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Digital wrap edition



ng u i t a e p m n beco ing more

su sta in


H el




o rge




Val Andrew reflects on the last 18 months

Leeds East Academy on winning School of the Year

What it is, who can apply, and how to apply

The nights are drawing in, the leaves are starting to brown, and the temperature is dropping… Autumn is officially here! What better excuse is there than the changing of the seasons to spend your evenings wrapped up in a blanket, drinking a hot chocolate. Now, I know you’re SBLs who don’t know the definition of putting your feet up due to your get-up-and-go attitudes and never-ending to-do lists but, trust me, if there was ever a time to allow yourself to enjoy a cosy night in, and indulge in some me-time, it is now! Speaking of wellbeing, we start this issue looking at how nurses in schools could aid pupil mental health and why it is time to shift mindsets regarding SEN pupils. As we all know, communication is key and we have two experts in the field tell us how to improve it in two different areas. Simon Hepburn explores new ways of marketing your school, and Stephen Peach discusses how you can avoid miscommunication with your colleagues. Sustainability will be one of the biggest issues schools will be looking to address in the coming years; we speak to Leeds East Academy who already have it at the forefront of their agenda, and Helen Burge gives us her tips on the changes you can make in your school now to help tackle climate change. Val Andrew reflects on what we’ve learned from the last 18 months and how lessons learnt can inform what schools do, going forward. We also have practical advice on how to recruit teachers from overseas and guides on the Condition Improvement Fund and the EdTech Demonstrator Programme. As always, 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 or tweet @edexec with ideas, opinions or success stories.


Editor’s comment 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

SIMON HEPBURN Founder Marketing Advice for Schools

VAL ANDREW Programme manager Best Practice Network

HELEN BURGE COO The Priory Learning Trust



STEPHEN PEACH Assistant headteacher and business manager Dacorum Education Support Centre

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@



Education Executive is published by Intelligent Media Solutions

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Contents NEWS & VIEWS


NEWS Latest school business management news in brief


HOW NURSES IN SCHOOLS COULD AID PUPIL MENTAL HEALTH The Royal College of Nursing calls for every school to have a nurse


SHIFTING THE WAY WE THINK ABOUT SEN PUPILS Considering the skills that SEN can give students







STRIVING FOR SUSTAINABLE SUCCESS Leeds East Academy on winning School of the Year


HOW TO RECRUIT TEACHERS FROM OVERSEAS Employing teachers who aren’t UK or Irish nationals





“I JUST WANT TO GET BACK TO DOING THE JOB I LOVE AGAIN” Val Andrew reflects on the last 18 months


KEEPING AN EYE OUT FOR THE RIGHT PAPER Paper to help take care tof the eye





HEATING UP Helen Burge on becoming more sustainable


WHAT IS THE CONDITION IMPROVEMENT FUND? What it is, who can apply and how to apply

@EdExec Design



WHAT IS THE EDTECH DEMONSTRATOR PROGRAMME? What is it and which schools are taking part?


60 SECONFS WITH Meliss Singer, business manager, Salwood Academy

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.

Graphic designer Amanda Lancaster


Editor Ellie Potter




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!


Vicki Baloch

News and views {NEWS}


The latest news and views from the world of education

Isle of Man schools to monitor air quality data for pupils New air quality monitors have been installed in Manx classrooms in a bid to make sure students can concentrate properly, the government is trialling the technology across the island’s schools. Joel Smith from the Department of Education, Sport and Culture said poor air quality can have a significant impact on a pupils’ ability to study. Each of the devices monitors levels of CO2, heat, humidity and light. Smith said: “They will provide vital data, enabling us to effectively review existing environments within schools and inform the planning stages of any education infrastructure in the future.” Data from the monitors will also be used to make sure classrooms are well ventilated to stop the spread of COVID-19.

@DOpsSBL: We had our first central team meeting of our new trust today! I’m feeling very excited and motivated for all the positive new experiences this will bring for our students and staff! #sbl #sbltwitter #studentsfirst


October 2021

@rookie_som: @ lauraljbusiness I’ve recently started a new post and have discovered your podcasts- amazing stuff! It’s like you and your contributors have read my mind (particularly the advice when you’ve had no handover!). Can’t wait to work my way through the rest. Thank you!!!!

School leaders warn of lack of funding In a letter to the government, school leaders say at least £5.8bn is needed to avert “serious long-term damage”. And the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) says by next year, spending per pupil will still be about one to two per cent lower in real terms than in 2009-10. The government says it has invested billions of pounds to support pupils. The letter, sent by the heads of leading academy chains and head teachers, says children are months behind academically and facing mental-health crises. Education secretary Gavin Williamson told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he was looking at what more could be done to boost the attainment of children. “I’m working with the chancellor and the prime minister, because we all have an absolute priority in terms of delivering for our children,” he said.

News and views {NEWS}

News in brief

Bedfordshire parents protest over special school places gap Some 52 pairs of shoes have been placed outside council offices to highlight the number of children parents say are being denied places at special schools. Protestors said Central Bedfordshire Council was not supporting children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). One parent, Becci Liggitt, said the lack of a place for her 13-year-old daughter had led to self-harm. The authority said it was spending £6.5m on improving the situation. In November 2019, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission criticised SEND services in the unitary council district. The inspectors said in a letter to the council and the Beds NHS Clinical Commissioning Group that “leaders are not meeting their duties”. Liggitt said mainstream schools would not take her daughter and the council had been unable to give her a special school place. The 52 pupils were confirmed as still needing special school places after a legal deadline passed in February. The majority will stay in mainstream school for now, with some will be able to move to special schools at Easter, others for the next academic year, but 11 do not have any place confirmed for 2022.

Affordable uniforms law misses new school year A new law aimed at making school uniforms cheaper in England missed being put in place in time for the start of this school year. Headteachers are waiting for the new statutory guidance on uniforms, which will make schools place affordability at the centre of their uniform policy. According to The Children’s Society, the average uniform costs £315 per primary school pupil and £337 per secondary pupil. Mike Amesbury, the Labour MP who first introduced the legislation, said he would be “incredibly disappointed” if any further delays to the guidance meant that the changes weren’t fully in force for the start of the next academic year, beginning in September 2022. He added that hundreds of thousands of children, parents and campaigners would be equally upset. It is expected that the rules will limit the number of logos on uniforms, allowing parents to buy more items from supermarkets and shops other than a school’s main supplier.

Special needs support beyond crisis, heads say Support for pupils who have special needs is “beyond crisis” in England and “sucking money from budgets” for all children, a report says. Nearly all schools (97%) responding to a survey by a head teachers’ union said they received insufficient funding to support pupils who had special needs. The National Association of Head Teachers says funding has to rise so all pupils can be supported to learn. The government said its review of the system aimed to improve things. Funding for higher-level needs was rising 9.6% in 2022-23 and the Department for Education was providing £42m to projects for pupils who had special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). But the NAHT report, based on a survey of 1,500 head teachers, suggests nearly a third of schools have cut services in the past year. And the starkest findings relate to funding for education for pupils who have SEND.

