30 January 2013

Acredited training for music education management

Now more than ever before the delivery of music education is operating in an increasingly commercial and competitive world. The quality of education on offer is undisputable, something which England can rightfully boast as world class. However, as businesses subject to economic pressures, there is a growing acceptance for the need to invest in their systems and, perhaps more importantly, their people.

Heads of Service and business managers often come from a music education background. They are dedicated professionals, passionate about their calling. And yet, they are facing tough times, spending large amounts of their time on budgeting, funding and people management. If these businesses are to survive and flourish, different skill-sets and behaviours may be required. Here are Paritor we have been lucky enough to work with music services and now hubs for almost 20 years. Our software is used by over 50% of the English Music Hub market. This unique and intimate relationship that we have built up over that time gives us a comprehensive understanding of the management side of music education. Therefore, in order to to address these issues Paritor have teamed up with Crisp Professional Development to offer Music Services professionals accredited management development programs.

These programs will be accredited by the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM), the UK’s largest management development organisation. Attending an accredited ILM course ensures quality of delivery and leads to a nationally recognised qualification. These qualifications will be directed towards those who are both middle managers and those who have management responsibilities but no formal training, the qualifications will be at both ILM Level 3 & Level 5

The Level 3 award is ideal for individuals who have management responsibilities but no formal training. It is particularly supportive of practising team leaders seeking to move up to the next stages of management and managers who need to lead people through change.

The Level 5 award is designed for practising middle managers, helping them to develop their skills and experience, improve performance and prepare for senior management responsibilities.

We have ensured that the wide geographical scope of attendees will not be detrimental so access to these courses will be as simple as possible. Participants can chose from a comprehensive package of online learning and tutorial support coupled with optional off-line workshops and peer learning.


Music Education Hubs: ACE data return

The purpose of the afternoon discussion was to analyse questions 3 – 6 of the ACE Data return. By looking at these we were able to debate the different issues and solutions in attaining the data requested by ACE.
As such we have created a list of issues, some of which will be taken to ACE for clarification.

Issues with Data Return

These are the common issues that attendees raised and were logged.
As the information will be coming from multiple sources, the risk of duplicating data is very high. This will distort the figures if there is not one rule on this issue that everyone must follow.
If figures are aggregated by partners before being submitted to the Hub, how can accurate continuation figures to be produced.
Does involvement in projects mean continuation?
If a Pupil is learning an instrument before First Access, then after the year or First Access they continue learning does that still count as Continuation?
Is there the possibility for a common letter to be sent out to all Schools to inform them of the importance of the Data Return?
Is this something ACE can help with or is that something the hubs will need to decide amongst themselves?
Can OFSTED ask schools to provide information to the hubs?
Is it possible to provide a sample of data (e.g. 50%) then submit assumptions from that figure?
Is there an age limit for statistics
What are the Data Borders/Criteria
For Ensembles, how are Pupils with multiple memberships to be counted? One per Pupil or one per Ensemble?
Clarification is needed on ‘Known to be Eligible’ for FSM and the ‘Statement of SEN’
With Assessment levels, there is an issue with the consistency of judgement by teachers
Also with Assessments, what about pupils with multiple instruments? If they have multiple assessment levels how is that to be documented?

