Education Executive January 2022 issue

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ISSUE 164

EDUCATION EXECUTIVE DEVELOPING SBL DRAGON SCALES

WHAT EDTECH TRENDS CAN WE EXPECT IN 2022?

Husham Khan reflects on his SBL journey

A new year means new gadgets and software

IDENTITY AND ACCESS MANAGEMENT

SHAVING OFF THE POUNDS

Andrew Blench explores the risks and solutions

How to keep budgets looking healthy this year

How to stop ‘firefighting’ and feel more in control Val Andrew gives advice on how to combat negative thoughts

Supporting business and f inancial excellence in schools and academies January 2022


Manchester- 5th May 2022 London- 9th June 2021

GET YOUR DIARIES OUT!

We’re back with dates for our 2022 events! We know an SBL’s diary is always jam-packed, so make sure you note down the dates now, so you don’t miss out on a fantastic day of CPD tailor-made for the SBL. Look out for more updates over the coming weeks and months about what you can expect from the day including speakers, exhibitors and how to claim free tickets!

SAVE THE DATE!

MANCHESTER - 5TH MAY 2022 LONDON - 9TH JUNE 2021 email hello@edexeclive.co.uk to reserve your place Learn more at edexeclive.co.uk


Contents LEADERSHIP BY EXAMPLE

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Leadership by example {REFECTIONS ON THE ROLE}

NEWS Latest school business management news in brief

Developing SBL dragon scales HUSHAM KHAN, SBL and author, reflects on his SBL journey and how he went from surviving on a diet of baked beans to overcoming multiple adversities and publishing his very own Amazon top 100 selling book

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y career as an SBL has not been conventional by any means and you could even say it has been ‘free-spirited’. As a BAME SBL, it has been tough, I will not lie; I’ve even had feedback from an interviewer to say that I should change my name. Would I do anything differently? Absolutely not! Tracing back to my parents, both of them had tough upbringings. My dad was a refugee who fled from persecution and my mother spent time in care as a child. These are the life compasses that I use to keep grounded and to steer myself in the right direction. I have been blessed with many experiences and opportunities but, until recently, none of it made sense. I came into education by pure chance and I remember one day, when I was 24 years old, having graduated from university and applied for over 300 jobs, my opening presented itself. I had just purchased my first house, had a mortgage as long as my arm, and was working

08 NEWS REPORT The return of Ofsted: Why they’ve not had a warm welcome back

10 SPOTLIGHT ON: ACADEMY TRANSFERS AND FUNDING The latest data on academies News and views {BIG ASK}

What are your hopes and resolutions for 2022? As we enter a new year, we asked you to put your optimistic hats on and tell us what your hopes and resolutions are

Conny Brandt, school business manager

2021 was certainly tough; personally, I found it much harder than 2020 - but there are two big things I am looking forward to in 2022. I am due to complete my CMDA course in the summer. This has been a very intense and timeconsuming course and finishing it will feel like getting my life back! It has also been both interesting and really useful; it has been hugely rewarding for me to contribute to school in a way that I would previously not have been able to do, because I have developed my understanding of the wider context I work in. Secondly, I am also excited about our new executive headteacher starting in September. We are extending this role from a single-school

headteacher to also oversee other education services within the wider charity my school belongs to. Alongside this, my role will also develop to support these services, as well as being part of strategic planning for the wider organisation, allowing me to put more of the learning from my CMDA into practice. My new year’s resolution will be to organise my work more effectively and not keep slipping back into bad habits… Other than this, I am looking forward to conferences, courses, networking meetings and other opportunities to meet up with my fellow SBMs, who never fail to inspire, motivate and make me laugh!

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SHAVING OFF THE POUNDS How to keep budgets looking healthy

PROTECTING YOUR EQUIPMENT Theft from schools continues to be a problem

LIVE IT Close your eyes. Inhale. Count to five… now exhale. Time to take a few moments out for some light and interesting reading – a well-earned break from numbers and statistics

MANAGEMENT {BEING A LEADER}

DEVELOP YOUR DRAGON SCALES

January 2022

DEVELOPING SBL DRAGON SCALES Husham Khan reflects on his SBL journey

PREPARING FOR THE GOVERNMENTS’ SUSTAINABILITY AND CLIMATE CHANGE STRATEGY Robin Harrison explains how to create a realistic environmental policy

: le op pe s, g in ord ad yw Le s onl so It’ more but STEPHEN PEACH, assistant headteacher and business manager, Dacorum Education Support Centre, discusses the power that words hold and how you can make sure you’re using your words wisely

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e often make light of situations by trying to diminish the power of words. We use expressions like, ‘Actions speak louder than words’, or ‘Talk is cheap’ or, better yet, ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’. When things get really bad, we comment, ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me’. Except we all

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know that’s rubbish. The effects of a badly chosen sentence can take a lot longer to recover from than physical injuries. We know that words have amazing power – the power to hurt or heal. Think of the difference between people’s reactions when told the words, ‘You’re hired’ or ‘You’re fired’. There may only be a single letter that’s different between those two sentences, but the people’s reaction to each could not be more opposite.

We know the power of words that have hurt us, and we’ve all seen the power of our own words that hurt others. Someone has said that words are like eggs dropped from a great height – you can’t get them back and you can’t avoid the mess they make. If you think about things that have been said to you over the years, you’ll see what I mean. There’s a world of difference between ‘I love you’ and ‘It’s over’ and the effect of either can last a lifetime.

January 2022

LEADING PEOPLE: IT’S ONLY WORDS, BUT MORE SO Stephen Peach discusses the power that words hold

30 TECHNO GEEK What edtech trends can we expect in 2022?

34 SWITCHED ON The latest news and views from the world of ICT and edtech ICT matters

40 HOW TO STOP ‘FIREFIGHTING’ AND FEEL MORE IN CONTROL Val Andrew gives advice on how to combat negative thoughts

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{DATA MANAGEMENT}

22 A VIEW FROM THE ENGINE ROOM The WORKING SBM looks forward to a more prosperous 2022

LIVE IT

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The next five years saw me become school business manager and finance director at two large secondary schools. During these

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ICT MATTERS

Identity and access management

60 SECONDS WITH Ally Bigwood, chief operating officer at Churchill Academy and Sixth Form

With every new product or tech service there is a potential security issue. What are the risks, and what should schools do to provide a secure environment? ANDREW BLENCH, SBM consultant at School Business Partner, explores

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ll schools will use a range of software and hardware which relies upon the storage and retrieval of personal data, including data about children and adults working in schools, ranging from a school management information system to payroll and catering systems.

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There are many risks which can occur when using these systems; this includes the risk that the wrong people access this data and use it for financial gain or criminal purposes. There is also a clear safeguarding risk to personal data falling into the wrong hands – for example, some of our most vulnerable children rely upon their personal data and location being kept from

January 2022

BACK TO SCHOOL  CPD  SUSTAINABILITY

IDENTITY AND ACCESS MANAGEMENT Andrew Blench explores the risks and solutions

EDUCATION EXECUTIVE

BIG ASK What are your hopes and resolutions for 2022?

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full time as a mental health outreach, coaching psychiatric patients in health and fitness. My partner at the time (now my wife) took me into a temping agency and they had a job working in a schools finance division within the council. I took the job knowing that I had to make this work as I was moving from a permanent job to an agency job on far less money (I think I was earning £3 per hour). Every penny I earned went on my bills and I think I lived on baked beans for a year. The job led to a permanent role within a city council for four years as a schools finance officer. It was within this role I found my mojo, learned my trade, and developed the largest training programme the council had ever embarked upon. This programme has been used by all the schools in the local authority which was over 400 - and still runs to this day.

MANAGEMENT

EDUCATION EXECUTIVE ISSUE 164

NEWS & VIEWS

DEVELOPING SBL DRAGON SCALES

WHAT EDTECH TRENDS CAN WE EXPECT IN 2022?

Husham Khan reflects on his SBL journey

A new year means new gadgets and software

Supporting business and f inancial excellence in schools and academies January 2022

IDENTITY AND ACCESS MANAGEMENT

SHAVING OFF THE POUNDS

Andrew Blench explores the risks and solutions

How to keep budgets looking healthy this year

How to stop ‘firefighting’ and feel more in control Val Andrew gives advice on how to combat negative thoughts

WWW.EDEXEC.CO.UK

On the cover There is a greater focus right now on mental health and wellbeing - and rightly so – but the extent to which our school leaders are being affected is worrying, says Val Andrew.


Editor’s comment It’s finally a new year! It would be an understatement to say 2021 was a difficult year, and I’m sure I can speak for us all when I say I’m glad to see the back of it. Although 2022 has got off to a shaky start with cases still rising, I think there are still reasons to stay optimistic and hope that this year won’t be as hard as 2020 and 2021. There will be many challenges on the road ahead, but SBLs aren’t ones to shy away when the going gets tough, and I know you will meet these hurdles head on and get the job done as you always do. One of the challenges your school might face, if it hasn’t already, is the return of the Ofsted inspection. In our news report we explore why the inspectorate isn’t being welcomed back with open arms. SBL Husham Khan is no stranger to challenging times, and he tells us how he has used the adversities he has faced to build his resilience and develop ‘dragons scales’. Speaking of challenges, balancing the budget is one that never seems to get easier. Stephen Mitchell offers some ideas on how you can keep your budgets looking healthy this year. Despite the difficulties the year may bring, we asked you to put your optimistic hats on and tell us your hopes and resolutions for 2022 in our BIG ASK. The WORKING SBM also looks forward to the year ahead and gives some tips on how to find that work-life balance this year. Val Andrew gives her advice on how you can put that fire hydrant down to stop firefighting and feel more in control. The issue of sustainability is only going to become more important in 2022, and to get you prepared Robin Harrison explores how you can develop a realistic school environmental policy and associated action plan which will actually make a difference to your school’s impact on the climate. In our ICT MATTERS section, we discuss how to protect your IT equipment, Andrew Blench looks at how to protect your data and Gary Henderson gets out his crystal ball and predicts the edtech trends we can expect to see in 2022. We’d love to hear any suggestions you have for the magazine. If you’d like to get involved with EdExec, or if you’d like us to cover a certain topic, please do let us know. Contact eleanor@intelligentmedia.co.uk or tweet @edexec with ideas, opinions or success stories.

