Schools and businesses are starting to give themselves more space by getting rid of the filing cabinets. But where does the paperwork go?
I hadn’t realised this at first, but it seems that slowly the NHS has gone paperless. Patient records and reports between hospitals, clinics and surgeries have been scanned and logged.
Yes, the GP will still give you a piece of paper to take to the chemist, but even that is due to go soon.
But, on the other hand, school offices most certainly haven’t gone paperless. Which is a shame because if you have peeked inside a school office in the last few years you might well find that even if it is in one of the schools rebuilt under Tony Blair’s Building Schools for the Future scheme, the school office area is still likely to be woefully inadequate. Not in every case of course, but quite often.
Which means that an office that ought to be able to accommodate four people can actually only hold two, because there is a filing cabinet against every wall – a cabinet that not only occupies space on the ground, but also needs space in front of it to enable the drawers to open and for the administrator to stand in to find files.
This is actually quite dangerous because the cabinets are (obviously) packed with paper. Now although it is true that paper packed tightly together doesn’t combust nearly so easily as individual sheets, the fact is that most fires in schools are started by intruders (usually ex-pupils) who don’t think of starting a fire until they are actually in the school. They then use such combustible material as they can find.
The problem for the school then is not only that the school burns, but with it go its records. If only they had scanned in all the documents, they would then have them not only encrypted on the school’s own server, but also on one or two off site servers by way of backup.
However, I can now say that the move towards regularising this position is underway, and some schools – at least around my area – are starting to clear filing cabinets one by one, and scan in their records.
As the process develops the old filing cabinets are emptied into boxes, and the boxes are brought to Admiral for storage.
Of course, it could be argued that the school is now taking up the same amount of space but just elsewhere, so I asked one of the school managers involved exactly how the process is working.
He said, “We realised we had to do something about the office space, and we’ve seen other schools adopting this scheme, so we drew up proposals.
“But when they went to the governors there was a problem – they came up with every objection under the sun. They were concerned about security, about losing files, one of them even said (with a smug grin on his face) ‘what will you do in a power cut?’
“I told him, if the power went off, we’d have to leave the school, so whether we had records in the school or not would be neither here nor there, but he just shook his head, mumbled about the process being ‘too risky’ and that he would vote against.
“So we just kept coming back to the issue of not having enough room, and eventually we did get the governors to agree – but only on the grounds that we kept all the paper records off site for another five years.”
And that is how they have ended up with Admiral.
Of course, this is not a problem for us. As the school works through its records it scans and then removes more and more pieces of paper, and every couple of weeks another box or two comes over to us.
I’m happy to store the materials, and I gather the school administrators have never been happier.
If you are in the Midlands and have materials to store, please do get in touch so that we can help. I can’t help you find the right scanner, nor can I help you convince the governors, but I can most certainly hold the old files for a few years, until you know the scanning system is indeed working.
You can find more information on our facilities on our website at www.archive-document-storage.co.uk. Alternatively you can call us on 0800 810 1125.
Admiral Document Storage Ltd
Tel: 0800 810 1125