Teacher Pay Types - Music Education Hubs

The morning session of our Music Education Manager's Discussion Day focused purely on teacher pay types. Here are the results:
Reconciling Pay – the reliability of Teachers
This issue was regarding the processes of retrieving information from Claim and Contracted staff, some of the services mentioned a problem chasing claims/hours from Contracted staff as it does not directly affect their pay.
Often each school will sign off the tuition which is used as a double check.
Several services use several documents (Registers, Timesheets, Schedules etc) to cross reference the claims
Some services carry out random spot checks with schools and timesheets rather than analysing each one.
For contracted staff, some services have it written into their contracts that contracted staff cannot claim additional hours.
One customer pointed out that teachers are paid depending on the number of pupil’s in their lesson rather than hourly, therefore teachers cannot get paid for extra time and also teachers are efficient in updating registers etc.
Managing Varied Contracts
This issue was around managing multiple contracts and agreements with the teaching staff, what is the most efficient way to manage this situation. Another point that was made in connection to this was: If salaried hours fall below the contract, is it the responsibility of the management to fill that time or of the teacher.
One solution to overtime was to only pay overtime once a year rather than once a month. This works on the assumption that although a teacher may do more that their contract one month, in a later month they may have fewer hours than their contract dictates, therefore the two will balance themselves out over time.
There was another solution called an ‘Annualised Hours’ contract, which is a contract that directly reflects the teacher’s hours over a year, rather than having a salary.
Others suggested the PAYE method of payment
Teacher Mileage
Most services had interesting ways of managing Teacher Mileage.
Some services have the mileage built into the contract
The mileage is calculated at the beginning of the year, and that calculation is what is paid – so no claims
Another solution is that if services were able to claim the VAT back from the mileage, the finance generated would cover the extra administration time needed.
Projected costs for Claim staff
This issue was raised in relation to calculating the monthly wages for teachers.
There is a need to log lessons which have been missed by teachers, including whether or not these lessons need to be made up
When completing Salary projections, these potential make-ups need to be considered
Also it is necessary to calculate the costs of these non-delivered lessons
Employing Teachers through an Agency
This is the interesting way that Swindon Music Service employ and manage their teachers.
All teachers are employed on a PAYE contract with the Agency
Teachers are then supplied on request
No liability as employers
If customers/Service are not happy with a Teacher they can get replaced by the agency
Increase contributions and emotional investment by teachers
This was discussed as ways to award and appreciate teachers who go above and beyond what is expected, and from that creating a culture where teachers are encouraged to do more.
It is important for Teachers to see that they are appreciated
There were suggestions of financial rewards to outstanding work
Provide a platform for teachers to show what they have done, with pictures and videos etc.
Potential issues if teachers are unwelcome…
Make sure that costs are covered
This issue was discussed as it is not yet something that Ensemble fully caters for.
Feeding in associated costs into Ensemble
Reflecting personal finance budgets



Arts Council - Gathering your data

The time is fast approaching when music hubs need to complete their Arts Council Annual Returns. Wouldn’t it be simple if you could get all of your teachers and partners to simply input their summary data into an online facility which you could access and use as you wished?

 Paritor is giving you the ability to do just that FREE of charge!

 All you need to do, is to create your music hub profile on our BRAND NEW technology SCHOOBLE, and email your teachers asking them to log on and complete their elements of the annual return. Each teacher creates their own unique account where they can then add their information to a set of simple forms. This information can then be collated and downloaded to excel, providing you with a simple and timesaving way in which to collect this all important data.

 This is only one of the fantastic things that will be available through Paritor Schooble. Schooble is our latest creation and a brain child of Paritor.

Schooble aims to take social media to a new level, specially designed for the world of education it provides a secure, safe and controlled environment to take advantage of modern communication techniques. It will be a place for all education stakeholders to gather, from Music Hub managers to parents.  As Schooble grows it will become a place for users to access a wealth of resources, communicate with likeminded people and build up personal portfolios.

Schooble’s secure single login framework provides an ideal platform to manage the online functionality of many education related schemes so it not only provides functionality to capture ACE data returns but already includes areas for Musical Bridges, Children’s University and Ensemble and will soon include much more.

 If you are interested in finding out more, please call one of the team on 01395 445092 or email sales@paritor.co.uk.

Music Education Manager's Discussion Day Feedback

As more hubs use Paritor’s Ensemble system to manage their administration, we have become increasingly involved in facilitating debates and discussion between our customers on the common issues faced by Hubs. We have also been able to publicise the inventive solutions our customers have been able to develop in order to solve these issues. With the current situation these relationships are now more important than ever. On the 29th January 2013 Paritor hosted a discussion day in Worcester, to give an opportunity for hubs to openly discuss the issues surrounding Teacher Pay & Conditions, and the ACE Data Return.