Education Executive is the first business management magazine written exclusively for school business managers and bursars, bringing you the latest issues affecting your role, from finance to premises, procurement to HR. EdExec delivers the lowdown on all the hottest topics in education management right here, every month.

@EdExec Design

Graphic designer Amanda Lancaster alancasterdesign.com

Editorial

Editor Ellie Potter eleanor@intelligentmedia.co.uk

Sales

info@intelligentmedia.co.uk

Publisher

Vicki Baloch vicki@intelligentmedia.co.uk

ELEANOR POTTER EDITOR We want to hear from you! Is your school doing something wonderful? Do you have an opinion or experience you’d like to share? A story suggestion? Or some advice you’d like to share with your peers? Get in touch – email eleanor@intelligentmedia.co.uk

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Education Executive is published by Intelligent Media Solutions Intelligent Media, 115 Mare Street, London, E8 4RU Tel 020 3794 8555 | Fax 020 3794 8554 Email info@intelligentmedia.co.uk Web www.intelligentmedia.co.uk


Contributors The education sector can be difficult to navigate at times, and those in school business management play a pivotal role in steering schools to success. Tasked with everything from finance and procurement, to HR and admin, you keep the education cogs turning. Education Executive addresses the most pressing matters faced by SBMs, offering meaningful insights and practical advice – essentially, all you need to run your school. Our contributors, drawn from the Education Executive team and sector innovators and experts, offer invaluable business insights from both the sidelines and front line.

ELEANOR POTTER Editor Education Executive

STEPHEN PEACH Assistant headteacher and business manager Dacorum Education Support Centre

STEPHEN MITCHELL CEO Keystone Knowledge

ANDREW BLENCH SBM consultant School Business Partner Limited

NEWS STORIES RESOURCES EXPERT BLOGS

EDUCATION EXECUTIVE


News and views {NEWS}

NEWS

The latest news and views from the world of education

Don’t call young people ‘woke’, says leading headteacher Adults should stop mocking young people by calling them ‘woke’ for standing up for things they believe in, says a leading headteacher. Samantha Price, president of the Girls’ Schools Association, is urging parents and teachers to keep up with the younger generation instead. She told a conference that pupils are genuinely worried about racism, sexism and climate change; they want to address these issues with support from adults, she adds. ‘Woke’ is an informal term from the US, meaning alert to injustice and discrimination in society - particularly racism and sexism - but it is often used in a derogatory way to criticise someone for a certain set of views. “This so-called ‘woke’ generation are actually simply young people who care about things about causes, about the planet, about people,” said Price, headmistress of the prestigious independent Benenden School in Kent. “It, ultimately, comes down to something very simple: being kind. Isn’t that what we all want our toddlers to be? We teach them to be kind. “And then, when they grow up to be impressive, kind young people, with an understanding and appreciation for the world around them, how can it be right that we mock them, or dismiss them as unrealistic ‘do-gooders’?”

@susie_dent: Word of the day is to ‘noggle’ something - 19thcentury English dialect meaning ‘to manage something with difficulty/to just about scrape through’. (As in ‘I could barely get out of bed this morning, but I noggled it somehow’.)

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@AhirShah: When this is all over, Chris Whitty should be allowed to go on television whenever he has good news he wants to share.

COVID-related absence remains a concern despite catch-up Ofsted has published a series of reports looking at how the pandemic continues to impact on children and students’ learning and personal development, and the approaches education providers are using to help them catch up. The three reports, which follow on from Ofsted’s autumn 2020 series of COVID-19-themed briefings, look at the findings of 214 routine inspections, from early years through to post-16 education. Despite the disruption to their education, inspectors found that many schools are effectively helping children recover from missed learning. However, despite positive progress, it is clear from Ofsted’s inspections that low attendance remains a stubborn concern. Schools report that much of the absence is for reasons related to COVID-19, including: pupils testing positive for COVID-19; COVID-19-related anxiety among both parents and pupils; poorer mental health among pupils as a result of the pandemic; parents rescheduling or rearranging term-time holidays; children having low resilience due to setbacks or illness.


News and views {NEWS}

News in brief

Most deprived schools hit hardest by education cuts in England, IFS says Cuts to education spending in England over the last decade are ‘effectively without precedent in post-war UK history’ and have hit the most deprived schools hardest, according to analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS). Its report highlights how the most disadvantaged fifth of secondary schools have faced the biggest cuts, with a 14% real terms fall in spending per pupil between 2009 and 2019, compared with nine per cent for the least deprived schools. It also says recent changes to the way education funding is distributed has compounded this disadvantage by providing bigger real-terms increases for the least deprived schools. According to the IFS recently published annual report on education spending in England, public spending on health has gone up as investment in education has declined. In the early 1990s, health and education spending each represented about 4.5% of national income but, while education investment has stayed pegged at about this level, health spending rose to more than seven per cent of national income before the pandemic.

Shropshire schools could face higher catering charges Shropshire schools might have to pay more to support a school catering service, which is forecast to lose £600,000 this financial year. The losses made by Shire Services, which supports 60 schools in Shropshire, are not sustainable, the council said. Some subsidies given to smaller schools may be removed in a bid to make the service more efficient. Shropshire Council has promised to consult schools before making changes. A report to the council noted that 58% of the Shropshire schools the catering service looks after have fewer than 200 pupils. It said these schools may be charged more in the future as they are costly to serve, partly because they are charged lower management fees and because they contribute less to sickness and absence cover.

Hundreds of calls made to UK helpline about sexual abuse in schools More than 850 calls, many alleging sexual abuse and harassment in schools, have been made to a national helpline set up after the Everyone’s Invited website revealed widespread sexism, misogyny and abuse in education. A total of 150 calls were so serious that they have been referred to police and other agencies for further investigation, according to the NSPCC children’s charity which runs the helpline. The incidents reported include sexual name-calling, unwanted sexual touching, sexual assault and rape by other pupils, as well as online abuse such as sharing nude images without consent. The helpline was launched in April and was due to run until the end of December, but the time limit has been extended in response to continuing demand. It will continue to operate ‘for the foreseeable future’, according to the NSPCC. Kam Thandi, the head of the NSPCC helpline, said, “This helpline has been a lifeline for hundreds of people, many of whom had previously felt unable to reach out for help and support.” According to the NSPCC the helpline has handled a total of 861 contacts and, where information about the caller is known, 142 were from an adult or child victim, of whom 85 were female, 50 male, two transgender and five unknown. A further 81 contacts were from a parent concerned about their child.

@secretHT1: The night is darkest before the dawn. Right now it’s pretty dark. But, brighter days will come.

January 2022

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News and views {NEWS REPORT}

The return of Ofsted Why the inspectorate isn’t being welcomed back with open arms

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n November Ofsted were asked by the government to inspect all schools and further education (FE) providers by summer 2025, to give a quicker assessment of how well education is recovering from the pandemic. Beginning with last term’s inspections, all schools and FE providers will be inspected at least once by summer 2025. Schools will continue to receive either graded or ungraded inspections, depending on their circumstances, as they do now. “Schools and colleges have worked tirelessly to teach and support children and learners, at a time when their education has been seriously disrupted,” said Amanda Spielman, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector. “Children only get one chance at school. Everyone working in education must do everything they can to give this generation the best possible chance to fulfil its potential. Ofsted will play its part – by

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giving parents and learners up-to-date information, and by helping schools and colleges to shape their plans. I’m pleased that we will now be able to reach all schools, colleges and apprenticeship providers by summer 2025.”

UNHAPPY HEADS However, the return of Ofsted inspections hasn’t been welcomed by everyone. In letters to The Guardian, headteachers expressed their dismay. Rachel Hornsey, headteacher at Sutton Courtenay C of E primary school, said, “As a headteacher, my vision must be maintained amid shifting goalposts. Prior to 2019, a school’s raw attainment data was enough to make or break an inspection grade; since the new framework, it is whether your planned curriculum matches exactly what is in the books that is the deciding factor - and there has been a pandemic in between. “Meanwhile, a crisis in

children’s services adds more responsibilities. Due to a 60% increase in referrals to the Oxfordshire multi-agency safeguarding hub, and its lack of resources, work with vulnerable families has now fallen to schools. “I am working hard to make sure my school is well prepared for Ofsted. The inspection begins with a 90-minute ‘phone call, where I will need to set the tone, but I don’t know if this will come this week, this month, or even this year. The inspection process is inadequate as a method to improve educational outcomes for our children.” Dr Chris Pyle, head of Lancaster Royal grammar school, agrees. “I have recent experience of the inspectors’ frantic, two-day hit. The disconnect between schools and the inspectorate is most glaring with regard to the pandemic. Ofsted has made the bizarre decision to exclude all specific references

The inspection process is inadequate as a method to the pandemic from many recent reports. The single, cutand-paste, phrase that it had been ‘taken into account’ was the best it could do for my school. In the period of greatest educational disruption since 1945, this makes it appear tone deaf or irrelevant.”

‘BRUTAL’ INSPECTIONS Hornsey and Pyle are not the only ones to feel this way; heads are sharing stories of ‘brutal’ inspections on social media. Many admit they aren’t coping with the dread of Ofsted arriving when their school is in crisis mode. Some have resigned, and experts say many more will follow.


