Octavo News

Birthday Edition (Edition 7)

It has been a fantastic first year for us here at Octavo. This year has seen us establish and grow our brand and we could not have done it without your support. A big thank you to all our customers, both old and new.

As we continue to grow and innovate in order to meet the changing needs of the educational landscape we hope you will continue to tell us what you think and feedback to us on how we're doing.

We hope you enjoy this edition's updates from across the Octavo family of services

In this edition:

  • A letter from the CEO
  • Octavo's First Birthday
  • 'Tell Us What You Think' winner!
  • Get Playful! Lego Convention
  • Training and Events
  • Nationally recognised Safer Recruitment training
  • Update from the School's Finance Team
  • Mock Interviews
  • Meet the Team! IT Service Desk
  • Stay up to date
  • We're Growing!

A Letter from the CEO

In light of the recent announcements from the government regarding academisation, Octavo's CEO, Sylvia McNamara, gives an insight on what this means for local schools and how Octavo can support schools and academies going forward.

Click HERE to read now.

Octavo turns 1!

In celebration of our first birthday, a handful of Octavo Service Leads have shared their team's highlights from the first year and sneak peak of what to expect in the year ahead:

"Thank you to all of the schools who have supported School Improvement over the past year. We have been delighted to support you in your journey towards ‘outstanding’ and beyond. We have been able to offer a whole new range of innovative products and courses as a result of your feedback and are now expanding our team to offer a wider range of advisory and consultancy support."

Clare Dudman, Head of School Improvement

"This year has been so exciting! It has been an absolute pleasure working with you all. Thank you all for such an invaluable experience. EWS prides itself on the relationships it has built with each of the schools we are working with, as this is paramount to promoting positive outcomes all round. EWS aspires to work closely with more schools and further develop the service offer in order to innovatively meet evolving needs of each of our schools"

Bhavika Sahiri, Education Welfare Service Lead

“It has been good to work at a strategic level with heads as we shape our organisation to meet the needs of the ever evolving education environment. We have valued the chance to work with CHTA on recruitment initiatives promoting Croydon as a place to teach, and are looking forward to developing this work further in the future.”

Cathy Brearley, Head of HR

"On a small scale we are proud to have guided one of our schools in 15/16 out of a long term deficit situation. By knowing their exact financial position every month, they were able to plan and adjust on the fly. It was a huge effort so well done to them! On a larger scale, we are delighted that the service is expanding to both schools and academies, inside and outside the borough. We look forward to empowering new clients in 16/17 through our collaborative approach and our advanced reporting."

Patrick Leavy, Schools Finance Manager

'Tell Us What You Think' - Competition Winner

At the beginning of the year and over the past few months we've been asking you to let us know how we have performed in our first year. Thank you all for your responses and valuable feedback.

Anyone who entered, either at an event or online, was entered into a prize draw for the chance to win Octavo CPD. Our winner for this past quarter is Tina Simpson from Gilbert Scott Primary School. Congratulations Tina, a member of the team we will be in contact with you soon!

Get Playful! LEGO Convention

The afternoon of the 20th April saw over 75 teachers and TAs from Croydon, Sutton, Bromley and Merton attend our Get Playful LEGO convention. The aim of the afternoon was to inspire schools to consider how they might use LEGO to engage and motivate pupils in the classroom.

The convention got off to an interesting start with key note speaker, David Whitebread, giving a convincing educational argument that play is an integral part of learning and is essential to ensure children’s wellbeing, as well as developing critical thinking, problem solving and creativity.

This was followed by a choice of five practical workshops for delegates to participate in during the afternoon.

The popular Story Starter session inspired a variety of constructions, including LEGO models of Goldilocks and the Three Bears and Jack and the Beanstalk, which were photographed and uploaded using software that enabled participants to share their stories with the group.

The Lego for Maths session saw delegates investigating different possibilities for building ducks and worms using the LEGO bricks.

Lego BuildtoExpresss is a one-to-one or group intervention that uses the LEGo BuildtoExpress kit to develop self-awareness and emotional understanding which was led by Angi Franklin from the Nurture Group Network.

Hannah Coles (Specialist Speech and Language Therapist) gave an introductory workshop on LEGO Therapy, a well-established intervention to building social and communication skills. Hannah is back in Croydon in June to run the half day training for schools wanting to run LEGO Therapy.

We were also pleased that Carrillion Library Services could attend the day and offer a workshop on using LEGO WeDo which teaches engineering and coding through LEGO.

The day finished with an invitation to all schools to run a LEGO week 6-10 June, an opportunity for all local schools to get playful and use LEGO to encourage, inspire and motivate during this week. For more information contact denise.dyer@octavopartnership.org

Interested in attending further LEGO training? We've got two great courses running this year...book now to avoid disappointment!

LEGO Therapy - Building Communication and Social Skills

15 June, 1:30pm-4.30pm

Click HERE for full details.

Lego Build to Express

06 October, 09:30am-3:30pm

Click HERE for full details.

Training and Events

We have an extensive programme to see all school staff through to the end of the year, including subject leader network meetings, bite size workshops and plenty of SIMs training.

Click here to view the programme for the next three months.

Nationally recognised Safer Recruitment training

There is a statutory requirement for one person on every recruitment panel for school staff to have completed safer recruitment training.

Our one-day Safer Recruitment Course is the nationally recognised Safer Recruitment Consortium training and is delivered by accredited trainers.