The event was attended by representatives from over 20 different services throughout the country, and once again highlighted the variations of solutions as well as the collective passion and ingenuity that Music Services show in these challenging times. The services ranged from some of the largest in the country to some of the smallest, as well as a healthy mix of services who do use Paritor’s Ensemble system and those who do not.


The morning session concentrated on the issues surrounding Teacher Pay & Conditions. The attendees included services who were part of their local authority, services who were Charitable Trusts, Services who have Claim staff, some who had Contracted, services who only dealt with Self-Employed staff; as well as several who managed a combination of all three. As a result of this attendees were able to discuss the common issues and solutions that have been found for each of these methods of payment; the notes we made will be published in a later blog post for those who would like to see them.


The afternoon session was dedicated to discussing the ACE Data return, more specifically looking at questions 3 to 7. This session was an invaluable opportunity to discuss the solutions and issues that hubs had found on a national, rather than regional level. By tackling these specific questions the attendees were able to discover what the common issues were, and which questions required more clarification from ACE in order to avoid confusion and inconsistent data return. As with the morning session we have been able to collate some notes, which will be published in a later blog post.


The time limit of just a few hours per subject meant that these debates and exchanges or ideas are set to continue throughout the coming weeks and months, and the partnerships that were formed will strengthen. To help accommodate this continued discussion, Paritor were very pleased provide an online forum which will enable attendees to instantly discuss issues and solutions with each other, regardless of location. More information will be available on this feature over the coming week.

Finally, we would like to thank everyone who came along to make this day possible, we found it to be both informative and thought-provoking. And we hope that through continuing to work together we can ensure the future of top quality music education.

Kind Regards

The Paritor Team

Data Hosting: Stopping snow destruction in its path!

It is true that the UK seems to ground to a halt every time there is the smallest flurry of snow. This can be detrimental to businesses across the UK.
Obviously, if a teacher can’t attend a lesson with a child then that’s one thing. But with the power of a hosted database it means that any of the administration and management information that is stored with Paritor Ensemble can be accessed anywhere, 24.7. Thus, making it possible for these teams to work even when they can’t get into work and hosting it on our database means that you get the benefit of faster access.

The benefits of data hosting doesn’t end there. Is your information being securely backed up? What would happen if you lost all of your information? Using a hosted database not only takes the hassle out of remembering to back up but the information is also kept on a highly secured server which has passed all of the security tests laid out by local authorities who have opted to use data hosting.  Further, more data hosting is likely to mean a reduction in capital costs as you don’t need to employ an IT team, time savings and scalability. It’s no wonder that a more and more of customers are opting to go ahead with data hosting with over 50% of them now choosing this service.

So can you really afford not to?

For more information please contact one of the team on 01395 445092 or email
sales@paritor.co.uk and we’ll be happy to go through it with you in more depth.  

29 January 2013

The beginnings of Schooble (Our newest and most innovative venture)

We're getting excited! Today is the pre-launch of Schooble and those attending our Music Education Manager's Discussion Day will get a sneak preview. Find out more about how Schooble came about ...

Paritor have been experts in Music Education Management for nearly 20 years. We started off providing software solutions for local authority music services, this market has changed and thanks to the Henley Review of Music Education (the government tasked Darren Henley, MD of Classic FM to do a comprehensive review of Music Provision in England and Wales) has developed and the importance of other music education providers have also been recognised. It is in this market place that we are UK market leader. Working closely with a range of providers of music education on a daily basis has meant that we have developed a unique and very comprehensive understanding of the market place. As a result we have been able to move from a purely software company to a company that specialises in the management of music education. Our product range has now expanded and we cover an enormous range from management software to consultation and accredited training.

It is this stance in the market place that prompted the Paul Hamlyn Foundation to contact Simon Dutton (MD) after they were tasked with developing a pupil passport, something which was addressed in the Henley Review of Music Education. The PHF contacted Paritor in an aim to help primary and secondary schools strengthen their students' experience of school transfer in and through music, an initiative know as Musical Bridges. After many meetings and discussion with various stakeholders Schooble was finally born.

