30 May 2013

Hints & Help: Raising Manual Invoices

 

This week’s Hints & Help I am going to take you through the process of raising a Manual Invoice. Sometimes you will need to produce a manual invoice for a one off, miscellaneous item, the Manual Invoice tool in Ensemble is the best one to use for this situation. To access the tool on the Ribbon Menu select Finance > Postings > Raise Manual Invoices

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The following screen will be displayed. From here you can enter all of the information required to create the invoice.

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You can raise Manual Invoices for Individuals, Organisations, or Schools. Once you have selected the Invoice Date, Payment Date, Term and Year, you can enter the Invoice Heading and Period Text.

Finally add the lines to the Invoice by clicking Add Line and inserting the information. When you have populated the Lines and are happy with the information you have created click Save and Close to create the Invoice. You can print the invoice using the standard Print Invoices tool.

22 May 2013

Guest Blog: Dick Hallam - A fresh perspective?

Richard Hallam has a lifetime's experience in all aspects of music education including as a teacher, Advisor and Inspector, Head of Music Service, professional trumpet player and conductor.

I had a really helpful meeting yesterday with a colleague who is in charge of managing a hub.

We were talking about the hubs’ role of challenging and supporting schools in providing ALL their students with an entitlement to a good music education. The funding for this is provided to schools directly as part of their responsibility to provide a broad and balanced curriculum or under the national curriculum, if that applies to them.
We also discussed the responsibility of the hubs to augment the schools’ provision through the (reduced) central funding and how it is so important to ensure that this money is well spent, not used to paper over the cracks of an inadequate music offer – or, to quote a more often used analogy, to put icing on a poor cake making it seem better than it really is.

In the past we have been complicit (for the best possible motives) in providing funding and music making opportunities to schools that provide an inadequate basic music education for their young people. We have provided them with the icing and a beautifully decorated cake, the substance of which was poor.
Hubs now have even less funding to augment the core music curriculum or to provide opportunities beyond those which an individual school can offer. It is therefore essential that those funds are used to help young people whose schools take full responsibility for what they do with their own funds. Not to do this is abdicating our responsibility to young people; wasting public funds and reinforcing behaviour that needs to change. We must still strive to help the others, but they must accept their responsibility and show a genuine desire and commitment to improve their offer for young people.
During the course of the conversation a fresh perspective occurred to me. Perhaps it is more like building a house on sand? If we continue to support poor practice without putting in place the support needed, paid for by the school because it wants to improve its music provision, we are in effect miss-spending the scarce centrally held funds, protected for music, and given to us as the people who should know best. If the foundations of a really good curriculum are not provided by the school, no matter how good the opportunities we provide, no matter how nice a house we build, the likelihood is that it will fall down and we will not have provided value for money or helped the young people in the long run.
First access programmes should be complementing and enhancing a good music curriculum.

Affordable and accessible progression routes for those who want to continue are of equal importance to the opportunity for young people to learn in the first instance. The same applies to the provision of appropriate ensembles. These core criteria are not hierarchical. They are of equal importance. Indeed, I would argue that we should not be giving young people First Access if we cannot enable them to continue after their first free period.

If we uphold quality and entitlement for all young people then the expertise of the hub and the reduced central funding will enable significant numbers of young people to have a good music education. When the economy picks up we will have the arguments and the evidence for increased funding so that, by 2020, the aspirations of the National Plan can become a reality for all young people. Is that a fresh perspective? It is certainly the one I have been aspiring to for the whole of my career and the one that I will continue to fight for. Together I still believe we can make this dream a reality. But it requires all of us to stand up for quality music education for young people. If not us, then who do we think is going to do it?

Dick Hallam, May 2013
 

21 May 2013

A big favour ....

Many of you already know that we're going through a rebranding exercise, you might have even seen our new website (www.paritorensemble.com) and so we are appealing to all of our lovely new customers/partners to ask them if they wouldn't mind writing a short testimonial. if you do have the time, please could you send them to Jodie@paritor.co.uk.

 A big thank you in advance!

20 May 2013

Guest Blog, David Ashworth - Planning for the Unexpected

David Ashworth is a freelance musician, teacher and education consultant. He is recognised nationally as a leading figure in ICT in Music Education and as the Project Leader for the ground breaking website, teachingmusic.org.uk 
 
A real worry for those music teachers, who run single person departments or are in a department of two, can be seen as the music teacher’s nightmare……”if I was taken ill and off work for a few weeks……”

Here are some thoughts on how teachers might cope with some of the problems that are bound to arise.
What work would pupils be given/be able to do? I think that the more you can build a a self directed learning ethos into the work you set, the more likely it will be that you and your students can cope with this challenge.  Schools where the curriculum takes a project based learning approach, should find it much easier to manage this issue.
 