@SBMRachel: I have loved being a part of #sbltwitter and #sblconnect network. Shout out to @sbl365 who made #sblconnect and connected us virtually with tea breaks. We have all benefited from the knowledge and comradery. Long may it continue! #SBMLove

October 2021


News and views {NEWS REPORT}

How nurses in schools could aid pupil mental health The leader of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is calling for every school to have its own, full-time, nurse to help spot illness, injury and the growing toll of mental illness among pupils


he move to put nurses in schools would let schools play a much bigger role in meeting pupils’ physical and mental health needs, and aid their recovery from the impact of COVID, said Dame Donna Kinnair. Kinnair, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, believes giving all schools a dedicated nurse would also help tackle childhood obesity. “Every school should have a school nurse because they are a vital part of the education of children and young people,” she said.


October 2021

“With one-in-six children and young people experiencing mental health issues, the role of the school nurse has never been more important in assisting them. We also know issues such as obesity and diabetes are increasing; investing in school nurses can go a long way to reducing the impact of these issues, which can have lifelong consequences.” Kinnair has made the call in a manifesto of ideas to improve health in the UK produced by the College of Medicine. The group of health professionals want to ‘redefine medicine beyond

News and views {NEWS REPORT}

COVID’s impact on children’s mental health and wellbeing has underlined the need for dedicated school nurses pills and procedures’ and use both conventional and non-conventional ways of treating illness, for example, thorough ‘social prescribing’, which involves advising patients to take part in social and recreational activities such as walking, dancing and gardening to tackle depression and loneliness, instead of taking antidepressants. The group includes Sir Sam Everington, a GP who is highly-admired for improving the health of poor and multi-ethnic communities in the East End of London, and Michael Dixon, a family doctor in Devon, former chair of the NHS Alliance and health adviser to Prince Charles. ‘The College of Medicine believes physical, mental and social health needs to be the focus of all schools,’ they write. ‘This can only be done with a full-time nurse in every school, and on every governing board.’

NUMBERS HAVE FALLEN There is currently only about one nurse for every 10 of England’s 21,000 state schools, so nurses generally work in a number of schools. NHS figures show that the number of school nurses in England fell from 2,962 in 2009 to just 2,060 last year – a drop of 30%. Teaching unions backed Kinnair’s call. “We very much support the idea of a school nurse in every school,” said Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College

Leaders. It would represent “a step change in how we support children’s health,” he added. “Currently, school nurses generally look after several schools, conducting visits and drop-in sessions. It would be fantastic if every school had its own nurse because it would mean that each school was able to always draw on the expertise of a trained health professional.” While COVID’s impact on children’s mental health and wellbeing has underlined the need for dedicated school nurses, the government would have to fund the significant expansion involved and there would be recruitment challenges to overcome, Barton added. Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said a decade of Whitehall-driven austerity had limited schools’ resources. “Many will have, reluctantly, had to lose valuable members of their team - nurses included,” he said. “NAHT research has shown that 84% of school leaders agreed that schools should have a single member of staff with relevant knowledge and expertise to act as the school lead for mental health. We urgently need the government to provide vital additional resources to make this possible in all schools.” CREDIT: This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared on The Guardian mar/20/nurses-in-all-uk-schools-would-help-childmental-health-toll

October 2021



Shifting the way we think about SEN pupils Daniel Sobel asks what would happen if we shifted our mindset and attitudes – from thinking about SEN barriers to considering the strengths and skills that SEN can give students


n my recent article on The state of SEN (Sobel, 2021), I laid out how many of the big ticket issues were well captured in the 2019 education select committee report into SEND. This report highlighted a number of significant failures, all of which are common knowledge for most of us working in schools. In this article, I would like to suggest an idea that could radically shift the way we ‘do’ SEN and, hopefully, budge us out of the quagmire in which we find ourselves.


October 2021

AN EDUCATIONAL PLACEBO It took me three attempts to pass my GCSE maths; I had undiagnosed ADHD and had become used to thinking of myself as incapable. Despite not passing A-levels, or getting a degree, I managed to wangle my way on to a master’s in education psychology and subsequently managed to undertake post-grads in education and psychology and even a PhD. Something weird happened when I did the compulsory module of statistical research and analysis during the edpsych MA – I did fairly well.


If we boost self-esteem this will lead to better outcomes I asked the lecturer, a former maths teacher, what level he considered the maths to be and he said “Approximately first-year degree level, definitely harder than A-level.” So how do you square these two facts? Well, there are probably a range of factors, not least the type and context of the maths, but the one key difference which resonates with me is this; at school I had shockingly low self-esteem and, since then, I had built up a strong sense of selfbelief. The very fact that I thought I could do it significantly contributed to me achieving it - a sort of ‘educational placebo’. I have encountered many such stories demonstrating this phenomenon and it is self-evident for many people I speak with, despite the fact that there is not much research evidence to back it up. In fact, I would guess that 99.9% of people who work in SEN, and a majority of teachers, would recognise selfesteem as a reasonable and important factor. So, what if we swung the whole SEN system in the direction of ‘self-esteem boosting’? Would it influence outcomes? Would it change anything in the SEN quagmire?

REFRAMING SEN SEN causes low self-esteem (bear with me) and, therefore, if we boost self-esteem this will lead to better outcomes for children with SEN. Here is a way of boosting outcomes. We need to reframe what SEN actually implies about success vs limitation. At the moment, SEN is a medicalised diagnosis that essentially carries a psychological message of ‘You are limited’. I wouldn’t argue with medical colleagues; I want simply to add to this formula and suggest that it also means you may have advantages over your neuro-and-cognitivetypical friends. Here are some examples. DYSLEXIA: this has been linked to higher visuospatial ability and creativity. There is evidence that dyslexics are over-represented among entrepreneurs and art students. There is a suggestion that the coping strategies which dyslexics adopt, such as delegation, may be beneficial for entrepreneurs (Martinelli et al, 2018). AUTISM: noted cognitive strengths in autism include enhanced visual and auditory perception of certain stimuli, hypothesised to

be involved in the ‘savant’ abilities observed in some. Some autistic people also have noted strengths in systematising and attention to detail; these give rise to ‘special areas of interest’, where autistic people frequently develop exceptional knowledge, and autistic children display exceptional vocabulary. There is evidence that unexpected cognitive strengths can be found in autistic children typically labelled ‘low-functioning’, such as the non-verbal (Mottron et al, 2006; Baron-Cohen et al, 2009; Courchesne et al, 2015). ADHD: there is a variety of research (for example, Lerner et al, 2017; Wiklund et al, 2016) that finds a positive association between ADHD and both entrepreneurial intention and entrepreneurial action. This suggests that there are real benefits to ADHD when it comes to risk-taking and adventurousness. I relate to my own ADHD as a superpower (slightly overdoing it I’ll admit). I can brain-cope with far more than most, hyper-focus and learn complex material at quick speeds. There are advantages, and the advantages are great – but only if you know what they are, how to access them, and how mitigate the challenges.

