The case for online school forms: Schools wasting $30,000 – $50,000 per year on paper

If there’s one thing we know, it’s that schools across Australia – and around the world – spend too much time and money on paperwork.  Adopting automated, online technologies to replace administrative paperwork – via online school forms, online medical records and online field trip management – can help address the needless waste.

Are you wasting $30K – $50K per year on paper?

We use too much paper.  Way too much.  Research by Forest Ethics’ found that North America chews through 229 kilograms of paper per capita per year, 178.7 in Western Europe, with Australia being the worst offender with an average of 230 kilograms per person annually.

School Paper Wastage

The George Lucas Educational Foundation (yes, that George Lucas) conducted some basic research into paper usage (*cough*, wastage, *cough*) in schools.  The findings suggested that a school with 100 teachers would spend roughly $25,000 on paper per year, $7,500 printing on that paper each year, and even more when equipment and service agreements were considered.  The article conservatively concluded that the average school spends $30,000 – $50,000 on paper and printing every year.  And, independent figures from additional sources support such estimates.

According to NYC Government figures cited on, our school systems use around 2,800 sheets of paper per person every year.  If each sheet cost five cents, that would cost $140 per student per year.  For a school of 1000 students, that’s $140,000 per year.  Even after applying generous bulk discounts (the scale of which don’t exist in the Australian school system), that cost still works out to $28,000 – substantiating claims made by the George Lucas Educational Foundation (  In fact, paper and printing services are one of the biggest budget items behind staffing, on the typical school balance sheet.

School Printing Costs

Research from Microsoft’s education software business suggests slightly more daunting figures in the UK, estimating schools are using up to one million sheets of paper at an average cost of £60,000 per annum.

Similar economic arguments have been made when it comes to paper use for classroom-based activities, with David Wees of The Reflective Educator notoriety conducting a survey in 2009, the results of which he extrapolated to suggest that “we could pay for a laptop per child in the US in [just] four years by stopping using paper in schools”.  Then there’s the time.


Time is money

Some approximations, like those provided by, suggest that people lose 15 minutes per piece of paper filed and processed.  Expanding this logic, if a school could find automated, online methods to replace and process just 40,000 pieces of paper per year, they’d reclaim 10,000 staff hours every 12-months.  Even if you don’t think these figures stack-up, the wasteful, error and risk-prone paper trail certainly does.

Time schools spend on paperwork

And, just think of how else that time might be spent.  According to research from the Stanford University Institute for Research on Education Policy and Practice, schools spend around 10 percent of their labour time reporting and fulfilling paperwork, and just one percent on evaluating curriculums, fundraising and professional development – collectively!  Read the full report here: Principal Time-Use and School Effectiveness.  


Case study: “it’s so much easier for excursions and permission notes”

Recently, we caught-up with Andrew Rayson, the ICT Leader for Our Lady Star of the Sea School in Australia.  Andrew spoke about how the CareMonkey platform had been received, and how it had streamlined the process of obtaining permission, managing medical records and holding excursions.

Ninety-eight percent of the pupils at Our Lady Star of the Sea have now gone paperless with CareMonkey.

“We found CareMonkey to be a really, really easy-to-use platform. The Adoption rate from our parents has been really successful. Teachers think it’s so much easier for excursions and permission notes. Our office staff find it a really, really easy tool to use, and it’s a great place for them to find information all in the one spot.”

 – Andrew Rayson, ICT Leader, Our Lady Star of the Sea School


Over to you

CareMonkey is a best-of-breed software solution for helping schools automate the request, capture and communication of student information and permissions to save time, money, reduce paperwork and ensure data accuracy.


Education providers can sign-up for a free 30-day trial HERE >

Parents can sign-up for a free family account, and create their child care profile, HERE >

With online excursion and permission forms, digital incident reporting capabilities, and centralised medical record keeping and action plans, CareMonkey empowers schools to deliver a paper-free, and safe, learning environment that parents can trust.