· 3 min read

Why Robin?

Schools are wonderful places, doing an almost impossible job.

Small leadership teams have to juggle the day-to-day running of education with the day-to-day running of budgets, premises, staffing and administration.

Senior leaders work on average for 57.5 hours per week, teacher recruitment and retention are in crisis, and schools find themselves doing more and more to cover for the collapse of other public services.

Despite many best efforts, household income remains a stubbornly strong predictor of educational outcomes.

GCSE attainment by household income Source: https://ifs.org.uk/inequality/education-inequalities/

Some schools are able to beat these odds through a combination of great leadership, operational effectiveness and resilience, and a helpful context - maybe their location, historic strengths, demographics, or funding.

But very few schools are lucky enough to have an ideal context. Very few schools can find and afford the people they need to run every function, design every curriculum, implement every system, and teach every lesson.

So we find ourselves with a school system that is uneven, under strain, and at times unfair - for staff as well as students.

Time-consuming tasks

For the last few months we have been asking school and trust leaders a question: if you could have one more person in your team, what would they do?

The answer has been consistent, and disappointing: “admin”.

Senior leaders say they are spending too much of their time doing work that is below their pay grade - work that doesn’t make the most of their skills, work they don’t enjoy, work they aren’t necessarily that good at.

One example is ensuring that school policies are up do date. This is critical information for the school community, and something Ofsted checks before an inspection. It is also a pain to co-ordinate!

Policies go past their review date, information is mistakenly removed, statutory requirements change.

Trust leaders have told us about the very time-consuming (and boring) process of clicking through every single school website to check that they are compliant - or paying someone else to do it as a one-off.

We think there’s a better way.

Not just a better way to review your policies, but a fundamentally better way to operate a school.

Operational excellence, at scale

None of these challenges are new, but artificial intelligence is shifting what’s possible.

You have probably tried ChatGPT, seen the images produced by DALL·E, or heard AI-generated music. There has been lots of coverage of the impact AI will have on teaching, learning, and assessment.

Those are all exciting, but our focus is different.

What excites us most about AI is its ability to inject capacity, intelligence, and know-how at the centre of school operations.

So our vision is that Robin will help you. It will audit your school policies and data to ensure they are compliant, and proactively help to address gaps. Robin will evaluate how your policies compare to the reality on the ground. It will allow leaders to ask questions, set expectations and monitor progress.

Our ambition goes well beyond compliance audits. We want to create a tool that first helps you understand your context, then helps you move forward: from compliance, to effectiveness, to excellence.

We want to create a school system that is more fair, more fun, and more effective. We’re excited to try and do our bit - and would love your help and feedback along the way.