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News and views {SPOTLIGHT ON}

SPOTLIGHT ON

Academy transfers and funding These statistics show the number of academies that have moved trusts from the financial year 2013-14 to 2020-21 and the total grant funding provided Total number of academies that have moved trust during 2020-21: 189

Percentage of academies where grant funding was provided for transfers during 2020-21: 21%

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January 2022

Percentage of academies that moved trust in England during 2020-21: 2%


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News and views {BIG ASK}

What are your hopes and resolutions for 2022? As we enter a new year, we asked you to put your optimistic hats on and tell us what your hopes and resolutions are

Conny Brandt, school business manager

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2021 was certainly tough; personally, I found it much harder than 2020 - but there are two big things I am looking forward to in 2022. I am due to complete my CMDA course in the summer. This has been a very intense and timeconsuming course and finishing it will feel like getting my life back! It has also been both interesting and really useful; it has been hugely rewarding for me to contribute to school in a way that I would previously not have been able to do, because I have developed my understanding of the wider context I work in. Secondly, I am also excited about our new executive headteacher starting in September. We are extending this role from a single-school

headteacher to also oversee other education services within the wider charity my school belongs to. Alongside this, my role will also develop to support these services, as well as being part of strategic planning for the wider organisation, allowing me to put more of the learning from my CMDA into practice. My new year’s resolution will be to organise my work more effectively and not keep slipping back into bad habits… Other than this, I am looking forward to conferences, courses, networking meetings and other opportunities to meet up with my fellow SBMs, who never fail to inspire, motivate and make me laugh!


News and views {BIG ASK}

Elizabeth BartWilliams, school business manager

2021 started as a year of hope, following the ‘lost years of 2019 and 2020’, only to end with a huge cloud of uncertainty looming once again over the entire world. In their book The Power of Bad, J Tierney and R. F. Baumeister suggest that our brains are wired to focus on the bad. This has been highlighted in the aftermath of the pandemic, and schools are having to redress the sad and deep psychological/mental scars of COVID-19. We need both curricular and pastoral skills to do this. In 2022 I look forward to a more pivotal role in identifying the skills gap across the school and sourcing appropriate CPD so that the school is one big base of interchangeable skills. If we are to fulfil our roles as educators, schools need to develop a bank of T-shaped skills set, where members of staff have deep knowledge/skills in one area and a broad base of general supporting knowledge/skills. This is even more important in view of increasing costs and reducing budgets. As suggested by P Drucker (1991), we need to change ‘deeply ingrained behaviours and values’, by ‘changing recognitions and rewards’.

Stay strong, remain positive, be kind and keep on smiling

Nigel Milligan, IT technician manager

My number one hope for 2022 is that we can be kept safe from COVID-19. The booster programme will help immensely, and ensure that many of us can carry on with our lives and keep others safe too. Lockdown proved to us all that the use of technology that’s been available for many years has been invaluable in enabling everyone to continue working, and to be able to keep in touch with friends and family. I’ve been passionate for years about utilising technology to reduce workload and unnecessary paperwork; my resolution for 2022 and beyond is to continue promoting the many ways in which we can work smarter using technology. I currently work with many schools to support them with this vision and development to help make a difference. My mission is to empower schools and give them the confidence to change the way things have always been done. In March 2022 I am looking forward to attending the BETT show in London. This will be a great opportunity to catch up with so many amazing people, some of whom I’ve not seen since 2020, just before the pandemic started. Stay strong, remain positive, be kind and keep on smiling.

January 2022

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Leadership by example {REFECTIONS ON THE ROLE}

Developing SBL dragon scales HUSHAM KHAN, SBL and author, reflects on his SBL journey and how he went from surviving on a diet of baked beans to overcoming multiple adversities and publishing his very own Amazon top 100 selling book

M

y career as an SBL has not been conventional by any means and you could even say it has been ‘free-spirited’. As a BAME SBL, it has been tough, I will not lie; I’ve even had feedback from an interviewer to say that I should change my name. Would I do anything differently? Absolutely not! Tracing back to my parents, both of them had tough upbringings. My dad was a refugee who fled from persecution and my mother spent time in care as a child. These are the life compasses that I use to keep grounded and to steer myself in the right direction. I have been blessed with many experiences and opportunities but, until recently, none of it made sense. I came into education by pure chance and I remember one day, when I was 24 years old, having graduated from university and applied for over 300 jobs, my opening presented itself. I had just purchased my first house, had a mortgage as long as my arm, and was working

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January 2022

full time as a mental health outreach, coaching psychiatric patients in health and fitness. My partner at the time (now my wife) took me into a temping agency and they had a job working in a schools finance division within the council. I took the job knowing that I had to make this work as I was moving from a permanent job to an agency job on far less money (I think I was earning £3 per hour). Every penny I earned went on my bills and I think I lived on baked beans for a year. The job led to a permanent role within a city council for four years as a schools finance officer. It was within this role I found my mojo, learned my trade, and developed the largest training programme the council had ever embarked upon. This programme has been used by all the schools in the local authority which was over 400 - and still runs to this day.

DEVELOP YOUR DRAGON SCALES The next five years saw me become school business manager and finance director at two large secondary schools. During these


Leadership by example {REFECTIONS ON THE ROLE}

We ended up training over 2,000 school leaders, and it put us on the map roles I completed the CSBM and DSBM and sharpened my leadership skills. I was lucky that I had an inspiring headteacher to learn from and great SBL mentors to guide me on the right path. My second job in a secondary school did not go as well and I was bullied in my role for over a year. This had a profound effect on me and I ended up leaving to work in my current post. I think certain experiences shape you and, whilst I would not want anyone to experience what I experienced in that second job, I did develop my dragon scales (resilience) and this has been one of my coping strategies when things get tough. I certainly do not take any nonsense! Since 2009 I have worked for drb Schools and Academies Services as an SBL and have worked in every type of school possible including special schools, all-through schools, teaching/research schools, federations and MATs - as well as mastering five different financial management information systems. I decided early on to specialise in financial management, which was a significant shift from being a generalist. At drb I also headed up the training division for three years, making it the most profitable company within the group. One of my greatest accomplishments was back in 2012 when I developed the pupil premium financial accountability training - the first of its kind. We ended up training over 2,000 school leaders, and it put us on the map. I have twice been a CFO in a MAT and this

spurred me to produce the Executive Leaders Programme for MAT leaders, which brought SBLs and executive headteachers together, under one roof, for the first time in joint training. Producing and developing this training increased and deepened my own knowledge, and I would recommend every SBL undertake this as part of their own development. My greatest challenge came during lockdown, and over the 21 months since March 2020, when both my mental health and resilience have been tested to the maximum. We talk about ‘full circle’ events - but everything which happened to me before lockdown happened for a reason and prepared me for what was to come.

LOCKDOWN STORIES Everybody has a lockdown story but mine was literally rooted in a movie as I experienced a range of emotions. I lost my mother-in -law in August 2020, and she was the core of the family. Shortly after this my daughter developed a condition which has meant that she now has round the clock care. This has changed my outlook completely but I have learnt so much from my daughter - not just about her needs, but about life. How should we be living our lives? Lockdown, for me, was not good but I knew I had to adapt to survive. I changed the way I worked and in doing this came up with new, never seen before, financial concepts which I tested in schools. CPD was non-existent for most of 2020 but instead of waiting for CPD to find me, I went out and developed it. I wrote down every formula and methodology I knew within school financial management, researched different ways of thinking, and created new ways of analysing financial data. The mind journey I embarked upon reminded me of the path Luke

January 2022

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Leadership by example {NETWORKING} {REFECTIONS ON THE ROLE}

Never be afraid to ask, even if you think it looks silly Skywalker travelled during his quest for Jedi wisdom and I remember the words of master Yoda, “You must unlearn what you have learnt.” I started to make a log of all of the financial concepts I used over lockdown and quickly realised that I had enough to write a book. Day turned into night, and night turned into day as I wrote the book on top of my day job. I think I averaged 25 hours of research per week for 80 weeks, which flew past. It was this purpose, as well as supporting my family, friends and colleagues, which kept me level-headed and my mental health on track - but there were many wobbly moments, as well as a breakdown. We are human after all.

BRAIN IN A BOOK In August 2021 I finally published my book, Financial Intelligence for School Business Leaders and, within two weeks, it was in the Amazon top 100 selling books and far exceeded my expectations. I often describe the book as ‘my brain in a book’, and that is what it is. People often ask me what the book will do for them. For me, it probably saved me. For everyone else, it will vastly improve your knowledge, understanding and decision making surrounding your financial data. It does what it says on the tin. Previously, I talked about my family and the challenges we have faced, but I would definitely say that I draw inspiration from my daughters

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as they have taught me more about life in the last two years than I learned in the previous 45. From a professional standing, I have always surrounded myself with people who are far better at their jobs than I am, and that is how I have learnt. I am a firm believer that failure is a good thing, and we learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes. Since June 2020 I have been working with Cheryl Campbell, the CEO of ABBLed; its core aim is to increase diversity within the SBL profession. The whole ABBLed team has not only kept each other going but the SBL community as well. Between us we have produced a range of podcasts for the Laura Williams SBL podcast with the aim of supporting SBLs. My advice is to put yourself out there, and never be afraid to ask even if you think it looks silly. I used to think of my career as an SBL in terms of where I wanted to end up, but the richness of experience, and the currency of time, have taught me that direction is important too. We are on this journey with other travellers and it is key that our knowledge is passed on to others as they will be the next generation who will be guiding our children and grandchildren. I will leave you with one of my favourite quotes from Steve Jobs: “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”



Leadership by example {SUSTAINABILITY}

Preparing for the governments’ sustainability and climate change strategy ROBIN HARRISON,facilities and resources manager at Rushcliffe Spencer Academy, and a fellow of the Institute of School Business Leadership, explores how a realistic school environmental policy, and associated action plan, can make a difference

I

n October 2021 the UK government issued the Net Zero Strategy: Build Back Greener, which indicates that ‘Schools and colleges will play a vital role delivering high-quality education and training to equip young people with the knowledge and skills required for the green economy. This will help to grow the pipeline of skilled workers needed to help deliver the net zero transition’. At the COP26 United Nations Climate Change Conference the government announced that, in April 2022, the Department for

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Education will publish a Sustainability and climate change strategy for the education and children’s services sectors. The strategy will deliver against four strategic aims: ● Excellence in education and skills for the changing world, preparing all young people for a world impacted by climate change through learning and practical experience. ● Net zero - reducing direct and indirect emissions for education and care buildings, driving innovation to meet legislative targets


Leadership by example {SUSTAINABILITY}

and providing opportunities for children and young people to engage practically with the net zero concept. ● Resilience to climate change, adapting to mitigate against the worst impacts of climate change in our education and care buildings and infrastructure. ● A better environment for future generations, enhancing biodiversity and increasing access to nature in and around education and care settings. Whilst many schools are already doing much to support environmental sustainability, few have fully captured and documented what they are doing. Two documents are key to this, and school business leaders are ideally placed to support the process.

