The National College for School Leadership (NCSL) has cut staff and visitor travel, and saved £54,000 on transport in three months, after implementing Cisco WebEx collaboration software.

It said that by holding 378 meetings over videolink between April and June, it had saved 57 tonnes of carbon emissions. Aside from journeys to and from work, over half of staff were using cars at least once a week for meetings.

The non-departmental body, which brings together headteachers, deputy heads and departmental heads across the country to discuss issues, said it had been spending heavily on travel before the system was introduced.

In 2006, it trialled the WebEx software to help reduce costs and cut the environmental damage caused by travel. Following the success of various pilots, and a competitive procurement process, it went live with the system this year, enabling its 260 permanent staff in different locations around the UK to collaborate remotely.

The software is now also being used for conferences and seminars with school leaders, after NCSL recognised the savings from staff use. It also said the system enabled headteachers to attend meetings more easily by joining remotely, rather than having to travel to the NCSL conference centre in Nottingham.

Matt James, e-learning specialist at NCSL, said: "Between April and June 2008 the college held 378 meetings, which saved £54,000 in travel expenses and 408 days in time, as well as 57 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions - the equivalent of a trip from London to Singapore for 36 people."

“Too many working hours spent travelling by internal staff is not only an inefficient use of time, but costly and damaging to the environment,” he added.

The savings were calculated based on the amount of travel mileage which would have been accrued if meeting participants had travelled to the NCSL conference centre. The assumptions recognise that some meetings may have taken place by phone or may not taken place at all if the technology had not been used.

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