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There are many things we take for granted in life… until they go wrong. Like when the boiler breaks down on Christmas eve, your holiday flight is cancelled or the Wi-Fi drops out just before the big deadline. And when these things happen, our stress levels go through the roof.

In the same way, we all rely on our salary being correct, on time and in our bank account from one pay day to the next. If the figures are not as expected, it can be a source of gut wrenching anxiety for staff members, affecting their work and wellbeing.

But keeping a school’s payday stress free is easier said than done.

Margin of error

Behind every payslip is a complex set of calculations, deductions and adjustments, and these all have to be accurate to keep the payroll running like a well-oiled machine.

If a change to a tax code is missed, your staff member could find themselves facing a large tax bill several months down the line. And an incorrect pension contribution could tip someone over into long term financial hardship.

For support staff in particular, calculating pay can be something of a minefield.

Spanner in the works

Take the example of a teaching assistant who is also a one-to-one learning support assistant, midday supervisor and breakfast club leader. Then add to the mix the possibility that each of these roles could be paid at a different rate.

It’s not surprising that mistakes slip through the net.

But when someone doesn’t receive the wages they were expecting, the impact on their wellbeing can be far reaching. And bearing in mind support staff can make up to two thirds of a school’s workforce, having people on the team who are distracted by worries about missed pay can affect the smooth running of a school.

Distinct challenge

Payroll can be a factor in the stress levels of a school’s finance team too. The person calculating your payroll is likely to be simultaneously comforting a poorly pupil, receiving a bumper delivery of glue sticks and greeting a parent who has brought in their child’s packed lunch.

That’s why school payroll is not like any payroll.

Not only is it often the responsibility of a multi-tasking superhero, it also involves school-specific knowledge such as teachers’ pensions, annual payment increments and the fact that the school caretaker is also manager of the after school club.

Checks and balances

Having an education specialist payroll partner can ensure a school has someone who understands the quirks of school payroll, and your school’s payroll in particular. Someone who will work closely with the school every month to triple check the data before it goes to the bank, make adjustments on time, and spot anomalies before they wreak havoc.

Expert help can reduce the time an office manager, school secretary or headteacher spends every month reconciling the payroll from two days to two hours. Not only does it lighten their load, it frees them up to spend time on other areas of their role – and boosts their wellbeing too.

Taking the stress out of payroll brings everyone peace of mind, and leads to a happy, motivated and focused workforce for your school.

Keren Prior

Keren Prior

Since qualifying as a Secondary Science teacher Keren has worked in education for over 20 years, at the Science Museum in London, as a local government adviser in both Southend and Essex, and leading on education services for EES for Schools. Keren is currently the Operations Director at Juniper Education.