Would they be able to carry on with their work/coursework? They would, but they will need to know the ‘plan’ for a unit of work in advance plus access to relevant learning resources - almost like a distance learning scenario. This might involve radical change and you can’t do it all at once. You probably need to prioritise exam classes and work out from there.

Who would know where to find the resources etc if I wasn't in school? When I was over in Cramlington recently, I was able to witness a superb system for managing musical equipment. The music department had appointed a team of “Roadies” [trustworthy senior pupils] who managed all the equipment borrowing and more importantly ensuring it was returned safely.  These music students had special badges and keys for cupboards etc. I’m sure they were granted some privileges in return for managing the stock.
 
I feel that the answer lies in the use of technology… yes converting all your materials into digital formats is the way forward. First, discuss with your ICT support how best to optimise storage/retrieval of content by teachers and pupils. Push for students being able to access these from home. Perhaps you can delegate some of the work here. Once you have decided what you are doing, digitising resources [worksheets , mp3 extracts etc] is fairly straightforward and perhaps can be passed over to clerical support, keen students etc. Your long term aim/dream would be to have a completely online scheme of work which other teachers and students can access. The other advantage of this is that students who cannot get into school for whatever reasons, can still continue with some of the work from home.

Technology can be a great help. In addition to the above you might still be able to manage some of the work from home if you can access student work via the internet, Skype conferencing etc.,
 

Technology is important but it cannot address all the concerns, for there some situations that will always require a human presence. I’m referring to activities like the leading of ensembles and choirs. Perhaps now is the time to start thinking seriously about delegating ensemble management to older students, suitably qualified parents, retired teachers etc. Why not go further and set up a ‘Friends of ………….School Music Department’, who could function in much the same way that a Music Service’s Friends Group does. And while we are talking about music services, perhaps it is now the time to talk to colleagues in your local hub re possible contingency support strategies.
 
David Ashworth May 2013

Paritor supports NMC Music Education Awards

This year, Paritor will be supporting the NMCMusic Education Awards by distributing the entry forms. These forms will be released in the next couple of weeks and anyone who wishes to receive one should email info@paritor.co.uk.

NMC awards are well established and highly acclaimed in the world of music education. The scheme recognises those authorities that are able to demonstrate imaginative, inclusive and all round high-quality music provision in a particular year.

15 May 2013

MEC Executive nominations and AGM

Note from Angela Ruggles, General Manager of Music Education Council:

As you know, the deadline for nominations for vacancies on the Executive Committee was last Friday.  We received one nomination each for the positions of Chair and Vice Chair and, therefore, Richard Hallam as Chair and Philip Meaden as Vice Chair are elected unopposed. Each will serve a three year term from July 2013 to July 2016.

Five nominations were received for the four vacancies for Members of the Executive Committee.  You are now invited to submit your votes for these vacancies.  I attach a voting form and the biographies of the nominees.  Please return your voting form to me by e-mail and no later than 5.30pm on Tuesday 4th June.

While writing I would like to advise you of the date, time and venue of this year's AGM. The Southbank Centre has kindly provided us with accommodation between 3pm and 4pm on Friday 28th June as part of their "Nucleo at Southbank" weekend. Please hold the date and I will send further details very shortly of the events that will be happening that day to which MEC members are invited. I will also shortly ask you to confirm your attendance at the AGM.

For more information, please visit http://www.mec.org.uk/

13 May 2013

Guest Blog: Alex Freeman, Software Developer. Optimising the use of support tickets.

So you need to contact Paritor Support, let’s say you were right in the middle of something and disaster struck. An error message appeared. Don’t panic! The first thing you should do is take a screen shot, in Windows XP the best way to do this is to press the “PrtScn” button on your keyboard, this can be found on the right hand side in above the “insert”, “delete” and “home” keys. The mouse pointer might flash to let you know that it has worked, if you don’t see it flash just press the key a few times to be sure.

Now we have the screen shot, we can close the error message and open up the support tickets by going to the main screen in Ensemble and click Help (at the top) -> Support Ticket Manager. Next we click New Ticket, in the new window give the ticket a title, something like “error when transferring a pupil”, or whatever it was that you were doing at the time.