Few schools have fully captured and documented what they are doing SCHOOL ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY POLICY This document sets out the key policy positions and explains to staff, pupils and parents the core sustainability beliefs and ethos of the school. Whilst each school has its own unique circumstances, this is the structure deployed at Rushcliffe Spencer Academy: An introduction defines what is meant by environmental sustainability including the following: ● m itigating undesirable impacts on climate, health, biodiversity, environmental quality and resource depletion; ● l egal and statutory compliance (e.g., Control of pollution Act 1974, Climate Change Act 2008, and others); ● m anagement of costs through effective resource management and efficient use of utilities; ● i ncreased organisational resilience - e.g., to floods and adverse weather; ● e merging changes to local and central government policy, eg. tightening planning permission requirements ● m oral imperative – it is simply the right thing to do. This policy is linked to the school’s core values - Rushcliffe Spencer Academy added a new core value – ‘We care for our world’. A definitions section follows – explaining what is meant by phrases such as ‘carbon footprint’ and ‘net zero’.

A responsibilities section then sets out clear roles for all members of the school community, including the head, site team, subject leaders, pupils, eco team leader. This is followed by a policies section which describes what the school policy is in relation to a number of headings, more of which later in this article. Examples under the managing sustainability policy section could include, for example: ● T he school shall work towards being net zero carbon neutral, in accordance with GHP Scope 3 by 2050, in alignment with the government’s ambition for the United Kingdom to be carbon net zero by 2050. ● T he school shall implement an environmental and sustainability action plan. ● T he school shall maintain an eco-team, consisting of staff and pupils, to engage pupils in sustainability issues. ● T he school will work towards retaining Eco School Green Flag status. ● T he school will embed the teaching of environmental sustainability issues across the curriculum. ● T he school will communicate its progress towards environmental sustainability to staff, pupils, parents and carers, and to the wider local community. The school has specific policies under headings relating to school buildings and grounds, biodiversity, energy use, global citizenship, healthy living, waste and litter management, transport and travel, water and marine and purchasing; these align strongly with the strands considered by eco-schools. There are also sections for policy review and signatures.

The school has specific policies under headings

ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY ACTION PLAN This document is a living. working tool constantly evolving and constantly updated as progress is made. Do take every opportunity to publicise successes along the way – it will encourage others to make further progress. Every school will be on a different stage on the sustainability journey, and it will be practically impossible to get everything right straight away. The important thing is to

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Leadership by example {SUSTAINABILITY}

As with any journey, it is useful to understand the starting point concentrate effort on the easy wins, and give yourself recognition for the things that are already being done well and are embedded into the way the school operates, whilst identifying achievable smart targets to work on for the coming year. As with any journey, it is useful to understand the starting point. The Rushcliffe Spencer Academy Environmental Sustainability Action Plan starts with a section on historic utilities performance data, chosen to mirror the data provided under the government’s Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) methodology. The next section is a summary of priorities to be targeted in the current academic year. These are lifted from the more detailed action plan headings that follow, and help to focus action on achievable, smart objectives. Examples from the Rushcliffe Spencer Academy priorities for 2021/22 include: ● M anagement – establish our carbon baseline based on 2020/21 financial data. ● B uilding and grounds – create a woodland area to improve biodiversity. ● E nergy – complete the conversion of lighting to LED. ● W aste and litter – eliminate single use plastic drinks bottles by alternative purchasing and promotion of refillable bottles. ● P urchasing – all photocopy paper to be either recycled stock or from Forestry Stewardship Council certified sources. The action plan itself follows. It is recognised that the journey towards improved environmental sustainability is a continuously evolving one, and that it is not always possible to move forwards on all strands all the time, or at the same pace. What can be achieved will depend on a wide variety of resources including, but not limited to, staff and pupil availability, access to funding, and the range and variety of external opportunities that become available. Action plan strands address themes relating to sustainability. Rushcliffe Spencer Academy identified nine areas, each to have their own action plan. Managing sustainability Ensuring that the school has the ethos, policies, procedures and skills to ensure that sustainability issues are managed in an effective manner. This helps to ensure that sustainability issues are

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embedded within the culture. School buildings and grounds, including biodiversity Biodiversity refers to the variety of plant and animal life in the world, or in a particular habitat; having a high level of biodoversity is considered to be important and desirable. The school site and grounds provide a visually attractive environment inhabited by wildlife and plants and, potentially, provides an important environmental teaching resource. Energy use Energy use needs to be efficiently managed to avoid excessive fuel use, while maintaining appropriate and safe heating and lighting levels. Over time it is considered desirable to reduce, so far as reasonably practical, the school’s dependence on carbon-intensive fossil fuels, subject to available funding for decarbonisation strategies. Global citizenship A global citizen is someone who is aware of, and understands, the wider world – and their place in it. They take an active role in their community and work with others to make our planet more peaceful, sustainable and fairer. Global citizenship is all about encouraging young people to develop the knowledge, skills and values they need to engage with the world, and about the belief that everyone can make a difference. Education for global citizenship is a framework for learning, reaching beyond school to the wider community. It can be promoted in class through the existing curriculum or through new initiatives and activities. Global citizenship is also about recognising that the lifestyles led, and the resources consumed, are often dependent upon the products and services of worldwide communities. Health living Healthy living refers to the choices that individuals make regarding how they live their lives in a way that promotes and supports good health, physical fitness and emotional wellbeing. Catering and dietary choices can also impact upon the Academy’s carbon footprint. Schools can support staff and pupils to make informed decisions regarding diet, exercise, and social habits and behaviours. Waste and litter management How waste is managed can have a considerable environmental impact.


Leadership by example {SUSTAINABILITY}

Litter and Waste Management: What are we doing well? Item/ Issue

What is the evidence?

What needs to When? happen next?

e.g. Battery recycling

Battery recycling Continue point located in school Reception

Who By? Completed? Date

Ongoing Reception Team

Ongoing

What could we do better? e.g. Reduce quantity of litter dropped by pupils

Occasional excessive litter on school fields and catering areas after food service times

Pupil behaviour education assemblies

Spring term

Year Leaders

What have we not started to consider? e.g. Chewing gum

Chewing gum appears on hard landscaped surfaces and on classroom furniture

Publicise Ongoing Form chewing gum Tutors ban; enforce within behaviour management protocols

Water and marine The quality of the marine environment can be affected by what resources schools use that are derived from the marine environment - for example, fish used in catering. The marine environment can also be affected by materials discharged into waste and into water courses by the school. Rainwater that falls on the school site discharges into local streams, then into the local rivers and, eventually, into the sea. Plastic waste derived on the school site can, over time, break down into microplastic particles which can also find their way into water courses and then out to sea. Marine microplastics are now understood to be a significant source of pollution and have a harmful effect on sea life and on the subsequent food chain. Reducing the amount of mains water that the school consumes reduces the demand for upstream water processing and transmission, and downstream foul water processing, as well as reducing mains water supply costs. Transport and travel Sustainable transportation is the capacity to support the mobility needs of a society in a manner that is the least damaging to the environment which does not impair the mobility needs of future generations. The use of fossil fuelled vehicles is a major contributor to CO2 and particulate emissions, impacting on air quality and on health. Decarbonising

transportation aims to reduce, mitigate - and even eliminate - carbon emissions by adapting transportation infrastructures, conveyances and operations. Purchasing Procurement of goods, materials and services used by schools can account for around 40% of a school’s carbon footprint. Sustainable purchasing is also about minimising the negative social environmental and economic impacts of our purchasing decisions. The structure of the action plan format below allows themes and actions to be identified for future action. Progress over time, captured by periodic policy review, will allow themes and actions to progress through the stages until they become embedded. It is helpful to link each action plan strand to a named leadership team member link. This supports effective oversight and links to the overall School Improvement Plan and Estates Management Plan. It takes time to develop the action plan from a blank format to a meaningful document, but the outcome is well worth the time investment. Make time to review the plan regularly, and update it whenever a challenge is completed, or a new idea emerges. Target some quick wins – it is important for the school community to see progress.

About the author Robin Harrison is a long-standing member of Association of Business Leaders in Education – ABLE. https://ablepro.info. ABLE is a network supporting school business managers, office managers, administrators, CFOs, bursars and any relevant senior support professionals in primary, secondary, special schools, academies and MATs in the East Midlands.

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Leadership by example {WORKING SBM}

Looking forward to 2022 The WORKING SBM reflects on a difficult year and discusses her hopes and resolutions for 2022

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always think school business managers (SBMs) benefit from two ‘New Year’ starts with one in September and one in January. Arguably, you get three if you work in a maintained school with an additional start in April. I love a clean-slate start, putting the past behind me and starting afresh, starting a new white page in a notebook leaving a blank page in the middle as an acknowledgement of the much-needed break. This Christmas, more than at any other time in all my years as an SBM, I needed the break and, unusually for me, I took the whole holiday off work. I don’t think anyone would disagree with me, 2021 was tough. We’ve been challenged by the pandemic itself of course, but we have also experienced significant changes in our industry, in the delivery of education and assessment, in staffing, as colleagues have moved on to new opportunities, and in recruiting their replacements.

