Making Paper Work in Education

PFU are a specialist company within the Fujitsu family dedicated to information management solutions that offer advanced technology and intelligent software, enabling data to move seamlessly between physical and digital environments. Peter Richardson, Senior Marketing Manager PFU (EMEA), explains why document management and making information more usable for people plays a crucial role across education and wider public sector digital transformation.

Storing information digitally for schools and other educational institutions has become both a requirement and a necessity. There is no need to keep information stored on paper anymore and every reason not to. Schools must address this now that the general data protection regulation (GDPR) is in place. Speed, ease of access and ability to use the information are all enhanced when information is made digital.

There is massive pressure on schools to make their operations as time-effective as possible. With many schools facing budget cuts, the efficiency of office staff and minimising the time teachers spend on record-keeping is critical. Getting information online is a key part of this, but it is not possible to be entirely paperless. Many items still come into a school such as absence notes, invoices, timesheets and documents for staff still come in on paper. Most importantly, many things produced in the school still happen on paper, such as tests done by pupils and work that needs to be saved to show the school is available for accountability measures when under inspection. A bridge to make documents digital is vital, ideally in a way that makes it possible to amend them, for items such as marking and then incorporating them into records.

Making Paper Work in Education

As a learner, being able to see how you have developed and grown, is extremely important and helps build confidence in student’s abilities and recognise the progress that they have made. Fujitsu scanners can be a helpful partner in this by capturing a pupil’s work throughout the term so that children, teachers and parents can see how their work has evolved and improved. Providing digital files for parents at the end of term is also more convenient for parents. Digital copies are particularly popular for art classes.

Under GDPR legislation, individuals have the right to access their data and are referred to as ‘subject access requests’ – the number of requests is expected to increase. With much of the information currently only available in paper format, responding to claims is time-consuming and could potentially lead to non-compliance. Physical security of students is no longer the only safety worry for schools, as having paper records are less secure than a fully managed digital platform, and these must be GDPR compliant.

By integrating digital practices such as scanning and the digitisation of learning material, an education institution can quickly realise the benefits that come from enhanced collaboration between education professionals, pupils, parents and other members of the institution’s staff.

Making Paper Work in Education

When Southall Special School needed help streamlining its data collection processes, it turned to document management

Southall Special School, based in Telford, is a leader in the use of best digital practices to offer a more complete learning and working experience and, with a responsibility to keep student data safe, part of the school’s remit is holding hundreds of records up-to-date, accurate and secure. In fact, this school has a greater need for this kind of support than most – pupils with special education needs (SEN) have records that need to be safely and securely stored for 25 years. Historically, this has proven a problem for the school in several different ways: lack of storage space, access and retrieval issues as well as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance.

Fujitsu scanners – in conjunction with software from partner Filestar – have solved all of these problems thanks to MCL, a Kyocera Group Company.

The problem

One serious issue was that the filing cabinets at Southall School were filling up with pupil records, taking up valuable space. This also made document retrieval difficult and time-consuming, whilst being at risk from theft, fire and flooding.

Jonathan Barrett, IT manager and part of the school’s senior management team, knew there had to be a better solution, and thought that digital scanning may hold the answer. Jonathan contacted MCL to get expert help and advice; Filestar was recommended, as it offers a cloud-based document management software solution which has comprehensive auditing facilities and flexible retention policies. For Jonathan, this sounded like a great fit for the school’s paper document problems, and for the capture and scanning of the pupil records the Fujitsu fi-7300NX scanner was suggested as the ideal companion to the school’s software.

The fi-7300NX enables seamless integration for when an organisation depends upon document management. It improves working efficiency by letting the user scan without the computer; documents can be scanned and saved without any requirement for a local computer. Customised job menus are displayed after user authentication and ensure efficient and secure decentralised data entry for each user. The software PaperStream NX Manager enables users to scan from mobile or web applications opened on smart devices. Seamless integration into client systems enables the use of a variety of devices for scanning operations. The fi-7300NX offers users a choice of three software options designed to meet the needs of teams and businesses of all sizes. Individual user sign in means that the routing of scanned documents for downstream processing can be strictly controlled and secured by policy.

Making Paper Work in Education

The solution

The stand-alone scanner solution taken on by Southall School can cope with a wide variety of documents that can be seamlessly processed to a range of destinations and systems via the in-built touchscreen and intuitive software.

With the scanning part of the problem solved, various parties worked together to customise the Filestar software to precisely meet the needs of the school. Filestar works like a virtual filing cabinet and, with just one button-press of the Fujitsu scanner, the pupil records are scanned, the typed text is converted into digital, searchable text and the document is automatically filed in the correct folder in the cloud.

The benefits

Having the documents kept securely in the cloud offers many advantages; firstly, the school no longer needs to hold a paper copy, saving filing space and eliminating the risk of damage and theft. Secondly, the documents can only be accessed by the correct personnel with the right permissions and, every time the documents are accessed, there is a full audit trail of who has read what and what they’ve done with the document. Finally, searching and retrieval of documents can be done instantly, enabling compliance with GDPR and saving time and administration resources.

Jonathan and the school have been thrilled with the solution; they said that the Fujitsu fi-7300NX is ‘absolutely amazing.’ The scanner is very portable and has moved around the school as the pupil records have been scanned and indexed. This has given the school staff some much needed extra room in the offices and ensured a safe and secure procedure for storing the records for many years to come.

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