Before you go ahead and write the ticket you should attach the screen shot so it doesn’t get accidentally forgotten about (we do this too!). What you need to do is go to Add Attachments, and in the new window click Attach from Clipboard. This takes the screen shot you took earlier and attaches it to the ticket. You can Save & Close this window and you should see on the right of the new ticket it says “Attachments: 1”, this lets you know that you’ve attached it correctly.
Now you can go ahead and write the ticket. We find the best ones explain what you were trying to achieve at the time the error occurred. This might be something like: “I was trying extract pupils who have lessons in the Autumn Term and are also taught by Teacher A. I went to Pupils then Extract Pupils, I chose one record per pupil activity and then selected the autumn term. Then I went to the teacher tab and selected taught by and selected the teacher then I clicked extract data. However I was not getting all the pupils I expected to see an example would be… ” The more information you give us in this initial ticket the less time we have to spend asking for more information, and the quicker we can solve the ticket!

We might not see the ticket straight away, but don’t worry, we will get to it as soon as we can and chances are even though you haven’t heard from us one of us will be looking into it so there is no need to ring up as this doesn’t make the process any faster.

To find out more about Paritor Ensemble, please visit www.paritorensemble.com.

 

Guest blogger appeal

We are looking for some interesting and differential content for our Paritor Ensemble blog and what better way than by inviting guest bloggers! So if you are based in the music education sector and have a good story, topic or event that you would like to write about then please get in contact with us blogger@paritor.co.uk.   

8 May 2013

Guest blog: Richard Hallam - 53plus 4 equals 1 (57 varieties or one voice?)

Richard Hallam is currently the MEC treasurer and was previously the National Participation Director for Music Education as well as undertaking other roles in music education including as a Teacher, Advisor and Inspector, Head of Music Service, professional trumpet player and conductor.
 
Not sure of the relevance of this? Bear with me and read on.
 
After a week off at Easter, the ISM conference became the 4th conference I had attended in 5 weeks. There was a small overlap with delegates who had attended the previous three conferences, but once again a committed and passionate group of musicians and music educators met together in the stunning surroundings of Queens’ College Cambridge for the musical equivalent of a gastronomic delight of the highest quality. (Actually the food was great too). High quality music and stimulating discussions were in evidence everywhere. A fabulous jazz quartet (4) got us off to a brilliant start, followed by panel discussions on the future of music education, audience development and venues(12) with good participation from delegates. An interview with John Rutterby Oliver Condy (2) was entertaining as well as informative. Three new compositions by young composers (3) received their world premiers in the superb acoustics of the college chapel, expertly sung by a very talented group of young singers, (22) ably conducted by ISM’s President, Suzi Digby (1). On day 2 Melvyn Tan (1) led a Messiaenmasterclass with another 5 exceptionally talented young musicians and we were treated to the most evocative and moving performance of Quatuor pour la fin du temps by Melvyn on piano, Mark Simpson (clarinet), Jack Liebeck (violin) and Guy Johnson (cello) (+3).
 
So why did I decide to blog on this topic?
 
First because, when I mentioned to colleagues that I was to be President of the ISM (2013/2014), I encountered lots of misunderstandings about what the ISM is and who it is for. Essentially, the ISM champions the importance of music and sets out to protect the rights of all of those working in music. It has members for whom it provides a range of support services, including a register of teachers and bespoke legal and insurance cover. The ISM provides CPD and is a member of the council of subject associations. I could go on, but if you are interested, you can find out more at http://www.ism.org/
 
My second reason follows on from recent blogs in which I have exhorted colleagues to work together for the overall good of music education and lifelong learning – particularly in respect of school aged young people – in and out of school. In my semi-retirement, I am fortunate to have been able to prioritise the time to attend all of these conferences. Financially, I am also very fortunate to be able to afford to spend time not earning and pay for my own travel, accommodation and conference fees. Both of these are important considerations for colleagues who, by attending conferences are missing teaching or working with the young people, not earning and having to fund themselves or be paid for by cash strapped organisations!
 
There was a remarkable coherence from the 53 voices at the ISM conference – quality, passion, commitment, inspiration, inclusion, progression etc. And there were similar messages across all four conferences. As a sector we do have a common message. We do speak with a single voice. But too often we still speak alone. Organisations too can work more effectively together for the greater good. That is the responsibility of those leading the organisations.As the current President of the ISM I am one of those leaders and I hereby publicly commit to trying to do this. I look forward to working with other colleagues to the same ends. If you are not already a member of a professional organisation, join one. Use its communications channels to ensure that the leaders stay in touch with the essential work you do on the ground so that we continue to fight for the policies and funding to enable you, through music, to use the power of music to transform lives for the better.
 