23 January 2013

There are only 2 days left to book on to the Manager's Discussion Day

The morning session will focus on teacher pay types whilst the afternoon session will be looking at ACE data collecting and reporting. Please note that due to popular demand the venue has changed. The Discussion Day will be held at  The Chateau Impney Hotel, Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire, WR9 0BN.

For more information about the day please visit our website www.paritor.com, alternatively you can call one of the team on 01395 445092 or email sales@paritor.co.uk.

Innovative Technology: Using Microsoft Azure

Here at Paritor we pride ourselves on being at the forefront of new technologies in order to bring customers the most innovative and very best products. Our latest solution Schooble is due to be released next month and as a Microsoft Certified Partner we have decided to host user content such as videos and music on Microsoft’s Azure service. Azure is ‘highly available’ meaning that our customers will experience no downtime from the service and gain a significant increase in speed when streaming videos and music from the Schooble service in comparison to a traditional dedicated Web server solution.

16 January 2013

60 Music Hubs, 1 fantastic piece of software....

Do you want to:
  • Improve communication with both internal and external stakeholders.
  • Streamline administration
  • Produce comprehensive insight of your music hub
  • Provide all stakeholders with real-time information

 If you would be interested in a NO OBLIGATION FREE DEMO please contact one of the team on 01395 445092 or email sales@paritor.co.uk.

15 January 2013

Be prepared for snow closure

The snow can be a massive disruption to the UK and this is not least in education. School closures are often not announced until the day as well as problems such as teachers not able to make lessons and reschedules or cover.

Text messages are an easy and quick way of getting messages out to pupils, parents and teachers and we are  offering you 10% off texts until the end of the week (18/01/13). If this is of interest to you please email sales@paritor.co.uk or call one of the team 01395 445092.

Here's how to use the SMS/Text facility:

To access the SMS sending screen, click Tools on the ribbon menu.

Fig 1. The ribbon menu with Send Text Message button highlighted
Clicking the SMS button yields this screen. Completing the Tel Number field adds this number to the list you are sending the messages to. Once the first number is in, populate the text box on the right hand side with your message. The program gives you a word count in the bottom right hand corner.

Fig 2. The send the SMS screen
Once your message is complete, click Send SMS, which will send the message to the recipients in the list. Of course, text messages are not unlimited; to purchase more, there is a service within the program.

Fig 3. The SMS Log screen with purchase button.
From this screen you can buy more texts, but the principal function of this screen is to act as the SMS Log, which catalogues all the text messages that are sent through the system. The group, filter and date drop down menus allow you to sift through the texts more efficiently, as the potential number of texts sent through a hub can be very large. When you click the purchase texts button you will see the following screen.

Fig 4. The text message purchase screen.
From here you can purchase more text messages and view the Log. The Log keeps track of all the texts that are sent out through your system, their dates and times. This is especially useful if you use the SMS service to remind teachers and parents of dates in their calendar.
Paritor also has an internal email service which has been covered in a previous blog, which can be found here.
Both these services allow you, the music service, further opportunities to connect with and inform your staff and pupils; the idea being that you’ll be able to use Paritor’s software as a one stop shop for administration. Keeping emails and the all-important SMS service within the program means fewer programs being open and higher productivity, a boon at this time of year!

8 January 2013

Paritor is appealing to all EDUCATION or MUSIC charities to be it’s charity of the year.

This March, Devon-based software company Paritor’s staff will vote to support a music or education based charity for a year (April 2013 – March 2014). The company’s staff will fundraise throughout the year and also donate time and expertise in support of the charity.

To be eligible for nomination, a charity has to be:

  • a legally registered charity
  • based in music or education
  • ideally based in Devon or have some connection to the area.

If you feel your charity would benefit from our support and you would like to be nominated for our staff vote please contact me via email at Jodie@paritor.co.uk or call 01395 445092 before 28th Feb 2013.

7 January 2013

Music Education Manager's Discussion Day: Change of Venue

Due to popular demand we have decided to change the venue for the Music Education Manager's Discussion Day on 29th Jan. The new venue will be The Chateau Impney Hotel, Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire, WR9 0BN.

If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact us.