will only be involved with Every Compliance when they have a request to log. It’s our site, IT, and front office teams that will be using it daily.
How we work currently, for example, is for a First Aider to put details of an incident onto a spreadsheet which I then upload onto Every Compliance. But after Easter, we’re hoping this information will be put straight into our Every dashboard, cutting out the middle person and the paper trail. Which brings me onto this – what I do love about Every Compliance is the audit trail! Any changes are logged, so that omits any risk of information being amended unduly.
How are staff at Light Hall School receiving Every Compliance?
It’s still early days, but even now the staff are talking about it. And they know change is coming – from the site team to the IT team to our Senior Leadership team – they’re all aware of Every and the approach we want to take with regards to rolling out across the whole school. What’s preventing us from doing a hard and fast roll-out is the process of managing change.
We’ve got a new Site Manager starting soon, which feels like a natural time to really start introducing Every to the site team and getting them to incorporate it into their daily routines. I’m hoping that they can be fully up-to-speed by July!
We’ve been speaking about more IT training in performance reviews, so the team knows change is coming. Our staff have mixed experience and comfortability with technology – though Every Compliance isn’t ‘high-tech’, if you’re not used to it, then it can feel daunting!
It sounds like you’ve got a progressive vision for the facilities management department!
Definitely! Staff, students, parents, visitors – I want them to see what we’re doing and think that it’s effective. Our operations team are working to put screens up to visually represent work that’s coming up, in progress, or completed.
How have you found getting staff excited about the change from current systems to Every Compliance?
It’s been a considered and methodical process – we’ve got staff who are anxious about change but also people who want to make it happen. If we can get excited together, then hopefully we’ll create something that everybody else wants to be a part of.
For me, it’s really about making our employees’ jobs as simple as possible and to become both more proactive and responsive. We’re currently using a number of Every’s modules, including:
- Business Management
- Asset Management
What I like about Asset Management, particularly, is how I can click a button and see the value of the whole school estate. And I can easily print this report off for activities like Governors’ meetings. It also supports our returns to Companies House, giving us an accurate list of our assets with up-to-date amounts.
How do you see Every Compliance fitting into the future of Light Hall School’s facilities department?
I’m currently studying for a Diploma in Facilities Management, and what was particularly interesting during my assessment in that my assessor picked up on the fact I’d put Every Compliance down as a recommendation for a compliance management system. He used to work at a school that was one of the first to roll out the Compliance Software, so was very familiar with Every!
It’s a real credit to the brand that people are talking about it. My Director comes back from conferences and says that Every is one of the topics that’s always talked about. We’re working with Every’s implementation team at the minute to get set up with Risk Management. And I think as time goes on, we’ll look to invest in another module. In the next few years, we’ll hopefully be able to broaden out the activities that we do on Every.
And you’ll be pleased to know that we’ve got a date in the diary to check in with Ron to hear how the next six months have shaped up!
We’d like to say a big ‘thank you’ for Ron for taking the time to share Light Hall School’s experience of Every Compliance so far.
To learn which modules of our Compliance Software could complement your role, get in touch!