THE STRENGTHS OF SEN The good news is that, compared with 25 years ago, every teacher in the country knows what the major SEN types are, and their common terms and basic presentations. This is a massive achievement, and we can be proud at being ahead of the curve internationally. The bad news, as I have said previously, is that these terms can distract us from thinking of the student as an individual. ‘Ben is ASD’ makes it almost impossible to see Ben as an individual child. The ugly news is that I bet hardly any teachers, children, or parents can tell you some of the obvious wonderful strengths that can be found in the varying types of SEN. Can you imagine what every child with SEN might feel if their teachers saw them as not only having a ‘lack’, but also a ‘strength’’? The attitudes our teachers have towards our children are the vehicle for conveying belief in them. We can assume that if our teacher’s view of our children increases in aspiration and positivity, then our children’s self-concept and esteem will, in turn, rise. CREDIT: This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared on Headteacher Update

October 2021


News and views {MARKETING}

School communication rises to the COVID challenge in 2021 – but what will the future bring? SIMON HEPBURN, of Marketing Advice for Schools, discusses the new ways of marketing your school and how you can get on board with the trends


chools have always needed to communicate well with parents and their wider communities, but the need to do this has increased significantly in recent years with the rise of new channels which allow much more opportunity for two-way communication. These changes have been tracked through a series of surveys carried out by Marketing Advice for Schools and a number of partner organisations since 2015. The latest survey* took place in June and July 2021 and showed the impact of the COVID pandemic – as well as the challenges facing schools in the future!

SCHOOL MARKETING COMES OF AGE The first overall theme was that school marketing has ‘come of age’ in response to the challenges of COVID, income generation and student recruitment. Marketing budgets have risen by 50% in five years, and this has been accompanied by innovative use of video, social media and other digital communication tools. For example, 81% of schools had introduced virtual tours, 39% had used drone footage and 35% had live-streamed video in the past year. These changes have made significant demands on schools and marketing and communication budgets have risen significantly; independent schools now spend around £75,000 per year (excluding salaries) - a rise from around £40,000 in 2016 - while state schools average £16,000, up from around £10,000 in 2016. The largest component of this


October 2021

News and views {MARKETING}

spending for both types of school is the school website – the essential ‘front door’ in the digital age! As well as spending more, schools have had to learn new skills. The biggest skills areas in demand are social media management and marketing strategy, both cited by 73% of schools, followed by website development at 50%. Unsurprisingly, given the focus on remote marketing, videography has seen the largest rise over the past three years, with 40% of schools looking to develop their skills in this area – and a huge increase in the state sector, rising from 14% to 36%.

NO NO TO TIK TOK? Looking at social media, schools have become more flexible in selecting the right platform for their audience – Instagram, used by students and younger parents, is now used by 64% of schools while Twitter use has dropped from 90% to 79% over the past three years; a majority of schools are using LinkedIn to connect with alumni or local businesses. Facebook is now the most popular platform, used by 86% of those surveyed. Despite its popularity among students, only four per cent of schools are now using TikTok – it will be interesting to see if this increases or follows the path of the last ‘trendy’ platform Snapchat, which has never been used by more than four per cent of schools in any survey!

Schools have become more flexible in selecting the right platform FUTURE CHALLENGES Looking to the future, schools are anticipating a wide range of communication challenges in 2022. Over half of multi-academy trusts surveyed are looking to add more schools and 55% are creating communication plans to bring new stakeholders on board in order to do this. They are using a range of messages as part of this strategy – 90% are sharing their vision and values, 59% their support for school improvement and 52% the benefits of working for them. For 53% of private and 41% of state schools, the biggest challenge they face is filling all places in the school, while recruiting teachers and income generation are the biggest issue for 14% of all schools. To manage these challenges, 64% of schools are set to increase their spending on their websites, 53% on social media management and 52% on digital advertising. By contrast only 10% are going to increase spending on printed advertising and five per cent are cutting spending in all areas of marketing and communication. Interestingly, 33% are looking to spend more time connecting with former students – something that could help with a range of challenges, including income generation. One interesting issue for the future is how schools will run external events such as parent and student open days. Given the ongoing threat from COVID, only 30% of schools are looking to run all events ‘face-to-face’ while 76% will keep both virtual and face-to-face events.

WEBSITE ACCESSIBILITY ISSUES One challenge facing school websites is to meet accessibility standards – both in terms of legislation and to ensure that all stakeholders can access information. Worryingly, only 42% of schools surveyed were sure that their school’s website was accessible, and only 37% felt that it met the UK government’s accessibility standards (https://www. Those schools operating internationally should also check they meet the specifications of other countries. *The survey of 82 schools and colleges was carried out by Glove Consulting, Concept4 and Marketing Advice for Schools in June and July 2021. For a copy of the full survey visit https://www.

October 2021


News and views {SPONSORED}


ESFA mentoring programme: effective peer-to-peer support As part of the ongoing strategy for developing schools’ capability for effective financial and resource management, the ESFA is running a pilot offering identified school and academy CFOs a unique and cost-free opportunity to further develop their skills and knowledge via a one-to-one mentoring programme


SBL has won the contract to deliver this CFO mentoring programme and we have already commenced the recruitment and training of mentors - the first cohort of mentoring relationships commences this month. The next cohort of mentees will be matched with their mentors in December 2021 with their relationships starting in January 2022.

THE ROLE OF THE MENTOR All mentors are being selected for the programme based on their experience as chief finance officers, mentoring skills and prior experience of developing colleagues. All selected mentors will be remunerated for their participation in this pilot programme and be contracted directly by ISBL. The mentor-mentee relationship will take place over a maximum of six months, with a set of goals for the mentee to achieve agreed and set out in an action


October 2021

plan with clear measurables identified. In addition to defined development areas the mentor should be prepared to support, guide and advise the mentee on other aspects of the CFO role should the mentee request this during the duration of their relationship. After working with a mentor, the mentee should be effective in the management of the trust’s finances and should be able to competently carry out tasks around budget planning, monitoring, reporting and in the area of wider resource management. The mentee will be confident in developing and implementing strategies to resource and deliver the trust’s objectives whilst achieving value for money across all areas of spend.

BECOMING A MENTOR There is still time to apply to be a mentor. We are looking to recruit a further 15

We are looking to recruit a further 15 colleagues colleagues to join the programme and benefit from the training and development that will be made available to mentors, monthly, throughout the 12-month pilot programme. If you feel that you have the skills, time and interest to join the programme and provide development support to an existing, new or aspiring CFO colleague, access the application here and apply today. If you would like to find out more before you do then you access our FAQs, or email us with your questions to This is a sponsored article published on behalf of ISBL.