THE RISKS OF ‘LEAN’ The inevitable support staff vacancies appearing between old and new post holders presents risks in business operations. In our endeavour to keep our staffing lean we have to accept that an outgoing member of staff, even with handover, creates a gap while a newbie is recruited, trained, or brought up to speed. It often falls to the SBM to pick up tasks to maintain support functions. That’s why we joke we are a ‘jack of all trades’. I’m not pretending

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Leadership by example {WORKING SBM}

I’m excited to put the past year behind us for a minute that I can effortlessly do the job of my colleagues, but I do try to take responsibility for knowing the basics so that I can cover in the event of sickness or staffing changes. So, this year after I’ve filled some vital support role vacancies, I’d like to bring the focus back onto my own role with plans for 2022 to include: ● I nviting tenders for contracts which have become due. ● U pdating policies so they apply to this changed world. ● A ssessing structures, thinking about the increased need for pastoral support. ● C onsidering strategies to ensure our technology meets the demands of remote learning. ● G etting more involved in growth strategies that have had to go on hold while we’ve managed 2021!

LET’S PUT IT BEHIND US I won’t deny that I’m excited to put the past year behind us. As we processed our whole student body this week with lateral flow tests in a third ‘return’ session, a colleague reminded me that it had been exactly one year since we had met to plan the first test event, which eventually took place at the beginning of March. It feels like the whole of last year had one focus – COVID-19. I’d like to do something else at work now, please. I don’t believe we’ll ever go back to all our pre-pandemic education routines, but I want to move forward and I’m optimistic for a new future. I want to take the changes, challenges, and opportunities into the decade ahead, recognising what we have learned by permanently adopting some of the new best practice in the delivery of teaching and learning, as well as acknowledging the importance of a school community to the wellbeing of everybody.

FINDING WORK-LIFE BALANCE After the challenges of last year, I’m determined to improve my work-life balance in 2022 and support my colleagues in doing the same. The

pandemic has shown us the importance of a work and school community to good mental health and wellbeing. We might not always rub along perfectly, but I know I’m not alone in having missed everyone during periods of lockdown and the feeling of relief at being able to re-establish those connections with my colleagues when we returned into school. My work-life balance improvement plans include: ● T aking a lunch break (I am terrible for eating on the go). ● G etting more steps in (preferably not while eating my lunch). ● L eaving work as near to ‘on time’ as I can (small steps). ● K eeping weekends work free for family time. As with all New Year resolutions, they are easy to declare but difficult to maintain, especially in these times of continued uncertainty. More importantly, I want to make sure my colleagues also go back to good habits this year and I need to keep reminding myself that the best way to do this is by setting an example.

A CUP HALF FULL We all know that a good SBM is positive and optimistic by nature. It could be seen as a requirement of the role in order to successfully navigate all the conflicting demands placed upon us. I also think that an SBM needs to be good at holding their nerve, and we’ve done a lot of that over the last 12 months. One thing I know I’d like to let go of in the coming year is that gnawing feeling of something being just around the corner to disrupt our lives again. What are your resolutions for the New Year? I hope this is going to be a year of change which brings opportunities, new possibilities, new colleagues and friendships, a better worklife balance and fulfilment for us all. Bring it on 2022!

WorkingSBM has worked as an SBM for over 14 years – ‘supporting constant change and running the engine room!’ An active member of the SBM community, you can find her on Twitter @workingsbm or you can read her excellent blog at https://workingsbm.wordpress.com

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MANAGEMENT {FINANCE AND FUNDING}

Shaving off the pounds January is, typically, a time when we look to shave off some extra pounds of Christmas weight - but STEPHEN MITCHELL, CEO Keystone Knowledge, has ideas on how you can also shave off the pounds to keep your budget looking healthy

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e’re all recovering from the festive season, and we all know what that means. After indulging in mince pies, mulled wine, cheese and the other few thousand extra calories, we have all likely put on a few extra pounds that need shifting in the new year! That perennial diet never gets any easier, does it? Nor does balancing the school budgets. It seems that, every year, we have to do the impossible and shave off a few (thousand)

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pounds whilst inflation, and what we want to provide for children, inevitably pushes budgets in the opposite direction. So, how can we keep the budgets looking healthy? Let’s take a look at a few quick tips.

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HAVE AN EYE FOR DETAIL

You can’t survive in this job if you don’t know your onions…or at least your key financial results. Cash is king and you need to be on top of what is happening with yours. Make sure your accounts are up-to-date,


MANAGEMENT {FINANCE AND FUNDING}

Testing the market is not a sign of distrust accurate and well-circulated. Share them around, talk to your SLT and other staff but do so in a way that is relevant to them which brings me on to…

2

MAKE YOUR ACCOUNTS RELEVANT AND EASY TO UNDERSTAND

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USE ICFP AND USE IT CORRECTLY

The majority of our colleagues do not spend the day working with numbers, but we do need them to understand the financial implications of what they are doing, just as SBLs need to know how their job impacts on outcomes for children. Make your finances clear and relevant to those you want to know about the numbers. Give them a narrative, graphs or whatever else it takes to help them understand. That way, there’s a fighting chance of budgets being better managed.

When implemented badly, ICFP can be a catastrophe. If you go boldly ahead, work out your metrics and then declare that spending needs to be cut in the areas that are in the red zone, you may be missing the point and, at best, will alienate people and be pigeonholed as the ‘person who doesn’t understand teaching because they do the finance’. Please, please, please don’t be one of those people. ICFP metrics only give you one thing, and that’s questions to ask. They can point you in the right direction to ask why something is the way it is, and that way lies enlightenment - a story about how your school has got to where it is, and clues to what the next steps should be. It could be that you need to be highly staffed because of the level of need in a particular class; it may be that your energy bills are high because your building is poor, or it could be an indicator that it’s time to review your energy supplier.

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REVIEW YOUR CONTRACTS

It is easy for contracts to roll over and for us to be happy when there is a seemingly good relationship with a supplier - but how good is that relationship really if they could offer you a better price and haven’t been doing so? Testing the market is not a

sign of distrust, it’s making sure that we’re getting value for money to ultimately benefit our children. Whilst I’m on this point, please consider the ethical behaviour of suppliers. There are many that give away free gifts to SBLs; bottles of gin, hampers and lots of personal treats that are clearly designed to change the way you think about them and their company. Please consider how others - parents, your boss, the ESFA - would view the acceptance of these gifts and whether they make it more likely that you will buy from that supplier in the future.

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USE FRAMEWORKS

Frameworks may not be suitable for everyone, all of the time, but they do provide a great starting point to access tendered pricing without the need to complete a full tender yourself. However, be warned that you can often get better prices or bespoke services suited to your needs by carrying out your own tender or procurement exercise; paying to use a specialist to broker a large tender for you can result in you saving tens of thousands of pounds.

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COLLABORATE

One of the great things about education leaders is that we are generally happy to share. Work with colleagues in local schools to procure collaboratively; we all need similar things, and you may reduce your unit price by buying together.

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ASK WHY

We often budget by taking last year’s budget and adding or taking off a few percent. There is something incredibly liberating and powerful in starting with a blank sheet of paper and asking what you need to deliver the curriculum you want.

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CONSIDER ALTERNATIVES

You don’t need to buy a new class-set of laptops out of cash. It is possible to lease them over a three-year period, which reduces your annual cashflow and allows you to do more with the remainder. Look for different solutions. The above are just a few ideas as to how we can shave off the pounds, ensure we are achieving best value for money, and help our budgets to look healthier, I hope they have provided some food for thought. On that note, I’m off to the staff room to hunt down some biscuits…

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MANAGEMENT {BEING A LEADER}

: e l p o e p , s g d n r i o d w a y l e L s on o s It’ more t u b STEPHEN PEACH, assistant headteacher and business manager, Dacorum Education Support Centre, discusses the power that words hold and how you can make sure you’re using your words wisely

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e often make light of situations by trying to diminish the power of words. We use expressions like, ‘Actions speak louder than words’, or ‘Talk is cheap’ or, better yet, ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’. When things get really bad, we comment, ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me’. Except we all

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know that’s rubbish. The effects of a badly chosen sentence can take a lot longer to recover from than physical injuries. We know that words have amazing power – the power to hurt or heal. Think of the difference between people’s reactions when told the words, ‘You’re hired’ or ‘You’re fired’. There may only be a single letter that’s different between those two sentences, but the people’s reaction to each could not be more opposite.

We know the power of words that have hurt us, and we’ve all seen the power of our own words that hurt others. Someone has said that words are like eggs dropped from a great height – you can’t get them back and you can’t avoid the mess they make. If you think about things that have been said to you over the years, you’ll see what I mean. There’s a world of difference between ‘I love you’ and ‘It’s over’ and the effect of either can last a lifetime.


MANAGEMENT {BEING A LEADER}

Teachers spend a lot of time thinking about the words they use to students; in my school we even go so far as to have agreed scripts that we use in given situations to maintain consistency among all staff (‘That’s not appropriate language, thank you.’) So why is it that staff - and, in my experience, senior staff in particular - frequently seem to leave their brains at the door when talking to colleagues? It’s almost as if they decide that all their training and experience is not relevant when talking to adults so they say the root of what’s in their heads without ever considering the effect it will have on others. Some of the time, I suspect it’s because they are working at such a pace that they don’t stop to consider the consequences of their words; they just need to impart some information in the shortest time possible before moving on to the next item on their to-do lists. Frequently, however, this approach can leave a trail of needless devastation in its wake which takes time to repair. As leaders and managers we need to be aware that the intent of our words can vary wildly from the impact they have; despite our best intentions, we can’t predict the impact our words will have on others. We all receive information through our own personal filters, prior experiences that act as lenses, influencing our present-day responses. (All of this is detailed in Transactional Analysis (Eric Berne) and the PAC model (parent/ adult/ child states of communication). Which leads us to the question; how do we guide our words to create the impact we want?

