Octavo News

Edition 4, November

Welcome to the final edition for 2015

It's been an action-packed first term of the academic year. We have highlights and updates from all of our 8 services as well as important things to be aware of in the New Year.


In this edition:

  • 2016-17 service offer launch
  • Changes coming to Octavo IT in 2016
  • Teacher recruitment initiatives brought to you by Octavo and the CHTA
  • Croydon Literacy Centre applications open for January
  • Nurture Groups launch & 'Conference Season' recaps
  • Training for organisational restructuring, attendance coordinators & support staff
  • We're recruiting Finance Associates
  • HR bitesize: Christmas parties
  • Update from the Finance team
  • You said, we did!
  • Goodbyes

SAVE THE DATE! Launch of the 2016-17 offer for schools

Headteachers, Principals, Chairs of Governors and School Business Managers: please mark Wednesday 20th January 2016 in your diaries and get ready to join us for the launch of our 2016-17 service offer to schools to be held at Fairfield Halls, Croydon.


We don’t want to give it all away now but we'll be building on what worked well last year and taking that even further...


  • Keynote addresses and workshops for senior leaders and SBMs during the day
  • Opportunities to speak to individual services about your requirements
  • 1-2-1 support with your portal and purchasing for 2016-17


Look out for invitations with full details which will be arriving by email and post early in December! And stay up-to-date as we reveal details over the coming weeks via Twitter

Octavo IT is changing in 2016!

The consultants and technicians who form Octavo IT have provided trusted support to schools for many years but you’ve told us that your needs are changing and so we’re doing the same!


  • New management

We’ll be strengthening our team by appointing new management and introducing new skills and experience. We look forward to introducing new colleagues soon!


  • Improved service offer for 2016-17

We’re launching a new, improved service offer. We look forward to discussing this with you in detail at Octavo’s 2016-17 service launch on Wed 20th January but in the meantime we’ll be sending you a prospectus to give you a better idea of what to expect and to allow you to plan ahead.


  • Promotional offers and rewards

Offering you a quality service which provides value for money remains our priority. We’ll be running promotional offers to reward current customers for their continued support as well as "early bird" discounts and offers for schools who want to come back to Octavo in 2016.


Look out for the prospectus in your inbox and in the mail early in December or feel free to give us a call if you would like to discuss your requirements before then! Contact Information Systems Coordinator Christine Hawkes on 020 8241 5475

Teacher Recruitment Initiatives

In response to the challenges of appointing outstanding teachers, Octavo Partnership and the Croydon Headteachers Association have been working closely on initiatives to raise Croydon's profile as the destination of choice for high quality teachers.


At the heart of the project lies the Teacher Recruitment Fair which will be held in the New Year. Saturday 6th February 2016 will see participating schools and colleges congregate at Fairfield Halls in order to meet potential delegates to discuss prospective positions and opportunities, not just within their organisations, but the borough as a whole. Training colleges and union representatives will also be in attendance. For further information click here.


Other aspects of the project will include the ever-popular NQT Primary Recruitment Pool which will operate in the New Year, as well as a new initiative which involves working with an Australian owned teaching agency to recruit primary teachers from Australia and New Zealand. Skype interviews have been conducted with a mix of primary teachers with a range of experiences and backgrounds.


If your school or organisation are interested on any of the above ventures, it's not too late to get involved. Please contact Christine Lonsdale on christine.lonsdale@octavopartnership.org for further information.

Croydon Literacy Centre - BOOK NOW for January placements!

We are pleased to announce that places are available at the Croydon Literacy Centre from January 2016. If you have pupils experiencing literacy difficulties who are not making the expected progress then why not consider a referral to our Centre? You may have Year 5 pupils needing a boost before transfer or younger pupils who are not responding to your in-school interventions.


We can offer intensive support via our core offer which includes two 90 minute sessions per week over three terms. Alternatively our fast track programme is designed to boost the skills of higher functioning pupils by offering one intensive session per week, supported by strategies for use at home and school. We have an excellent record of making an impact in the educational lives of our pupils so why not give it a try?


Feel free to contact the Centre to discuss your pupils on 07920657752 or click here to book your places.


* We regularly operate at full capacity so recommend booking early to avoid disappointment.

Nurture Groups Launch

Octavo, Croydon Council and Croydon school staff have been working furiously over the past year to promote the concept and heighten awareness of nurturing approaches within schools. The result of this is an informative and attractive pack which is now available to all schools in electronic and paper copies. This pack outlines the need for a nurturing approach, the overwhelming evidence on the effectiveness of the approach, how schools can be more nurturing and how schools can set up a nurture group. There is also information on further training and support that is available. The pack was launched at the newly refurbished Bramley Bank Short Stay School with support from the National Nurture Group Network. There is also a short video that showcases the excellent practice in Nurture Groups in Croydon which will soon be available on our website! Nurture Groups have also recently been mentioned in the Croydon Opportunity & Fairness Commission interim report.