Dare to be different

News and views {SPONSORED}


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October 2021


Leadership by example {CASE STUDY}

We speak to SARAH CARRIE, prinicipal at Leeds East Academy, and SARAH STEELE, maths teacher, senior house leader and student events co-ordinator, about winning School of the Year at the UK Parliament Awards, and how they’ve acheived sustainable success in their academy So, tell us a little bit about your school. SC: Leeds East Academy is a fantastic school. It serves the community of Seacroft; our student population is incredibly diverse, vibrant, multicultural and really inclusive and it’s on a real journey at the minute. We’ve done a lot of work around setting a new vision - a really aspirational vision for the academy, which is centred around the principle of everyone being exceptional, and focused on the organisational culture and the climate which enables our young people to flourish despite, maybe, some of the challenges they might be faced with. We’re part of an amazing trust, as well, which has a strong moral purpose and is values–driven; the values set at the top of the organisation absolutely permeate and filter through every element of the organisation. So, we’re very child-focused, very staff-focused, and all about


October 2021

developing the whole person - not just academic potential but also the ability to be citizens who make a great contribution to society and use their ability to influence positively. Why is sustainability so important for your school? SS: Over the four years I’ve been here we’ve developed a social action project - it’s about developing young leaders to be the next generation and to be confident leaders - but we also need to educate these young people about the climate emergency, so they’re aware of what they need to do to look after the planet. It’s really important that as a trust, and also as an academy, we are leading by example. SC: I really want to encourage our students to understand how their behaviours and their choices can impact the environment. We want to develop young people who have a social

Leadership by example {CASE STUDY}

Young, relatable voices are often the ones that are heard conscience, and who use their influence to make positive changes. This has a wider remit, and reaches out beyond the academy walls, into the community, and bring about change. You won ‘School of the Year’ at the UK Parliament Awards. Tell us a bit more about that. SS: We were absolutely over the moon. I remember Sarah telling me and I was in absolute shock; it’s absolutely brilliant. The student department have worked towards that for the past three years, and it’s gone from strength-tostrength. They’ve won Regional Championships twice and they’ve won two Queen Commonwealth Trust Funds - so they’ve made a massive impact. I’ve recently been given the role of the Global Schools Advocate as well so, with that and relating it all to sustainable goals, I think that we are really shining in the community at the moment. I think this was a project that meant so much to all of us in school, and the passion of the pupils shone through. SC: The same students have been involved at every stage of the journey, so I think winning this award shows their commitment and dedication that they’re actually in it for the long haul. They know, and understand, that it is significant in the current context, and that young, relatable voices are often the ones that are heard by a wider, broader audience. It was an absolute landmark achievement, and nobody could be prouder. It’s really good as well for them to be recognised by the local MP, for him to come and acknowledge their work, and understand the dedication that these young people show. To have it recognised was incredible, absolutely incredible. What strategies do you use to engage the community with your initiatives? SS: When the student department get together, they do something called ‘Making Your Mark’ where they identify the topics they’re really

October 2021


Leadership by example {CASE STUDY}

Make the reason why you are focusing on sustainability explicitly clear to everybody passionate about. Take the plastic project, for instance; they’ll talk about what they want to do and then they’ll think, ‘Well, what are we going to do to achieve that?’ So, for instance, at the moment they’re developing a zero-waste sustainable shop. We’ve got a partnership with a sustainable shop which the students reached out to. We’ve also got a community centre which we work with, and they work with the elderly in the community too; the funding that’s raised from the sustainable shop is actually buying warm items of clothing for the elderly. They’ve been connecting with Leeds Council as well because they’ve been doing some things


October 2021

about the climate change in Leeds. We’ve got a fantastic relationship with the Climate Hub in Seacroft, which has grown from them giving us seeds, and we’re also going to do a big theatrical performance about the UN goals. It’s really exciting. SC: The students knew what networks they needed to create, and the people that they needed to connect with. They’ve then actively taken responsibility, and reached out to those organisations, gathering and galvanising further support, raising the profile of what it is they intend to achieve. What advice would you give to other schools wanting to move sustainability further up their agenda? SC: Always, always, always focus on the why, and make the reason why you are focusing on sustainability explicitly clear to everybody. This needs to come right from the top of the organisation and filter all the way through. Often, we’re asking people to do things without making it really clear as to why those actions, and those behaviours, are important. So, it’s about being

Leadership by example {CASE STUDY}

absolutely clear about why this is so important, and what the long-term implications are if we don’t make those changes - the long-term effects will be catastrophic if we don’t all start to do our bit. SS: From the student leadership point of view, they do awareness campaigns. They did a #breakfreeplastic all through July; they had a big display up where they had fish with straws up their noses - they had them wrapped in plastics, to shock a little bit. They’ve gone into primary schools and done assemblies there. They’re really keen on raising awareness. In the building we have a big fishing net that is filled with the bottles that we used in a couple of days! The kids were saying things like, ‘Oh, didn’t realise we’d used all that!’ We use a lot of awareness campaigns in school as well. SC: The fishing net is really big and it’s very much a focal point; that has helped the students and staff realise the magnitude of the issue - you can see it, you can visualise it; it becomes very tangible and very relatable. What are your next steps on your sustainability journey? SS: We’re going to carry on with the zero-waste sustainable shop, because pupils are coming in and buying reusable water bottles, etc. I really do want to find the funding for a biodome and, if not, we want to create some kind of outdoor education centre, to get pupils loving the outdoors and understanding why nature is so important - something which I think this generation do seem to miss. We’re going to try and achieve more of a

neutral footprint by encouraging the students and staff to cycle and walk to school if they can and also to try to see if we can fund more clean energies, such as improving our solar panel offer here, and also looking at hydroponics and the wind turbine. We were also thinking about our rewilding area; we want to teach the pupils life skills - how to grow their own vegetables, for instance. Food poverty is a massive issue around here, and if they have those kinds of skills where they can grow some tomatoes, or potatoes, anything like that in their garden, I think that would be massively impactful.

We have a big fishing net that is filled with bottles that we used in a couple of days

COVID quickfire: BIGGEST CHALLENGE: SS: From a sustainable perspective it’s the return of single-use plastic. We did so much work on it then we had to turn the water pipes off and buy water bottles. We also had to use plastic masks and use plastic tests which reverses a lot of the work we had done to get rid of single-use plastic in our school. SC: From a non-sustainable perspective, the challenges of digesting all the information that was

released and making sure that it was distilled in a really understandable manner to our parents and our children, so it could be implemented in a manner that reduced anxiety for people. BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: SS: Winning School of the Year! BIGGEST SURPRISE: SC: Just how amazingly staff, students and parents all pulled together and developed a real community spirit. Everyone came

with the same mentality which was - we need to get through this, so we need to do whatever we can to make sure that, despite the challenges, it becomes a great experience in some way for everyone. BIGGEST LESSON LEARNED: SS: That when it’s tough we all work together so well everyone looked after each other’s wellbeing. As much as I didn’t like lockdown, I kind of did in a way, because I could see

how much everyone came together. SC: Sometimes it’s important to rip up the rule book, take a step back and do things differently. The pandemic forced us to do things very differently, and some of those things have been really beneficial, and I think sometimes you have to ask, ‘Why do we do it like this?’ ‘Because we’ve always done it like this’ is not a good enough answer. So that was the biggest lesson learned, I think.