Together we CAN make a difference.


Guest blog: Bill C Martin - Values versus Commercialism in Education

Almost everyone you ask - government, parents, young people and the music education sector itself - believes that music changes the lives of children and young people for the better. They believe that under-18s should have access to a broad range of progressive music education experiences, beyond those that happen in the classroom, as articulated in England’s National Plan for Music Education.

Though public funding is still being made available for this the pot is getting smaller and we are being asked to do more with it. This means most hubs and music services must increase their income from traded services. But how do they square their strongly held educational values, ethics and beliefs with the commercial realities of 2013?

Trust

Over the years many in the music education sector have been understandably squeamish about the business sector. “Aren’t those nasty sales people just trying to sell us things we don’t really want or need, peddling loaded opinions and trying to mislead us?” they cry. Some companies may have tried it in the 20th century but it would be commercial suicide in the 21st, when negative reactions travel across the social networks at the speed of light.

In my experience, over several decades of walking the tightrope between my own strongly held values and working in the commercial sector, balance is achieved by:

1.    Choosing to place the needs of clients and stakeholders before one's own commercial needs. Without exception!

2.    Choosing to obsess, genuinely, about excellence, providing 'hero' solutions to clients' biggest problems and continually finding new ways to exceed their expectations

Admittedly, there may be occasions when you may feel like you're a turkey voting for Christmas! But what that does is to develop a trusting relationship in which both parties can benefit and excel.

Now, in 2013, I'm being joined on this particular tightrope by increasing numbers of music education hubs and music services that now have to earn far more of their income from traded services than they've had to before. And many are understandably unsure about how to achieve this balance.

From Commodity to Solution

Music education hubs that don't examine client's needs deeply enough run the risk that their services will be viewed simply as a commodity, because the client won't see the value in them. This will tend to move the focus of discussions from value to price. A symptom of this is when hubs notice that schools are opting for the cheapest providers.

So a hub that wants to sustain itself over the coming years must listen to schools, young people, parents, community, Ofsted, Arts Council, partners, local authorities or other relevant admin bodies and staff. From a deep understanding of clients' and stakeholders' top priorities it can then design, define, refine and then deliver the unique value that will meet those needs.

But beware! From a commercial point of view, that value is defined by the client, not the provider. You may have hit on a great offer but if it doesn't even make your clients' top ten priorities, then it's unlikely to engage anyone. If your needs analysis is too shallow or infrequent, or if it seeks only to serve external stakeholders like Ofsted or Arts Council, then it isn’t going to help you, either. If you really want to compete on value, not just on price, you must provide services that become trusted solutions, not just commodities.

The Future

The good news is that there are a number of hubs that are successfully balancing ethics and values with the provision of outstanding and engaging traded services that truly delight their clients and stakeholders. As more hubs seek help to take advantage of the current dose of 21st-century change, they will improve their chances of continuing to develop and deliver programmes that will truly change the lives of the next generation.

Bill Martin works with hubs, music services and business across the UK, providing strategic advice, training and consultancy. His specialisms include leadership coaching and board facilitation, brand and communications strategy and music CPD. Initial meetings are free. http://billcmartin.co.uk/home/

7 May 2013

New faces: Ed Smiddy and Danny Wordsworth

Our ever increasing customer base has meant that we need to take on more people to support the demand. This month we’re saying a massive welcome to Danny Wordsworth and Ed Smiddy who have joined the team as Customer Relationship Executives. Once they are fully trained on the intricate workings of Ensemble they will be helping users with support and user issues. They will also be taking over the production and upkeep of support materials (manuals, how-to guides, video etc).

Their profiles will  be appearing on www.paritorensemble.com very soon!  

1 May 2013

Our first Charity of the Year meeting with Honeylands Children's Charity

This week we had an exciting meeting with our charity of the year to discuss fundraising over the next 12 months. It was agreed that whilst fundraising is important, that they wanted something that would support them over the next 12 months, and so Paritor together with new chairman, Les Christiansen’s new challenge is to raise the profile and support for this fantastic charity.  At the meeting we decided that the main fundraising will come from two main events together with the other support. Watch this space!  

Find out more about Honeylands Children's Charity