Octavo's Conference Season

‘Mastering the Primary National Curriculum for Mathematics’.

Octavo's first conference season kicked off with the annual Mathematics Conference. The event was a great success and very well evaluated by the attendees. Debbie Morgan, Director for Primary of the NCETM, cleverly unpicked the key principles of mastery and gave clear advice and guidance on how to achieve a mastery approach, both through the key note address and her afternoon workshops.


Nigel Bufton, our second keynote speaker, provided a useful insight into approaches to teaching formal methods for calculation and entertained with his inventive use of hangers and pegs for introducing the formal method of column addition (you had to be there!).


The conference outlined a number of key national messages that we feel school leaders would benefit from hearing so we have invited Debbie Morgan back to Croydon to speak at the Spring Assessment Leaders’ Network Meeting.

Look out for further information later in the term.


Schools unable to attend the conference may be interested in the recent national document, Calculation Guidance for Primary Schools, from the NCETM. The document is divided into 15 sections, each dealing with an aspect of calculation considered a priority in helping pupils develop efficient and accurate methods of completing calculations.

'Improving Outcomes for Pupils with Autism'

The second conference in the series was the Autism conference on November 9th 2015. This was organised by Octavo in partnership with Croydon Council to support schools to develop best practice in meeting the needs of children and young people with autism. The day was opened by Croydon’s Autism Champion – Councillor Andrew Rendle. We had contributions from nationally known speakers - Glenys Jones from the University of Brmingham and Gina Davies leading a workshop on Attention Autism.


In addition local practitioners from our special schools, Chaffinch Brook and Bensham Manor, and Enhanced Learning Provisions, Kensington Avenue and Castle Hill, contributed to share best practice in a range of contributions and workshops. The Autism Education Trust’s competency framework and national standards were also discussed.


It was evident that all attendees were inspired by the various speakers and motivated to take action to develop inclusive practice for pupils with autism within their school contexts.


The day was well attended and received excellent feedback.


Thank you to all those who attended both conferences - we are already looking forward to next year's events!

Our experts talk 'Organisational Structures'

On 15 January 2016 (9am - 3:30pm) Octavo will be running a full day training session with expert trainers from our School Improvement, Finance and HR teams. We will take a holistic approach to the topic of restructuring and will ensure that all aspects of restructuring are considered, keeping improving opportunities for pupils at the heart of the process.


WHY?

Getting the school organisation structure right is crucial. It encapsulates how all the various strands of activity that take place in a school environment are implemented.


Educational research constantly expands knowledge of good practice, highlighting the types of intervention and specialist staffing roles that have the most impact on pupil outcomes.


As our understanding of good practice evolves, schools need to review their organisation of staff in light of the demands which changing pupil cohorts put on their schools. Alongside this runs ever increasing pressures on school budgets and therefore decisions about staffing structures need to be made in the context of affordability as well as good practice; it is the combination of both that leads to sustainable school improvement.


Of course, when schools make changes to their staffing structures they need to do so in a way that carries staff with them and is compliant with the requirements of employment legislation.


We recognise that there is a lot to think about and are here to help!


For more details and booking information click here.

Attendance meetings - let's get specific!

Further to the last Attendance Coordinators Network Meeting (ACNM), our Education Welfare service will now be delivering two Attendance Coordinators Network Meetings each term.


One will be aimed at Senior Attendance Leads within educational provisions and the other will be aimed at Attendance/Admin Officers. This allows EWS to deliver sessions that are more specific and relevant to the role and responsibilities of the delegates.


Delegates are free to choose which session they would like to attend depending on their individual role in relation to attendance within their respective provisions and are welcome to attend both if appropriate. This also allows professionals with different responsibilities within the same provision, to attend the ACNMs relevant to them.


We are hoping to hold both meetings in February/March next year. Full details will be available soon at www.octavopartnership.org.

ELSA Training

Returning in Spring 2016, ELSA training gives support staff the knowledge and skills they

need to plan and deliver individualist programmes of support to vulnerable children.


Training will be spread across five days throughout the Spring term. For full details or to book click here.

We're Recruiting!

Wanted! Experienced Finance Associates


In response to a growing need from schools for interim Finance Support we will shortly be opening up recruitment to our Finance Associates list.


If you are an experienced Finance Officer, Bursar or SBM looking for additional hours or wanting to make a change, keep an eye on our Careers page for the ad due out before the end of term. Or contact our Finance Service Manager, Patrick Leavy, on 07920 657 703 or patrick.leavy@octavopartnership.org for an informal discussion.

HR bitesize: Conduct at Christmas parties

Many workplaces take the opportunity to hold social events over the Christmas period. Whilst for the most part this is a fun experience sometimes things can go sour. It may sound like a cliché but inappropriate behaviour at the Christmas party is a reality.