October 2021


Leadership by example {RECRUITMENT}

How to recruit teachers from overseas A guide to how schools can employ teachers who are not UK or Irish nationals


he UK introduced a pointsbased immigration system on 1 January 2021; this affects how you employ teachers who are not UK or Irish nationals. All overseas nationals arriving in the UK from 1 January 2021, including those from the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland, come under the points-based immigration system. Irish citizens can continue to enter, work and study in the UK under the Common Travel Area, as was previously the case.


October 2021

RECRUIT BY BECOMING A VISA SPONSOR Skilled Worker visa Overseas teachers can apply for a skilled worker visa up to three months before they start work in the UK under the following conditions: ● you, as the employer, are a licensed Home Office employer sponsor and have offered the overseas teacher a teaching job; ● the overseas teacher can speak, read, write and understand English;

the role pays at least £20,480 or the relevant minimum rate for teachers in England, whichever is higher (minimum rates for teachers are on the Get into Teaching website). If the role is parttime, pro rata rates will apply as long as the salary is at least £20,480 a year.

BECOME A LICENSED SPONSOR You need a sponsor licence to hire a teacher from overseas on a Skilled Worker visa. You can be the employing local

Leadership by example {RECRUITMENT}

authority, multi-academy trust or school to hold the sponsor licence. You can become a licensed sponsor by following this step-by-step guidance, which covers further information about being a sponsor, including your responsibilities. You can also check to see if you are already a licensed sponsor.

RECRUIT WITHOUT BECOMING A SPONSOR The graduate visa is available to international students who have successfully completed their degrees in the UK and been sponsored by a Home Office licensed student sponsor; this includes certain postgraduate courses such as initial teacher training at universities. Those on a graduate visa will be able to work, or look for work, in the UK at any skill level without a sponsor for up to two years after completing their studies (three years for PhD students). This includes working as a teacher. Teachers on a graduate visa will be able to apply to switch to another visa route - such as the skilled worker visa without having to leave the UK if they meet the requirements for the other visa route.

YOUTH MOBILITY SCHEME VISA A youth mobility scheme visa lasts for up to two years and is for young people aged 18 to 30 who have certain types of British nationality, or are from certain countries. Teachers can work on this visa without a sponsoring employer. Teachers on a youth mobility scheme visa may be able to apply to switch to

A youth mobility scheme visa lasts for up to two years

another visa route - such as the skilled worker visa - without leaving the UK. They’ll need to meet the requirements for the other visa route.

OTHER VISAS Teachers on other types of visas may also be permitted to work in the UK. You can find out more about family visas and the UK ancestry visa. You can also find out more about the various documents that can be accepted when checking a job applicant’s right to work.

GETTING QUALIFIED TEACHER STATUS (QTS) There are different arrangements for overseas teachers who want to get QTS. ● If the teacher has a degree, but has limited teaching experience, they can train to teach on a course that will give them QTS. There is also guidance on becoming a qualified teacher if they’re not a graduate. ● If they have a degree, and more than two years teaching experience, they can achieve QTS by completing the assessment-only route without doing more training. ● If they are a qualified teacher from the following places, they can get QTS without having to do teacher training or assessment only: ● Australia ● Canada ● the EU ● Gibraltar ● Iceland ● Liechtenstein ● New Zealand ● Northern Ireland ● Norway ● Scotland ● Switzerland ● USA ● Wales. There is more information about QTS and the various routes to QTS for teachers and those with

There are different arrangements for overseas teaches who want to get QTS teaching experience outside the UK. There is also information on how overseas teachers can get into teaching in England.

EMPLOYING OVERSEAS TEACHERS WITHOUT QTS THE FOUR-YEAR RULE Overseas teachers can teach in maintained schools and non-maintained special schools in England without qualified teacher status (QTS) for up to four years; this is called the ‘four-year rule’. It is illegal for overseas teachers to continue working as a teacher in a maintained school or non-maintained special school in England for longer than four years without QTS unless there is another legal basis to teach. The four-year rule applies to overseas teachers who meet all of the following conditions: ● they have qualified as a teacher in a country outside of the UK; ● they have completed a course of teacher training that is recognised by the competent authority of that country; ● they are employed in maintained schools and non-maintained special schools, but not a pupil referral unit.

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO If you are employing an overseas teacher, you should tell them: ● about the four-year rule when you employ them; ● that they need QTS (or another legal basis) to teach longer than four years in some types of school. There is guidance for overseas teachers who want to get QTS at qualified teacher status (QTS).

October 2021


Management {SPONSORED}

Why is courage such an important trait for school business managers? As a well-known school business management and leadership consultant specialising in training and supporting high-quality management and leadership, NICKII MESSER understands the challenges school business managers (SBMs) face and more importantly, the courage and commitment they practice daily


’m often asked to talk to school leaders about courageous conversations. But in reality, most successful school business managers are consistently courageous in everything they do. SBMs are particularly courageous in management, as much as anything else. But what do we mean by management? Simply put, management is the planning, control and organisation of services and resources to achieve an organisation’s goals with optimum effectiveness and efficiency. But an SBM can only make a profound difference to sound financial and resource management when they have the knowledge and courage to be able to implement and consolidate the highquality systems, services, processes and resources their schools deserve.

FACING TECH FEARS HEAD-ON Over the years, I’ve worked with numerous SBMs, and many have felt most exposed by their school Management Information Systems (MIS) whilst feeling confident in the management of finances, HR and premises. Why? The overwhelming reason given was lack of time, whether it be to learn how the MIS works or explore the options of moving to a more reliable system. As a result of this


October 2021

lack of time, many SBMs are unable to make full use of their MIS’ functionality, making it more of a hindrance. That’s where a centralised, cloudbased, next-generation MIS like IRIS Ed:gen can help. Allowing SBMs to embrace automated technology, real-time updates and cloud-based systems, IRIS Ed:gen can help implement effective and efficient management.

TIME TO CELEBRATE COURAGEOUS SUCCESSORS As we’ve addressed with school MIS, when it comes to effective management, the only way to improve is to make changes. Peter Drucker, renowned management expert, advises: “If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old”. To achieve these changes, SBMs need to be courageous in facing the fear of saying goodbye to the old. But they also need to be able to face initial resistance from key stakeholders, which brings me to my final point. SBMs should be celebrated for their courageous management of people above all else. I am yet to meet an SBM who hasn’t experienced people taking up more

The only way to improve is to make changes

of their time than all their other tasks and responsibilities combined. Whether SBMs are leading their teams or integrating with senior leaders and communicating with governors, suppliers and external agencies – managing these critical relationships successfully takes courage, commitment and passion. So ultimately, it’s the successful collaborative practice of SBMs that I celebrate above all else. Nickii is a well-known school business management and leadership consultant, specialising in training and supporting high quality management and leadership. Nickii is a popular speaker at national and international conferences, an author, and a regular contributor to a variety of educational publications. For more information visit This is a sponsored article published on behalf of IRIS.

