Technology-first for Aberdeen schools

Aberdeen City Council is using new technology to reduce the administrative workload involved in drawing up teaching plans.

The Council has become the first local authority in Scotland to use Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in this way – freeing up time that will equate to having 14 more teachers in city schools.

Until now, city teachers have been required to re-type information from individual educational plans into a central system where it could be accessed by other agencies supporting a young person’s development.

Under the new process, school staff will still create the plans but RPA will securely transfer the data to the central system.

The use of RPA will also make it easier to access critical information outside of school hours and in the school holidays.

Councillor John Wheeler, convener of the Educational Operational Delivery Committee, said: “Aberdeen City Council is again adopting new technology to improve outcomes – in this case, for the city’s young people, including some of our most vulnerable residents.

“Using RPA to reproduce individual education plans is a win for pupils, a win for teachers, and a win for the public pound.”  

The introduction of RPA is the latest example of Aberdeen City Council using technology to transform services and operations.

Earlier this month the Council, in collaboration with Microsoft, launched a chatbot to provide customer visiting the website with information about education, waste and recycling, roads and street lighting, and Council Tax.

Director of customer services Andy MacDonald said: “By reducing time-consuming administrative tasks in the classroom, RPA is creating additional capacity across our schools and allowing us to sustain and enhance services at a time when demand is increasing.

“Our investment in digital technology is also contributing towards overall savings of £9.5 million for the Council – approved as part of 2019/20 budget – through operational efficiencies.”

In developing and testing the RPA, Aberdeen City Council worked with Microsoft, digital services company Agilisys, and teachers.

Chief education officer Eleanor Sheppard said: “The reduction in administrative work will allow more staff to engage with training which focuses on how to write an effective plan and set appropriate targets for pupils. 

“This, in turn, should result in an increase in positive outcomes for many young people across the city.” 

Aberdeen City Council has been leading the way in digital innovation. In 2019 the Council became the first local authority in Scotland to launch both school admissions and placing requests as a fully online process.

Partly in recognition of its approach to transformation, Aberdeen has been shortlisted for Council of the Year category at the annual LGC Awards – the only Scottish authority in the running.

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