BUILDING BRIDGES You may have seen, or been trained in, ‘Insights’, the different personality types of people (red, blue, green and

yellow) and the associated focus on communication. Developed by Carl Jung, it provides a helpful framework for communicating, not only for categorising different personalities, and behaviours, but also suggests potential responses to build effective bridges between personality types. Insights works best when you work out your own natural communication colour and then that of people around you so you can adapt your own style to match that of the person you are communicating with. Simplified further, all behaviour is a spectrum between ‘foreign exchange traders’ and ‘conspiracy theorists’ with a variable of passion thrown in. (If you’re a foreign exchange trader or conspiracy theorist, please just hear me out!) At one end of the spectrum, some people will only trust numbers and are deeply sceptical of interpretations that may skew their meaning – typified by foreign exchange traders. They see numbers as unarguable facts that avoid human interpretation which are the only certainty that can be trusted. Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum are the conspiracy theorists, people who will only ever trust their feelings and are deeply sceptical of anyone who uses numbers. How do you communicate with people at any stage on this spectrum? You can’t fight feelings with numbers, and you can’t fight numbers with feelings and, if you’re not careful, you end up fighting fire with fire! You have to find a way to wrap your message in language that the person you are talking to will resonate with and relate to. Do you have a member of staff who doesn’t get subtle hints? What do you do? Tell it to them straight, removing all vagueness and ambiguity from the words you use. Using this reasoning

This approach can leave a trail of needless devastation in its wake you can work out that, if someone is numbers-based, demonstrating where their numbers might give misleading information, and trying to provide alternative numbers, might be more successful. If you work out that someone is more feelings-orientated, don’t go anywhere near numbers or you’ll put them off. Are you the kind of business manager/ leader who prefers to use sticks as opposed to carrots to motivate people? How do you think this makes your team feel? How often do you say ‘Well done’? What would the effect be on your team if you did? Or do you mistake niceness for kindness? Being ‘nice’ is about pleasing other people, which is often not possible as a manager. Kindness, however, involves caring about people, delivering difficult information with empathy and interest in a way that emphasises the significance of the conversation to the other person. When was the last time you said, ‘Thank you’ to the people you oversee? If the answer to that is, ‘Not recently’, I would encourage you to do it today and watch the reaction you get. People appreciate it when their efforts are noticed – even the ones who normally rely on numbers! Invoking these kinds of feelings is precisely what we strive for when interacting with children, but so often we forget that adults (merely older versions of children, don’t forget) have the same needs as young people, to function and perform at their best. 

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ICT matters {SECURITY}

Protecting your equipement Theft from schools continues to be a problem with laptops, interactive whiteboards, PCs and audio equipment all targeted by thieves. So, what can you do to enhance the protection of school equipment?

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ue to the increase in scams and data breaches that have occured since the pandemic the focus, when it comes to protecting your IT equipment, has shifted to cyber security. Whilst this is important, it is still just as vital to ensure the physical security of school equipment. Many schools have independent, isolated or temporary buildings, plus multiple entrances, poor fencing and public access out of hours all of which leaves equipment vulnerable to being stolen. IT equipment is not a cheap investment, so it‘s imperative you invest in its protection to ensure longevity and value for money. So, what can you do to keep your IT devices safe and secure?

PHYSICAL SECURITY Physical security is your first line of defence; preventing direct access from unwanted individuals is the first step to protecting school equipment. Therefore, you should ensure that valuable equipment is kept in a safe place that’s guarded against unauthorised access. Where possible, these areas of the school should also have enhanced physical security requirements.

KEEPING AN INVENTORY Property marking and inventory-taking are further important measures for preventing physical loss. Property markings should be

on all major hardware items - desktop base units, monitors, notebook computers, printers, scanners, projectors, removable storage devices and so forth. However you choose to keep it, a log for recording and maintaining your IT equipment inventory list is essential. Your log should record the location, as well as the status, of all equipment, indicating whether it’s ‘in use’, ‘on loan’, ‘under repair’ - or possibly ‘discarded’. If any parts are missing, or there seem to be any discrepancies, you should investigate immediately.

Property markings should be on all major hardware items A CULTURE OF SECURITY Keeping your devices safe is about more than simply security, though. It lets your pupils and staff know that you value the school’s technology as an essential resource something you want to protect not just because of its monetary value, but its educational value too. When all the staff and pupils understand the value of the equipment they are more likely to take extra steps and precautions to keep it safe - and will be less likely to make it vulnerable by forgetting to lock doors or leaving it accidentally discarded.

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ICT matters {TECHNO GEEK}

Techno Geek

What edtech trends can we expect in 2022? GARY HENDERSON, ANME ambassador and director of IT at Millfield School, gets out his crystal ball to predict some of the edtech trends we are likely to see this year

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always enjoy looking forward to what the future in technology in schools might hold; however, I am currently finding it a bit more difficult than normal. During the pandemic the use of technology in schools took dramatic leaps forward; suddenly there was a wide scale need to make use of video technology, to use learning platforms and online apps, to require devices for all - or at least as many as possible students and teaching staff. With this great leap forward, the future possibly looks a little more uncertain but, despite this, I will try to do some crystal ball gazing.

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January 2022

SHORT TO MEDIUM TERM So, let’s start with my short-to-medium term predictions - the ones I think we can be more certain will actually come to pass.

MORE 1:1 DEVICES The last two years have shown us the power of technology and, in particular, mobile devices - combined with internet access and online platforms - in enabling learning when face-toface teaching is not possible, or outside the normal hours of traditional schooling. As such, more and more schools are likely to look towards how they can provide, support and/or encourage


ICT Matters {TECHNO GEEK}

We will also see greater use of machine learning devices for use by students. I think the main challenge here is to avoid focusing too much on the short term - on purchasing devices now; any procurement of devices, or any plan to support or encourage students to have their own devices, needs to be sustainable and include the relevant plans to replace and update such devices as part of a planned cycle, enabling schools to be more prepared for the longer term.

PRODUCTIVITY SUITES AND OTHER ONLINE PLATFORMS I think the current tendency in schools to gather round a limited number of productivity suites and platforms is likely to continue; Google Workspaces for Education (formerly G-Suite for Education) and Microsoft Office 365 are likely to lead the way in this area. However, I suspect platforms such as Showbie will also continue to see increasing usage, while other platforms are likely to experience reductions in numbers as schools gather around a more select few platforms.

VIDEO The importance of video has been highlighted by the pandemic, including use in real time events, lessons delivered online, and for providing content and resources that can be viewed by students at any time, supporting the flipped

classroom. I suspect we will, therefore, see continuing and increasing use of video content, both centrally created and also created by teachers and schools. For me, the critical issue here will be avoiding the creation of new resources by teachers, adding significantly to workload, plus the need to avoid teachers in different schools basically reinventing the wheel by each creating the same content rather than sharing and spreading the load.

LONGER-TERM It is always more difficult to predict with any reliability the longer term; however, let me give it a go and provide you with some of my thoughts.

DATA, ANALYTICS AND BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE Schools have, for a long time, been generating increasing amounts of data; however, I don’t think we have seen a corresponding increase in usable information which can be acted upon. I suspect we will start to see greater use of tools such as PowerBi or Tableau to allow data to be easily visualised and analysed. Linked to this we will also see greater use of machine learning to identify patterns and anomalies in data which can lead to more frequent and agile datadriven decision-making. The challenge will be

January 2022

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ICT matters {TECHNO GEEK}

in managing the highly unstructured nature of school data, and in training machine learning solutions such that they can draw sensible conclusions from the data being fed in.

NATURAL LANGUAGE PROCESSING/AVATARS Linked to the above, and the ability and need to analyse data, I think there will be increasing development of solutions to provide just-intime support and advice for students. We have already seen some development in this area from Bolton College, in their FirstPass solution. Such developments will be all about providing immediate support and advice to students in much the same way as a teacher does when working 1:1 with a student. This will involve machine learning, once again, and will probably require significant amounts of training data in order to develop solutions which are attuned to learning, to students and to schools. Support provided to students might relate to writing assignments, seeking support, welfare, school administrative issues and an increasing range of other school activities.

VR The widespread discussion of ‘the Metaverse’ makes me believe I need to include virtual reality (VR) as one of my predictions. I have already experimented a little with VR and there is clear potential in relation to tasks which are

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One of they keywords I have been using with my IT Services team is ‘entropy’ dangerous, impossible or just logistically difficult to achieve in real life. There is also a significant potential in relation to collaboration and creativity with new virtual spaces where the rules of the real world need not apply. For me, the success of the Metaverse - or of the Metaverses, as is more likely - will be in supporting enough different vendors and functionalities within a single platform; whether this happens is yet to be seen. As the prices of VR equipment reduces it is likely we’ll see increasing use in schools. One of the keywords I have been using recently with my IT Services team is ‘entropy’. I use the word in relation to how systems tend towards increasing disorder, and our need to accept this. The last two years have shown this with - and I hesitate to say it – ‘unprecedented’ disorder being the order of the day. I doubt this will change; therefore, it is difficult to predict technology in schools in 2022 although I suspect my three short-to-medium term projections are reasonably sure bets. As to my longer-term predictions, I suspect these will be beyond the scope of 2022 - but it never hurts to have an eye on the horizon.


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ICT matters {NEWS}

Switched on The latest news and views from the world of ICT and edtech

Parents told they may face police action as teachers targeted on TikTok As reported by the Guardian, teachers are being targeted by abusive and humiliating TikTok accounts set up by students, prompting a warning from schools that parents may face police action over offending posts. Officials at the Department for Education have said they are engaging with the social media giant after headteachers complained of dozens of cases of teachers being targeted. The Association of School and College Leaders, which represents most secondary school heads, said it had received mounting complaints from its members. A spokesperson for the DfE said it was never acceptable for teachers or other staff to be harassed or intimidated using social media. “We are engaging with TikTok on the steps being taken by them to address this issue involving teachers. We are clear that social media companies need to take action against harmful content on their platforms and we are introducing laws which will usher in a new era of accountability for these social media companies.”