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“I just want to get back to doing the job I love again” There’s no denying the last 18 months have been a real challenge for us all. As schools returned last month, and committed to recreating normality for pupils, staff and their extended communities, VAL ANDREW believes it’s appropriate to reflect on what we’ve learned from the ‘COVID experience’ and how this can inform our ‘route map’ for the rest of the decade


t this time of the year schools are filled with the noise and chatter of excited pupils, re-energised staff and the smell of new paint and optimism for the new academic year. School business leaders are usually exhausted, having managed another six weeks of refurbishment, redecoration and


October 2021

reorganisation; this year has been especially problematic for premises-related projects as the scarcity of trades’ availability will have pushed deadlines to the limit. Nevertheless, the prospect of a new academic year can be infectious. I recently posed a question on social media to gauge the mindset of our school business leadership community as the

new school year loomed, asking what is their single biggest concern for 2021/2. Responses, as expected, mentioned funding challenges, precarious budgets, managing ongoing COVID issues, catch-up projects, health and welfare of staff and pupils etc. However, I was particularly drawn to one specific comment – quoted in the title of this piece – and this set me thinking.


“I JUST WANT TO GET BACK TO DOING THE JOB I LOVE AGAIN...” We tend to look back at the past and see only the good things – I used to have a ‘rose-tinted spectacle’ slide in lots of my presentations, comparing how the ‘good old days’ measured up to the challenges of the moment. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with having an optimistic view of the past, the danger is we can be unrealistically idealistic. For example, reflecting back on my own practitioner days, without the benefit of those rose-tinted glasses, yes we did seem to have more available funds in the early noughties but, working with a new headteacher at that time - new into headship and hot on the heels of a very successful and well-loved, highly respected predecessor - he was desperate to make his mark on the school. My challenge was keeping him focused on the school’s priorities rather than a portfolio of vanity projects. That’s just one example and I’m sure that, if we reflect on the past without the benefit of those lovely pink frames, we are able to see the challenges and the good bits in equal measure. That comment in response to my question also reminded me that school business leaders are excellent at managing change in our schools but less inclined to apply the concept when it’s more inwardly focused. As part of the DSBM Level 4

programme, at Best Practice Network, we examine the concept of change management in detail as part of the Leading Support Services unit, applying the concepts to live situations we experience in schools. I like the Kübler Ross Change Curve (diagram below) when explaining the emotional responses to any change situation we experience at school. I think it’s especially pertinent now – those of you familiar with the Kübler Ross philosophy will know that, as school business leaders, we are essentially experiencing a range of different emotions in this postCOVID era that is a kind of grief – grieving the loss of our old lives (working and home). Whilst we might normally be able to cope with changes at work this time we’ve had a double whammy experience and that can be much harder to deal with. Arguably, for those of us taking the sustainability issues arising from climate change to heart on top of this – it’s a triple whammy! It’s worth remembering the principles of the change curve and identifying with the emotions at each stage.

SPLITTING THESE STAGES INTO THE THREE PHASES OF CRISIS MANAGEMENT PHASE 1/CRISIS PHASE Includes the shock, denial, frustration and depression stages of the curve. SBLs everywhere will identify with these emotions in relation to the impact that COVID had

from February/March last year. Uncertainty about ongoing changes to working practices or, if your school is changing structure and becoming part of a MAT, or the MAT you are a part of is changing, there is the potential for your own role to be changing too – another source of the shock, denial, frustration, depression emotions. It’s hard when decisions are made that impact on you but are out of your sphere of influence, hence these emotional triggers. We all react differently to this stage; for some of us a survival mechanism kicks in immediately and we go into coping mode, both organising and directing others around us with a very practical and people-centric approach. Others feel afraid, worried, uncertain and can be irritable because they feel a sense of panic. Neither reaction is good or bad – but being able to identify how you respond at this stage is useful in terms of self-help. PHASE 2/ACCEPTANCE PHASE These emotions incorporate experiment and decision on the curve and represent the phase of accepting the reality and a change of mindset. Narrowing your vision to the things that are within your scope of influence and parking the bigger picture stuff is key in this phase as is seeking practical solutions to the source of your anguish. Assessing the risks and looking for strategies you can implement to

The Kübler-Ross Change Curve


October 2021



Should we focus more on the future, and the opportunities for school business leaders, rather than comparisons with the past? mitigate these risks helps to crystallise the change in mindset and can have a positive emotional impact – for example, accepting that working routines and systems are changing and how they might work for the better. Working from home, albeit for one day, or even half a day, to manage your time more effectively might be worth considering – the experience during 2020 has proven that we can be more effective and productive doing this – and looking to strengthen your CV if you feel you may, ultimately, need to look for a change of role – these could all be the kind of strategies that are relevant for you. PHASE 3/OPPORTUNITY PHASE This is the classic ‘review and evaluate’ stage also known as ‘acceptance and development’. Some of us cope with this stage more quickly than others. Think about the positives that are a direct result of how things have changed, for example, the opportunity to work from home at some point is no longer the taboo it used to be. Flexibility can be key in this phase and having a more positive


October 2021

mindset means we can be much more adaptable and more readily seek out new opportunities and challenges. There is no sequential progression through these three phases and, a bit like Tuckman’s stages of team development, there’s always the risk you can step backwards into the previous phase(s), but an awareness of this can help to negate the impact of that. Finally, I’d pose another question – should we focus more on the future, and the opportunities for school business leaders, rather than comparisons with the past? Our profession has evolved and moved forward in a very positive way over the last 20 years. It was inevitable that the role would change as the structures within the sector altered, and it is likely to continue to change, but a huge advantage we have as school business leaders is resilience; we’ve demonstrated this resilience in bucket loads in the last 18 months and I believe it has been noticed. The challenges ahead will test our resilience further - for example on

inequities of pay, recognition, workload, progression etc., - and that will be frustrating, but don’t just look back at the past in frustration at the loss of a better bygone era – acknowledge both the shortcomings of the past but also the progress the profession has made (at least the DfE acknowledge the SBL profession more openly now!) and also try to focus on how the future might be more positive for us too. Who knows – in another 20 years’ time we might be reflecting on 2021 and saying things like, ‘Who’d have thought we’d be able to work from home more regularly – we have COVID to thank for that!’

Val Andrew is: rogramme manager for Best P Practice Network DSBM Level 4 - find out more: https://www. 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

It’s time to turn data into smarter data We connect all your school and trust data across finance, school management, and engagement software to create smarter insights, processes, and outcomes. That’s the power of better-connected data.

