A year on from our last conversation, our Co-Founding Director Adam Watson sat down with Ron Ridewood, Facilities Manager at Light Hall School, to find out how the academy has matured its use of Every Compliance.

What did Light Hall School need from a compliance management system?

When Ron assumed the position of Facilities Manager 18 months ago, he realised that the team needed an online system that supported their core, day-to-day estates responsibilities. Our modular school compliance software, Every Compliance, has been in play at the academy since September 2022. Light Hall School has gradually been rolling out a number of modules to support activities, including:

Keep reading to find out how Ron’s using each module to its strengths to improve his team’s efficiency!

Core compliance focusses for Light Hall School

Adam: “What have been your core focusses for the last twelve months?”

Ron: “We’ve really been focussing on how we manage assets this year. We’ve moved away from having two copies of the asset register (in spreadsheets and other systems) and we’ve now merged these in Asset Management within Every Compliance. We now only need to log into one system to find all information on an asset!”

Asset management

A: “What benefits are you seeing now that you’re managing assets in Every Compliance?”

It’s given us a more accurate figure of the value of assets we have in the school – plus, we found a list of assets that we no longer have. We also found that we had a few IT assets that had fully depreciated, because Every Compliance’s Asset Management module automatically does the depreciation calculation for you.

R: “The figures automatically adjust, whereas before we’d find ourselves going into a spreadsheet and having to alter figures manually. Now I’ve got confidence that I can open the system and see that everything I need is on there – it’s really good!”

Using Every Compliance to manage risks

From assets to risks, Ron went on to tell Adam how the academy has been upping its use of our Risk Management module.

R: “With Every Compliance, we’ve been able to turn our risk assessment system into one RAG-rated – the aim is to get risks to green. We also recently had a RIDDOR report, and with Every Compliance we were able to attach a copy of an Every document to give as much information as possible, which was easier than giving a carbon copy first aid book!”

How are you using Every Compliance to manage the condition of the academy’s sites?

Light Hall School’s sites and buildings are home to secondary teaching for over 1,100 students. Ron speaks about the range of building types and ages that make up the academy across its estate in the West Midlands.

R: “The academy is made up of a mixed range of buildings. The newest part was built in 2006 – it’s a ‘smart’ building with some amazing technology in it! But, the features had started to be taken out because people don’t know what to do with them.

These are things like a CAFM (computer aided facility management) system which manages the levels of carbon dioxide. If it’s too much, the windows open. There’s also underfloor heating throughout, with a water harvesting system in there, too.”

A: “It [the smart building] highlights and demonstrates the difference between the ambition for what you want to do with your properties and the skillset required to do it.”

R: “Yes – and I get really excited about developments! I recently completed my Facilities Management Diploma which has really opened my eyes to these smart buildings, CAFMs, and other systems. I subscribe to a facilities management magazine that comes once a month to see what we can do at Light Hall School!”

A sustainable future for Light Hall School

Throughout the conversation, it was clear that Ron cares about making the academy’s estate and building condition in as good a state as possible. That goes for both his activities now, and his vision for the future.

At the moment, I’m working on the 5-year estates strategy. By 2030, there’s a big push to be carbon neutral, so I'm looking at how we can get our school to be as near to that as we can.

R: “All our buildings work in different ways and use energy in different ways. We’re looking into solar panels and EV chargers at the moment at the schools – we’ve got a lot of roof space! There’s also a portal that could be introduced which sounds fantastic – it monitors energy usage, how much is being used by the UBC, how much charge is going from solar panels to the UBC.” 

Improving energy usage

In the next few years, renewable energy sources, like solar panels, are going to be far more common to support powering school buildings. Adam was keen to find out how much awareness Ron feels staff and students have of more sustainable practices, and if everyone knows how to play their part.

R: “Everyone has to start somewhere, and it will always feel like an uphill struggle! I’m going down the route of engaging with staff and involving them in our journey. Our staff are really important – if it wasn’t for them coming along on my journey, then my job would be a lot harder!”

A: “How are students responding to your sustainability goals?”

R: “We need to change mindsets – recycling at the school isn’t good because people just aren’t recycling. That’s something I want to tackle over the coming years. We want to be a more sustainable school, but it’s hard when not everyone cares where the rubbish goes. You’ve got a level of managing expectations of sustainability but also understanding how your students work. How can we engage with them and carry them along on the journey, too?”

A: “You’ve got the possibility to include elements of your profession in the teaching environment – could you integrate it into the academy’s curriculum?”

R: “I’ve recently been looking at sustainability grants for our outside spaces. We’ll be working with the geography department on this as that’s where it lies curriculum-wise.”

How are staff responding to change?

From students to staff, Adam was keen to find out how the staff response to Every Compliance has changed since the last time they spoke. In 2023, Ron told us that rolling out the compliance management system was still in the ‘early days’. Back then, staff were talking about it and they knew change was coming – so how does that look over a year later?

R: “What I want to do with Every Compliance is make sure our staff know how to use the system. When it comes to our IT team, I want to get them more involved with it for things like inputting new IT assets into the system over the summer. I’d like the site team to be taking on more responsibility for managing their assets in the system, too.

Within so many years, Every Compliance will take over from other ones we have in play and will be our main go-to portal. This aim is good to go into our estates strategy – it’s streamlining our systems, whereas our previous system is now antiquated and not working as it should. The reason it hadn’t been changed is because we needed to adapt the school staff to change.”

Using the Deming cycle in facilities management

To some, change is part of everyday life – and something we’re able to easily adapt to and embrace. To others, change can feel disruptive, particularly where you don’t feel there’s a problem that needs changing and can’t envision the end goal. It seems as though Ron’s tact of introducing Every Compliance steadily is paying off – staff seem to understand why it’s in place and how it’s going to/already is positively impacting their daily tasks. So, what words of wisdom can Ron leave us with?

As part of continuous improvement, I use something called the ‘Deming cycle’. It’s where you plan, do, check, then act – PDCA for short. The cycle keeps going round and round, so you may have sorted one thing out (acted), but this cycle highlights other things that are also going on. That’s how I work – everything I do always gets a review/re-reviewed.

It’s fair to say we think it’s working! School compliance management shouldn’t be a checklist of activities that you do once and move on from. There’s so much to learn, so much insight to gain from your risk, condition, asset data that’ll push you towards a leaner (and hopefully greener!) future for your school sites and estate.

We’d like to say another ‘thank you’ to Ron for sharing his experience of Every Compliance, and we’re looking forward to speaking to him again in the months ahead!

If you’d like to experience some of the compliance management benefits Ron speaks about, our team are a call or email away.