University of Dundee encourages young girls’ interest in STEM Women are considered to be underrepresented in STEM - science, technology, engineering, and mathematics - fields, making up only a small percentage of the overall UK STEM workforce. The University of Dundee, working with local business Empowerment Academy, are looking to change this narrative. Staff at the university’s School of Science and Engineering invited the group of pupils from Victoria Park Primary School on campus for four consecutive Mondays, meeting female role models in the engineering industry and completing fun activities in each slot. During the first visit the

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primary six girls were introduced to civil engineering and shown how to mix colourful concrete, and create and decorate their own moulds. “We’ve been really excited to host the girls from Victoria Park Primary School,” said Dr Margi Vilnay, lecturer within the School of Science and Engineering. “Collaborations like this are the way forward. We’re showing them that engineering is creative and fun, and that it’s also all around us. To get these enthusiastic young girls involved in engineering at this young age is just fantastic. It’s so important for society.”

@WellbeingEduca1: An afternoon listening to some Y9 ‘TED talks’ on the theme of ‘The Story of my Life’. Powerful messages, including not listening to your doubting voice, being happy, getting enough sleep and trusting yourself and other people. #wellbeing #comfortzones


ICT matters {NEWS}

New framework developed to boost digital wellbeing in schools As reported by Digital Schools Award, a ground-breaking education initiative, devised to support cyber resilience and internet safety in schools, has been revised to incorporate a greater focus on digital wellbeing. The Digital Wellbeing Award, which builds on the Cyber Resilience and Internet safety (CR-IS) Badge - launched by the Digital Schools Award scheme in 2019 - aims to provide young people with the skills and confidence required to navigate the digital world. Digital wellbeing involves understanding and mitigating the impact of using digital technology on children and young people’s social and emotional

wellbeing. Cyber resilience is a key ambition of the Scottish government’s Strategic Framework for a Cyber Resilient Scotland, published in February 2021. The new framework acknowledges the increasing amount of time that children spend online and the risks they face as a result. It is also a response to the proliferation of remote learning during the pandemic, with schools facing increasing demands to include digital wellbeing as part of their wider pastoral care. This framework has gathered national and European perspectives and distilled them into a whole-school road map for

promoting students’ digital wellbeing through strong cyber resilience and internet safety practices. Crucially, this includes establishing processes that will enable young people to secure, manage and protect their own wellbeing. As previously with CR-IS, the initiative will be offered as a stand-alone badge by Digital Schools Awards Scotland, which was established in 2016 in partnership with Education Scotland, the Scottish Government Child Protection Unit, Police Scotland and printer company HP, to bring together government bodies and businesses to support the teaching of digital skills in schools.

Shropshire college connects with schools across the UK during online awards ceremony A Shropshire college has welcomed an opportunity to be introduced to schools across the UK as a result of an online ceremony, the Shropshire Star has reported. Following its achievement of Microsoft Showcase School status for 2021-22, Concord College was invited to a prestigious Showcase Plaque Awards ceremony online. The Acton Burnell-based college received its Microsoft Showcase plaque ahead of the one-hour virtual awards ceremony so that it could be on display in the college for students, staff, parents, alumni and visitors to see. The event consisted of a ‘virtual photo op’ to show off the plaque and introduce

Concord to other institutions. “The event was a good opportunity to introduce Concord to other showcase schools across the UK,” said Dr Richard Beard, head of Concord chemistry and IT teaching and learning lead. “We were able to tell them more about us, who we are, what we do, how we achieve it and, of course, to learn from them as well. After talking to others, I think we have realised the level we are now operating at. It’s been a three year journey to get to where we are with our edtech – and I think the breadth of what we can do and achieve now as a school is amazing.”

@ColletteR: On the way back from a petting zoo with Y4 (first trip I’d ever organised as an NQT). Bit of a fuss at the back of the bus. One of them had decided to steal a duck and had one in his backpack. Had to drive back to return it.

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ICT matters {DATA MANAGEMENT}

Identity and access management With every new product or tech service there is a potential security issue. What are the risks, and what should schools do to provide a secure environment? ANDREW BLENCH, SBM consultant at School Business Partner, explores

A

ll schools will use a range of software and hardware which relies upon the storage and retrieval of personal data, including data about children and adults working in schools, ranging from a school management information system to payroll and catering systems.

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There are many risks which can occur when using these systems; this includes the risk that the wrong people access this data and use it for financial gain or criminal purposes. There is also a clear safeguarding risk to personal data falling into the wrong hands – for example, some of our most vulnerable children rely upon their personal data and location being kept from


ICT matters {DATA MANAGEMENT}

those who should not have access to them. All children should be educated in an environment where every step possible has been taken to securely store and manage their personal data; if this should fall into the wrong hands it could be used for grooming purposes and the exploitation of vulnerable young people.

IDENTITY FRAUD IS A VERY REAL AND GROWING AREA OF RISK Identity fraud is the use by one person of another person’s personal information, without authorisation, to commit a crime or to deceive or defraud that other person or a third person. Most identity fraud is committed in the context of financial advantage, such as accessing a victim’s credit card, bank or loan accounts. There were 190,000 cases of identity fraud reported in 2018 and groups particularly targeted were the over 60s and under 21-yearolds - see Fraudscape 2019 - Fraudscape 2019 | Identity Fraud Insights | Cifas The best measures to keep personal data secure involve a mixture of physical and logical controls. This is about restricting access to a physical location where data is stored - such as a server room or CCTV hard drive - but there should also be robust passwords which are refreshed and changed on a regular basis. In one school I worked in the CCTV hard drive was located in the site manager’s office, which, in theory, was always locked or occupied. However, the CCTV hard drive was linked to a non-networked PC which could be accessed without a password! So, it had physical controls, but no logical controls. We all, quite rightly, rely upon the school’s ICT infrastructure to secure data through the use of web filtering, spam and anti-virus software installed on devices. The danger with this is that it may blind us to some of the non-technical weaknesses in how we operate in schools. We assume that the greatest risks are that electronic data will be stolen or hacked, and it is right to be aware of this risk and mitigate it; but there can be as much risk in non-electronic ways of working. So, for example, do you have a clear desk

Most identity fraud is committed in the context of financial advantage policy? Are printed papers with financial or personal details left on desks? Do you have printed displays of students or staff photographs with names in communal areas? In the age of high-resolution smart ‘phone cameras these are easily copied.

EXTERNALLY PROVIDED SERVICES When you’re using externally provided services you need to understand what data is being collected, and why, and where it is being stored. Any externally provided service which relies upon the secure storage of personal data in order to operate must be covered by a data sharing agreement. This agreement should state what data is shared, and for what purpose, how it is stored and what security measures are in place to keep it safe; see Data sharing agreements | ICO Schools should keep the amount of personal data they collect, store and share to a minimum, and regularly question why they hold the data. A good litmus test is to ask ‘How often do I access this data, and what would happen if we didn’t have it?’ This is called the data minimisation principle. In my previous school our admin staff created a weekly report showing the names of students who had mobile devices confiscated from them and this report was sent to a nominated governor. This was wrong on a number of levels. It turned out that the governor concerned never acknowledged the report or asked any questions. It was also an example of governors being far too operational and was a potential breach of confidentiality and GDPR. What happens in your setting which you could challenge using the data minimisation principle?

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Live it

LIVE IT Time to take a few moments out for some light and interesting reading – a well-earned break from numbers and statistics!

Let us know your funny caption ideas by tweeting us @edexec

LIFE HACK Here’s a simple way of keeping your gardening implements rustfree. Fill some old pots or buckets up with sand and stick the tools in, handles up. It keeps them dry and stops rust from setting in. 38

January 2022

A mouse deer measuring just 20cm (eight inches) tall has become the third of its kind to be born at Bristol Zoo Gardens in the past decade, BBC News has reported. Otis was born weighing just 430g (0.43kg). Its keepers said its birth would help to improve dwindling mouse deer numbers. They said the Malayan mouse deer resembled Disney’s Bambi character and was developing into a “confident and healthy” specimen. “For the first few weeks his mother kept him hidden and he remained quite stationary in the undergrowth,” said the zoo’s team leader of small mammals, Al Toyne. “But now he is moving around a lot on his own. He is quite active and confident and has started eating solids.”

Pub quiz 1. In which European country would you find the Rijksmuseum? 2. How many films have Al Pacino and Robert De Niro appeared in together? 3. What was the old name for a Snickers bar before it changed in 1990? 4. Who was the head of state in Japan during the second world war? 5. What is the smallest planet in our solar system? Answers: 1. Netherlands 2. Four (The Godfather Part 2, Heat, Righteous Kill, The Irishman) 3. Marathon 4. Emperor Hirohito 5. Mercury

Caption competition

IS IT A MOUSE? IS IT A DEER? NO, IT’S A MOUSE DEER!


Live it

Thumbs up!

Ain’t no mountain high enough

A runner who climbed 189 mountains in a month said he felt “incredible” after he raised almost £10,000 for charity, BBC News has reported. Will Renwick completed his run at Conwy Castle, after clocking up at least 24 miles a day over a month. The challenge he set himself was to run up every mountain peak over 2,000ft (600m) in Wales. He said the 500 mile route was fuelled by instant mash, noodles and chocolate and, despite the lows, the money raised for charity made “every mile worth it”. Will, from Llancarfan in the Vale of Glamorgan, initially set out to raise £2,000 for charity Mind Over Mountains, but has raised almost £10,000.

Well, knock me down with a feather!

HELLO, IS IT ME YOU’RE LOOKING FOR?

Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does. William James

DID YOU KNOW? You can hear a blue whale’s heartbeat from more than two miles away. The world’s largest animal’s heart weighs over 180kg — approximately the size of a small piano.

Sky News has reported that a Turkish man who was reported missing unknowingly joined search parties looking for himself. Local media reported that Beyhan Mutlu, who lives in the Inegöl district of northwest Turkey’s Bursa province, was believed to be missing on Tuesday. He had wandered away from his friends in a forest while drunk, according to the Daily Sabah website. His wife and friends reported him missing after they were unable to get in touch with him for several hours. Mutlu, 50, later joined a group in the area who were helping the authorities search for him. When members of the search party began calling out his name, he replied: “I am here.”

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Live it {CPD}

How to stop ‘firefighting’ and feel more in control

I

VAL ANDREW has some advice to help you combat those negative thoughts and take more care of yourself

read, with great concern, the contributions on social media by many SBL professionals who are at the end of their tethers. This is validated by conversations I have weekly with a range of different SBL practitioners. It’s undoubtedly been a very challenging two years for all school leaders, juggling a raft of issues on top of the impact of the pandemic; that said, I can’t remember a time when there have been so many people in education who are just exhausted and overwhelmed. There is a greater focus right now on

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mental health and well-being and rightly so – but the extent to which our school leaders are being affected is worrying. I don’t need to list the challenges you are all facing and, without being too political, there are huge issues that are a direct result of the policy to ‘starve’ the sector of the resources it needs to operate effectively. This needs to be addressed with urgency, and we have to put our trust in the organisations that have direct contact with ministers to lobby for this. When faced with crisis situations we knuckle down to sort things out – this is

what all school leaders are trained to do, and do very effectively – including school business leaders. We focus on the here and now, and deal with what urgently needs to be done professionally, often neglecting our own needs. However, you don’t have to feel overwhelmed forever! I’ve read a lot of self-help books and focused on guidance about how to be brilliant in the job, which I know you all are, so I don’t want to do this here. I’d like to use this piece to encourage you all to refocus on what is important – i.e., YOU! No-one ever lays on their

death bed and wished they’d spent more time at work! I know we work in education because we want to contribute to the education of our next generation and, although it’s never going to make us millionaires, it also pays the bills. That said, if it’s making you ill then something has to change!

FACT 1 – when things are tough, attitudes tend to be overtly negative. This negativity - which pervades the community within which we work - can drag us down and add to an already stressed mindset. I used to liken it to


Live it {CPD}

working amongst a group of Harry Potter ‘dementors’– you know the characters – they say things like: “Oh yes, we tried that before, it’ll never work.” “Nobody has a clue, especially SLT.” “These meetings are just a waste of time.” “Isn’t this weather awful?” If you let them, they will suck the lifeblood out of you – they thrive on depriving your mind of positivity and intelligence. Whilst it’s tempting to go along with their negative vibes, perhaps make a conscious effort to blast them with positivity! Using the statements above – you could respond along these lines… “Oh yes, we tried that before, it’ll never work.” What do you think would work then? “Nobody has a clue, especially SLT.” Come along and speak to SLT and share some of your concerns. “These meetings are just a waste of time.” We’re changing the format – the next meetings will be time-limited and you can contribute to the agenda so we can discuss the issues important to you. “Isn’t this weather awful?” The forecast is good for tomorrow though! Turning negativity around with positive responses can help defeat those ‘mood hoovers’ (Art of Being Brilliant – Andy Cope and Andy Whittaker) - but that’s just the tip of the iceberg; if you are in a dark place then it is time for introspection and some readjustments to your life.

FACT 2 – prolonged exposure to a stressful

Restoring the balance and concentrating on the stuff that energises you could be a revelation situation is going to damage your health, and this can lead to longer term medical issues unless you do something about it. That natural ‘flight or fight’ response that kicks in brings some positive results in the short term, but it’s not sustainable. I like the philosophy of Dr Rangan Chatterjee, especially his books The Stress Solution and The 4 Pillar Plan (not on commission for flagging these!) Both books provide helpful suggestions and practical ways you can examine the impact of your current lifestyle and reset some aspects to improve mindset, health and purpose. We all need to STOP and reflect on what actually energises us and what drains us. Restoring the balance and concentrating on the stuff that energises you could be a revelation. A quote attributed to many different individuals seems entirely relevant in this context: “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” Ultimately, you may arrive at a point where more drastic measures are necessary – as SBLs we are great at solving problems and overcoming obstacles which provides a sense of accomplishment, but it’s much harder to turn this around and focus on yourself. My last piece for EdExec looked at a range of suggestions to help you all get back to doing the job you love, and that remains pertinent here. In addition to that I’d urge you to: ● b e kinder to yourselves, and

acknowledge what you have achieved rather than focus on what you’ve not managed to do; look for some quick wins to lighten your load; t alk to someone – communicate with your own colleagues; admitting you are exhausted and overwhelmed doesn’t have the stigma it used to. Consider a personal coach or mentor; l imit your focus to what is within your scope of influence; a bandon the guilt – and don’t wait. If there are things you want to do – go for it!

Val Andrew

Programme manager for Best Practice Network DSBM Level 4 - find out more: https://www. bestpracticenet.co.uk/ dsbm-l4 Patron of ISBL. Formerly ASCL School Business Leadership Specialist (2010 - 2018). Recipient of ISBL CEO Award for exceptional contributions to school business leadership in 2018. Semi - retired SBL and very proud grandma.

FACT 3 – we are losing many experienced practitioners from the profession as a result of the current environment. The recruitment crisis is not restricted to teachers; it includes a much broader group of school leaders. There has been some positive rhetoric from government about education, but whether this will translate into reality remains to be seen. I said earlier that we have to place our trust in those organisations which have the opportunity to influence national policy. I am old enough, cynical enough, and grumpy enough to know that systems and processes come around in 10-year cycles, so we should surely be due a good spell soon?? Finally, trying to end on a positive note, it’s important that we don’t forget that there is a whole new generation

of potential school business leaders emerging and we have a responsibility to ensure that working environments, and working patterns, are appropriate enough to support them. Don’t’ forget that signposting relevant training to help them develop their skills could also lead to greater opportunities for delegation. I spotted this on social media which I think says it all…

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Live it {60 SECONDS}

60 seconds with ALLY BIGWOOD, chief operating officer at Churchill Academy and Sixth Form, tells us about a terrifying skydive and taking his inspiration from a certain character from The Office What led to your current role? I have been working in education settings since 2002 and as a school business manager within schools since 2013 - firstly, in a two-form entry primary school, and then at an all through nursery to secondary school. So, I guess I wanted to get the match ball and complete the set by getting sixth form experience as well! The reality is that my latest role was the next step progression careerwise for me. I’m enjoying working in the COO role and leading on several projects.

Tell me something unusual or interesting about yourself.

Ally Bigwood, chief operating officer at Churchill Academy and Sixth Form

I did a sky dive around seven years ago. I was relatively new to a school and, as you do, you say ‘Yes’ to everything in the first few weeks. Somehow, I said ‘Yes’ to a skydive. I’m petrified of flying and not a massive fan of heights. Usually when people do a skydive they say they ‘Can’t wait to go again’ or ‘Get me back up there!’ Not me one of the most horrendous experiences of my life! Never again thank you.

What has been your favourite aspect of working as a school business professional so far? Working closely with such a varied group of nonteaching staff is an area I enjoy. I like the challenge of bringing them together to feel part of a whole school team, and ensuring that their role is valued by others. I also get pleasure in knowing that my team and I play a part - often behind the scenes - in making sure students have the best possible experience at school.

What’s been your greatest professional achievement to date? Successfully completing the Level 7 CIPFA diploma in school financial and operational leadership. I studied this in 2019-20, so the pandemic arrived part way through, just to make things more interesting. Completing this whilst work was, at times, the busiest it could have been, was an achievement.

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How do you ensure that you continue to grow personally and professionally? Professionally, I use social media - particularly Twitter - for a fair amount for ideas, trends, local and national topics. I read books about the sector and attend regular training courses, online or in person. Personally, a young family keeps me on my toes and ensures I am always learning new things.

Where do you take inspiration from, both work and life-wise? My parents are key for me. Both are very different in their approach to life but I pick the elements I admire from both. They inspire me to challenge myself to be the best at what I do, and give me confidence in what I am doing, while also remaining grounded and treating everyone with respect. Workwise, I naturally look to headteachers and former bosses for inspiration. Equally, I can find inspiration in many different work colleagues, regardless of seniority or position, just through having conversations with them about school and their personal lives. Oh, and David Brent is an inspiration too!

What three words would you use to describe your role? Challenging, rewarding, privileged.

Funniest SBM moment you’d care to share? I’ve had a few, mainly because I’m a firm believer of enjoying wok as much as I can. Of course, there are frustrating times, and ultimately, we spend long periods of time in school and we should try and enjoy those times as much as possible. A governor meeting stands out. I’d been joined by other members of staff for a meeting and we were sitting on the same table. Midway through a sentence a governor gave out an extremely loud burp and carried speaking with zero acknowledgment. My table lost it and was doing everything possible not to let out a huge laugh… looking at the floor, biting lips even leaving the room. My colleague had to present shortly after and just about managed to hold it together. 


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GET YOUR DIARIES OUT!

We’re back with dates for our 2022 events! We know an SBL’s diary is always jam-packed, so make sure you note down the dates now, so you don’t miss out on a fantastic day of CPD tailor-made for the SBL. Look out for more updates over the coming weeks and months about what you can expect from the day including speakers, exhibitors and how to claim free tickets!

Manchester- 5th May 2022 London- 9th June 2022

SAVE THE DATE!

MANCHESTER - 5TH MAY 2022 LONDON - 9TH JUNE 2022 email hello@edexeclive.co.uk to reserve your place Learn more at edexeclive.co.uk