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0344 225 1525 October 2021



Keeping an eye out for the right paper Our eyesight is one of our most important senses - one which we can easily take for granted. Across of all of the human senses, our eyes play the biggest part in helping us to identify with our environment and protect us from danger


aking care of our eyes is often done with a visit to the opticians for an eye test, but there can be other factors which can play a part in affecting our eyes which are not necessarily detected by an eye test. One of these is ‘visual stress’ - a term is often linked to dyslexia and similar visual learning difficulties. However, it can also occur for a variety of other reasons, causing headaches, reading difficulties and fatigue when reading.

VARIETY AND RANGE It is estimated that 20% of the population suffer from visual stress to some degree and, in some cases, research has linked white page glare to the condition. Fortunately, there are many options available in terms of paper which may help to reduce this problem, particularly for schools and those in education. International Paper’s wide range of tinted papers could offer a practical solution in assisting people when reading and absorbing information. It has been reported that by using papers which are an off-white or pastel shade sufferers of visual stress can experience an improvement. Our Rey® Adagio tinted papers provide a wide range of options when it comes to experimenting with different shades of paper.


October 2021

By using papers which are an off-white or pastel shade sufferers of visual stress can experience an improvement MANY OPTIONS Popular shades in our Rey® Adagio pastels range include ivory, salmon, pale blue, green and grey, plus many more, giving plenty of choice for the user. They are smooth, matt papers so the issue of glare is not a problem, and the range has been produced to ensure that they are suitable for double-sided printing which, again, can enhance readability. There has been an increase in the variety of tinted products over recent years as manufacturers introduce more ranges to help support visual stress, particularly in schools. Pastel books, pads and overlays are all widely available, and you can benefit from offering products such as Rey® Adagio as part of your product portfolio. Visit our website to find out more about the Rey® Adagio range. This is a sponsored article published on behalf of International Paper. https://www.


60 seconds with MELISSA SINGER, business manager at Selwood Academy, tells us about leaping from a plane and wearing her top inside out! What led to your current role?

Melissa Singer, business manager at Selwood Academy

I decided to leave my beloved business manager role at a special school I’d been with for 18 years to move into the world of academisation and mainstream education. Scared, but excited, about the challenges ahead I took up the role of finance and premises manager in the school where I am now the business leader. When I left my school of 18 years I had set a goal to work towards becoming an academy business leader within five years; my determination and commitment paid off when I actually achieved my goal at the five-year mark that I had originally set myself. Fate, some may say!

Tell us something unusual or interesting about yourself. In 2018 I did a skydive with two other colleagues to raise funds for charity. Jumping out of an aeroplane at 10,000ft was exhilarating - and think I shocked my friends and family in wanting to do it - but having them there to witness it was a memory I will always treasure. I will always remember after freefalling, and opening the parachute, my professional tandem jumper saying, “Welcome to my office!” Has to be the best office ever!

What has been your favourite aspect of working as a school business professional so far? It has to be as simple as knowing that all that you do - day in, day out - through the ups and the downs, ultimately benefits the pupils, the staff and the entire school community, which is extremely rewarding.

How do you ensure that you continue to grow personally and professionally? By keeping an open mind and recognising that you can learn from everyone you come in to contact with, and vice versa. I have also found it’s necessary to dedicate time specifically for my own CPD. It’s so easy to forget about yourself

when a huge part of your job role is about providing support and guidance for others, so you tend to put your own needs last and can quite often feel isolated.

Where do you take inspiration from, both work and life-wise? My mum and my two beautiful daughters are my utmost inspiration in life. My girls are the reason I do all that I do and, as a full-time working mum, I have had to juggle many things to ensure they know they are always my priority but still understand the commitment I have to my profession too!

What three words would you use to describe your role? Ever-evolving, rewarding, challenging.

If there was one thing about your job you could change, what would it be? I adore my job on the whole but, in my 26-year career in the education sector, the one thing that becomes tiresome is the need to justify and clarify your position for various reasons, some of which have been a) because I’m a woman in leadership, b) because I’m a non-teaching member of a senior leadership team and c) because my route into leadership is not deemed ‘traditional’. It would be nice to see some change in these misconceptions of the profession and, of course, to ensure that pay is commensurate with the responsibilities and accountability that comes with SBM roles.

Funniest SBM moment you’d care to share? There have been far too many to mention in detail, from being caught on CCTV falling over, and arriving at work with your top inside out, to creasing up when an interview candidate said a ‘naughty’ word inadvertently - my composure going out the window, not able to hold back the laughter, so much so that tears start to fall! Whatever happens, I truly believe that laughter is the best medicine and boy, do we laugh often! 

October 2021



n i g t a up e H HELEN BURGE, deputy COO at The Priory Learning Trust, discusses how you can help your school become more sustainable


OP26 - the United Nations Climate Change Conference will be taking place in Glasgow this November. COP stands for the ‘Conference of the Parties’ these are the signatories of the 1994 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This is their 26th meeting - and what an important conference it will be, following a summer of alarming evidence of the impact of our planet warming up, with devastating and deadly forest fires in Greece, Turkey, Italy, Russia, France, Portugal, Australia, Romania, North America, South America and Canada. I was also shocked to hear that Russia now has the opportunity to compete with the Suez Canal by providing a 15-day faster shipping route compared to the Suez route, as the Arctic ice cover is receding and allowing a shipping route all year round.

“No challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.” Barack Obama We really are facing a climate emergency. The scientific evidence is clear that human activity is increasing the emissions of greenhouse gases, which is causing our climate to change. One of the most significant greenhouse gases is carbon dioxide, which is emitted when gas, coal and oil - fossil fuels (prehistoric dead animals and plants) - are burned to meet our energy


October 2021


demands. ‘Carbon emissions’ is the term widely used to describe the emissions of all greenhouse gases. In 2019, the UK government pledged to have net zero emissions by 2050, which means the amount of carbon we add to the atmosphere is not allowed to be more than the amount removed.

“I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic...and act as if your house was on fire.” Greta Thunberg By 2050, I shall be 74 and hopefully retired. In the meantime I will act and make changes to my trust’s estate and encourage others to make changes in their school estates so that, together, we can help the UK get to net zero – and, preferably, before 2050. It’s ambitious, but how can we do it? Start at the top and get your trustees and governors involved in creating a strategic sustainability plan which specifically addresses reducing the school’s carbon footprint. Take a look at which is a national campaign for schools to collaboratively work to be carbon zero by 2030. This would mean for a school that its site and all its activities, including procurement, do not contribute towards climate change through carbon emissions. Speak to experts – your energy consultants - about your energy procurement. If you are large enough, share with them your Streamlined Energy Carbon Report and discuss how you are currently buying power. Consider switching energy sources and, remember, no carbon for electricity generated from renewables/nuclear. Does your estate have gas and oil boilers? Develop a heat decarbonisation plan with expert support. Use grant opportunities via SALIX, or use your CIF bids or SCA funding, to convert your fossil fuel heating plant to low carbon alternatives. If you’re planning a new build, ask that they install heat pumps, solar panels, and a building management system which you can control easily to switch off heating, reduce the temperature – one which has a working, accurate, external thermostat to trigger the

Start at the top and get your trustees and governors involved heating when it is required. Can you generate your own energy? Do you have a surplus field or flat roofs in great condition? If so, consider solar panels. Maybe, if you have the space and the right neighbours, you could install a wind turbine?