This course will:

  • Identify the key features of staff recruitment that help deter or prevent the appointment of unsuitable people
  • Consider polices and practice that minimise opportunities for abuse or ensure its prompt reporting
  • Help participants begin to review their policies and practice in recruitment with a view to creating a safer culture

Join us on 23rd June to complete this essential training. Places are limited so click HERE to book now.

This course will also be repeated on 14th October.

An Update from the Schools Finance Services Team

After a very successful first year of business, below are some key points to keep our customers updated on:

  • We had very accurate year end predictions at Q3 due to better monthly reporting. Our monthly suite of reports includes an adjusted balance sheet and the corresponding income and expenditure report. Our schools get the certainty of year end every month!
  • Cash flow reports will be added to the standard monthly suite of reports in 16/17. Our finance pack will now tell you your position, performance and cash movement every month. This data will give you total control of your finances.
  • More schools are managing their own budgets. We firmly believe that schools are best placed to manage their own budgets, with guidance from consultants. As such we are pleased that 15/16 saw an increase in the number of schools that manage their own budgets using the HCSS software
  • Following the successful launch of the SBM Network last term, 16/17 dates will be announced soon and surveys will be sent out with the topics to be voted on. Due to the current political climate one topic will likely be academy finance. The Summer Term meetings will be on the 6th and 7th of June, Autumn Term in November and Spring Term in February. Remember to purchase the SBM Subscription via the Octavo portal.
  • Financial Resilience is a new product available from the Schools Finance team. Octavo can formalise the finance processes at your establishment with the use of descriptions and flow diagrams so key roles can be undertaken by temporary staff with no interruption to service. For full details and to purchase visit the Octavo portal.
  • We have plenty of training planned for 16/17. Once we have added the finishing touches these will be available to book via the portal.
  • We now have increased accounts software expertise in the team – FMS6, PS Financials, Sage, Access Dimensions, Exchequer & HCSS Accounting. The latter is at the pilot stage and due to launch in September '16. We will offer training and implementation for those who wish to adopt this new product in April '17.
  • Lastly…Patrick continues his progress in the ACCA qualification. He passed his Financial Reporting exam in December and passed the Audit paper in March! Next up is Financial Performance Management.

Mock Interviews

Preparing young people for the world of work is the key goal of our Education Business Partnership. One of our programmes is the provision of mock interviews for students. The mock interviews are useful for all students, and while the programme is offered on a ‘stand alone’ basis, it can work in tandem with work experience.

We work with a range of employers who provide volunteers as part of their corporate social responsibility programmes, and many Octavo staff volunteer to participate on the same basis, in order to give something back to local schools. In addition we are supported by volunteers who give time to support the development of young people.

The process involves students submitting CVs and letters of application and receiving feedback. The interviews focus on key skills for employment and constructive feedback is given. For many students, this will be the first opportunity they have had to speak about their skills, particularly to someone they do not know.

The Mock interview programmes the team held between November 2015 and now have been very successful, with positive feedback from schools and business volunteers alike. Here is what some of our customers have to say…

“Nerves and excitement were all part of the day when our Year 10 students embarked on the fantastic opportunity of gaining the experience of a Mock interview at Allianz in East Croydon. Students not only dressed to impress but also showed true professionalism in their approach on the day. A wonderful and rewarding day was had by all."

Michelle Gibbins, Oasis Academy

“The process was a wonderful opportunity for our students to practice their interview skills in preparation for Sixth Form, College, Apprenticeship and Job interviews. Whilst students came away having had different experiences - some enjoyed it and felt they came across well, whilst others found some questions difficult to tackle - everyone agreed they were glad their first interview was a mock. Students were able to take away ideas and feedback for improvement, and next time when it’s the real thing, they’ll be better prepared and hopefully will secure a place at their chosen educational provider or workplace. I look forward to providing our current year 9’s with the same experience next year.”

Caroline Knox, Riddlesdown Collegiate

Meet the Team - IT Service Desk

Now you can put a face to the name and meet our friendly and helpful IT support staff who assist you over the phone, while based here at the Octavo offices.

To meet the full Octavo team click here.

Follow Us!

For the latest updates and news from Octavo Partnership follow us on Twitter.

We also have accounts for our School Improvement and Assessment and Data teams, providing key updates on a local and national scale.

To keep up to date with the latest job opportunities with Octavo follow us our Careers Twitter account or on LinkedIn.

We're Growing!

Due to the increasing demand for our services we have some exciting vacancies here at Octavo including:

    Full details of each role and how to apply can be found on the Careers page of our website.

    WELCOME: Claire Potter, Head of Finance

    Claire joined Octavo last month as Head of Finance. She qualified with KPMG as a chartered accountant and has over twenty years of financial experience, including ten years at an SME IT service company but also as Head of Finance of a multi academy trust. She was also a school governor for seven years, including two years as Chair of Governors.

    Whilst at the MAT she led on the implementation of a new finance and budgeting package as well as the development of standard procedures and reports that met the needs of head teachers, governors, the board and auditors. She also led on the financial integration of new schools into the trust, and ensuring staff were trained to produce and interpret financial reports as well as preparing for audits. In this changing educational landscape, Claire's financial expertise and experience of academy conversion are a great asset to our team.

    That's all for now...

    If there is an item or topic you would 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