Therefore our HR team are on hand with some helpful reminders and tips to ensure you and your colleagues enjoy your Christmas parties in the best way possible:


  • It is essential that all staff are aware and understand the expectations of their behaviour. Although social events usually take place away from the workplace and outside of normal working hours, the school’s standard code of conduct applies to such events. While management would not wish to put a dampener on employees' enjoyment of social events, it is in everyone's interests to remember that normal standards of conduct will apply.
  • If during the course of a social event, management become aware of inappropriate behaviour, they should address this with staff directly. Therefore it is important that all staff understand beforehand that any unsavoury behaviour could lead to disciplinary action under the school’s disciplinary procedure, up to and including summary dismissal.


This advice is a precautionary measure only. Our aim in giving this advice is to ensure that everyone can enjoy work-related social events in an atmosphere of conviviality without fear of being made to feel uncomfortable by another employee's conduct.


We hope that you all have enjoyable celebrations!

Finance Update

INVOICES

Following the updates made over the summer holidays, the new Octavo invoice document has been in use since the beginning of term. We hope that this has streamlined the invoicing process for all of our customers – it certainly has made things easier for us!


As we are now able to generate detailed invoices via our finance system we have stopped posting these on the Octavo portal. Going forward only statements from Croydon Council will be posted here. You will receive a separate email from the Council or payment will be taken by payment demand. All users with full finance rights will still be able to access the school’s purchase history at any time.


INVOICING CYCLES

We know that many of our customers are consistently purchasing our services throughout the month. As a result of the feedback we have received we are looking to increase our invoice run to twice a month in the New Year so that you can keep your own systems as up to date as possible. Further details will be circulated once the details have been finalised.


SCHOOL FINANCE CONTACTS

We have also updated our finance contact list. Unless told otherwise, we have removed all headteachers from the list and the majority of invoices will be sent to the specified finance contact for your school. If you would like to check who this is or change them please email accountsreceivable@octavopartnership.org


WELCOME AMANDA!

Lastly one of the most important changes to the finance team this term has been the introduction of our permanent finance officer, Amanda Palmer. Amanda joined the client relations team at the beginning of term and has already implemented many processes and procedures to help make Octavo as efficient as possible! Should you have any finance related issues or suggestions please do not hesitate to contact Amanda as per the below details:



You Said, We Did...

We’ve received lots of feedback from our schools on how well the new booking and purchasing system is working. We understand that this has been a process for us all to get to grips with and we appreciate your patience during this time.


The providers of the portal have been working very hard on developments which will make the system easier to navigate for all of the 30 local authorities using it. They have been focusing particularly on streamlining the booking process as well as developing the communications section of the website which is widely under used. Whilst you may have seen the odd change already we are hoping that the bulk of these will be implemented by the end of term.


We are also making a few changes to the way we use and manage the portal. We know there have been a few concerns about the accessibility of the information available on the portal therefore have made the following changes:



  • Messaging Rights – Up until now all users have had access to the messaging function within the portal. Due to feedback from schools we have now made this a function that only users with full finance rights have access to. Anyone without finance rights can email enquiries@octavopartnership.org for a prompt response.
  • User Guides – Whilst we send most of our new users guides on how to purchase our services or book training we will now make these, and additional guides, available via the portal for all to access. To access them all you need to do is navigate to the Communications Section of the portal and they will be available to search from the feed.
  • User Alerts – The system allows each user to edit their personal alerts in order to receive email notifications for different actions carried out. These alerts are universal for all users at your school; you don’t just receive notifications for the actions you are carrying out. We know that some users felt that they were receiving too many notifications so we have made a few amendments. We have turned these alerts off for all headteachers (unless specified) and have scaled these down to daily for business managers. This is a setting which can easily be edited and managed by each user personally. To find out how to do so click here.
  • Adding New Users – We have now enabled each school to have the functionality to create user accounts for their staff themselves. This is a function only those will full finance rights are able to carry out. If your school are interested in using this function please do let us know at enquiries@octavopartnership.org so that we can pass on instructions on how to do so.


We hope that these changes will enhance your experiences of using the Octavo portal. As always we welcome any feedback you may have. If you would like to pass on any comments please do so to enquiries@octavopartnership.org.

Goodbye...

We'd like to say a warm farewell to Debbie Thomas, a member of our School Improvement team who has contributed significantly to our borough as the lead for Literacy in Croydon. Debbie is moving on to new career challenges in Kingston and Richmond and we wish her all the very best for what lies ahead! We know she will be greatly missed not only amongst colleagues but especially in schools and amongst the Literacy leaders' network. We look forward to introducing Debbie's replacement soon!

That's All For Now...

That's it from us in 2015! We hope that you've enjoyed this edition of Octavo News. The next edition will be circulated early 2016.


If there is an item or topic you would really like to see discussed please do let us know. We would love to include more updates on how well our schools are doing and share your inspirational work.


All suggestions can be sent to enquiries@octavopartnership.org.


Keep an eye out for upcoming competitions and events for all to get involved with. We shall also be circulating our next CPD update during the first week of December.


And last but not least...


Here at Octavo we wish all our schools, teachers and pupils a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.