Business Managers everywhere know a thing or two about what it takes to keep a modern and dynamic school running like clockwork. They know where everything is, who everyone is, and how to conquer an insurmountable workload that would crush mere mortals – and they do all this with grace and efficiency. Jackie Kelly is the (exceptionally capable) Manager Corporate Services at Dianella Heights Primary School. She has generously taken time out of her busy day to share her experiences and champion her team.
A massive thanks to Jackie Kelly for her time and insights.
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Dianella Heights Primary School first opened in 1964 and is set in a quiet location 15 minutes from Perth’s CBD. It is comprised of clusters of buildings surrounded by gardens, grassed areas and extensive natural bushland. Students have access to two grassed ovals, netball and basketball courts, a well-stocked library, a science and arts centre, Italian room and boardroom.
Students at Dianella Heights Primary are guided by a team of passionate educators and administrators to help students achieve the school vision: “Soaring to new heights in excellence through unity.” The school views education as a cooperative venture in which they are partners with parents and families.
What are the main responsibilities of your role?
“So I suppose the main responsibility is to help the school achieve their vision of ‘Soaring to new heights in excellence through unity’ by aligning corporate services to priorities identified in the business plan.”
That’s a massive job.
“It is a massive job. You don’t want me to list all the tasks, do you?”
“As well as the things I just mentioned there is compliance. My role as an admin leader covers financial and human resources management, including reporting to the Board, recruitment, leasing, making sure the enrolment processes and practices comply with Department policy, census, asset management, Finance Committee, cost centre manager liaison, planning and monitoring the budget, and oh my goodness no wonder I am so tired! I’m also involved with the Staff Wellbeing Committee, and I’m responsible for the office management and continuous improvement practices to streamline our systems. I also line manage support staff, which includes mentoring and training and really trying to raise the profile of the corporate and office staff, as well as developing them as leaders in their own right.”
What do you love about your role?
“One of the things I do love about my role is the people. The people here are fantastic. My office team is amazing and my support network as well. They are fabulous in their own right and I really enjoy the way we work together to make a positive difference in students’ lives. They are the face of the school and have to be really good at their jobs, which they are. There’s also the variety. There is never a dull moment. Ever! You have to get on with things and be able to problem solve on the go. It’s made me develop a lot (in my role) very quickly.”
Are there some challenges in your role? Every job has something.
“The main challenge is managing time. Prioritising so that the important things are done. A lot of my job is compliance and financial processing and that comes with deadlines so it has to be a priority. Strategic planning and processes are crucial areas, but they have to be managed in context and after Department deadlines. In the end, we’ve only got so many hours in the day. And we are working with people: parents, students, and staff so things aren’t always cut and dried. But we find a way to get it all done.”
You use School Stream at Dianella Heights Primary. Was it easy to set up and learn?
“Yes. At first it was a bit daunting. Change is never easy, I suppose. The first couple of times we had Zoom chats with Max (a passionate member of School Stream’s Customer Success Team) and finding out what the app could do for us was really good. Having that support on the end of the line and in the chat box is very helpful. I thought the time difference would be an issue, but it hasn’t been. The way you guys work is very helpful. We’re really starting to go digital with our forms – we haven’t had many excursions or incursions recently due to Covid restrictions, but these are just getting started again and we will be using digital forms and payments. I know I can ring, or email (School Stream) and I’ll get that support. We all know how to use it – I have to say the Deputy is a whizz at it! With all the Covid changes we had to send messages home after hours and we did it from our phones. It’s really convenient.”
How have your parents responded to using an app for school communication?
“We used another app before School Stream. We got most of the parents on it but since we’ve had School Stream, we’ve had almost 100% of the school sign up. We always get a couple who are reluctant because they don’t have a smartphone. But because we are planning the move to digital, they will have to be on it or they will miss out! Every new family who comes to the school gets a leaflet about it and when parents ring up for absentees, we ask them: “Do you realise you can send that through on School Stream?”
What features do you use the most?
“We send through all the important notices, and we do that every single week. It has been amazing to be able to keep the families up to date with news about Covid – and other things. We are going towards digital incursion and excursion forms, and we are going to chat with Max next week about setting up payments. We’ve also linked to the newsletter, absentee forms, our Facebook page, parents can swipe themselves in and out of rooms, and there’s a link to the P&C website. Quite a lot actually! We’ve come a long, long way with it.”
Thanks again to Jackie Kelly and her team.
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