“The future depends on what you do today” Mahatma Gandhi I appreciate that these are big projects which cannot all be completed within the next 12 months, but incremental changes will bring about results - and how satisfying will it be to see your carbon footprint falling year-on-year? I wonder at what point schools are going to be sharing their Ofsted outcomes alongside their carbon footprint reduction progress or even net zero status? And will it follow that parents select their child’s schools because of their net zero status? Sustainability sustains the school’s future. So, whilst you are planning, and waiting for funding, for all these medium-to-long term projects, ensure you are using your energy well. Monitor your energy consumption. Are there spikes in the middle of the night when no one is in? Can the heating be switched off earlier? Can the thermostat go down a notch? Do you heat the school during all the term breaks? Are you servicing your boilers often enough to ensure their efficiency? Can your site teams be actively involved in reducing energy consumption and spotting where changes could be made? You could pledge to be a zero carbon school and use the Let’s Go Zero resources to help you further develop child/student/staff friendly ideas to reduce energy consumption. Would the Eco Schools Award help your school have a collaborative focus to make changes? This is not a one person job; involve others, and build the momentum of action to reduce your school’s carbon footprint.

October 2021


Management {FINANCE}

What is the Condition Improvement Fund? A guide to the Condition Improvement Fund - what it is, who can apply for it, and how to apply for it


he Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) is an annual bidding round for eligible academies, sixth-form colleges and voluntary aided (VA) schools to apply for capital funding. The priority for the fund is to address significant condition needs, keeping education provider buildings safe and in good working order; this includes funding projects to address health and safety issues, building compliance and poor building condition. CIF also supports a small proportion of expansion projects; these are for academies,


October 2021

sixth-form colleges and VA schools rated good or outstanding by Ofsted which can demonstrate a need to expand.

INFORMATION FOR CIF APPLICANTS: 2021 TO 2022 This year’s criteria again favour bids from applicants with strong governance and good financial management. The DfE believes there is a strong link between trusts with a good grip on finance and governance and effective, value for money, capital delivery. Click here for further information

Management {FINANCE}

CIF PORTAL For CIF 2021 to 2022 you will require access to the CIF portal to submit your applications. Read the ‘Applying to CIF’ section of the Condition Improvement Fund 2021 to 2022: information for applicants

Loans are offered at Public Works Loan Board rates of interest

WHO CAN APPLY Single academy trusts, small multi-academy trusts (MATs), sixth-form colleges and eligible VA schools can apply for CIF. In order to be eligible to apply for the 2021 to 2022 round, you must have been: ● a n open academy, sixth-form college or VA school as of 1 September 2020 ● a school with a signed academy order as of 1 September 2020 (if successful, you must have converted to academy status and had a funding agreement in place by 1 April 2021 to receive funding) MATs with five or more academies, and more than 3,000 pupils, CANNOT apply for CIF. These trusts will receive a School Condition Allocation (SCA) to invest across their estate in 2021 to 2022.

LOANS Academies and sixth-form colleges can take out a loan for all, or part of, the project costs in their application, in order to demonstrate their commitment to the scheme. You can

For CIF 2021 to 2022 you will require access to the CIF portal

use the Condition Improvement Fund loan: repayment calculator 2020 to determine the annual and total repayments that will be incurred. Loans are offered at Public Works Loan Board rates of interest - the same rate that local authorities can access to invest in their schools. You’ll make loan repayments through abatement of revenue funding paid to you and reinvested into future capital budgets.

URGENT CAPITAL SUPPORT (UCS) UCS is specifically for urgent condition issues that threaten immediate school closure.

WHO CAN APPLY? You can apply if you are an academy, sixth-form college or VA school and you meet these two conditions: ● you do not receive school conditional allocation (SCA) ● y ou need funding assistance to address urgent building condition issues that either: ● p ut the safety of your pupils or staff at risk ● t hreaten the closure of the whole, or a significant part, of your school Your application will only be considered where there is a genuine and immediate need for urgent support, such that you cannot wait until the next round of CIF.

October 2021



Cross words: The importance of working out the communications requirements of key stakeholders

STEPHEN PEACH, assistant headteacher and business manager, Dacorum Education Support Centre, discusses how to prevent miscommunication


f you’re fortunate enough to be a parent, you’ll understand the joys and disappointments, the elation and frustration, the highs and lows, the time they need, the effort they require and the money they want. Oh, boy, do they need money. Having children is the most difficult project anyone could ever undertake in life because you’ve got them always and forever and it doesn’t matter how much time, love, patience, money, gentleness, self-control, relationshipbuilding, sympathy, resilience, reflection and money you put into them, you’re always left with the feeling that it’s never quite enough and that you could have done more. SBMs, I’ve observed, demonstrate similar feelings and attributes in the way they manage their tasks; larger projects can absorb as much time


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and resources as you care to give them and frequently leave you with the feeling that you could have done more. Meanwhile, trying to look on the bright side, children will increase your levels of patience and perseverance, tolerance and negotiating skills immeasurably - though, it must be said, the one difference between bringing up children and a putting up a new building is that a building needs less intervention as it gets older…

MISCOMMUNICATIONS In the building project I undertook a while ago I was fortunate in that, at a very early stage, we had a miscommunication issue between the five people who were co-ordinating the project. It wasn’t a big deal (no-one fell out!) but it was enough for me to realise that, as with


everything in a school, the success of the project depended on organising the people to ensure they delivered what was wanted, at the time it was wanted. In my school the business manager is responsible for anything that isn’t directly classroom-related and I soon realised that everyone was coming to me to ask questions and request information. To ensure miscommunication didn’t happen again, I did two things. Firstly, I needed to work out the status of everyone involved, what information they needed and what communication channels would be used for each one. Some people respond better to in-person discussions, while others prefer ‘phone calls and, still others, the speed of an email. I’ve tried to illustrate my thought processes like the diagram below. These were all the people and groups of people who had an interest in the outcome that I had to deal with. By highlighting the sphere of influence of each stakeholder, and where they fitted into the chain, I could work out why they needed the information, who it was for, and how often they wanted it. Difficulties occasionally arose because people would try to shortcut established lines of communication, ending up with less than all the information they needed, so I soon worked out I needed to touch base with some people on a more regular basis to ensure everyone was working towards agreed goals, and not shooting off on a tangent. It helped to work out who the disruptors were, as I was able to anticipate problems before they arose. These people were fullyinvested in the project, and often came up with great new ideas and ways of working but, if these were out of step with what everyone else was working towards, progress needed to be re-negotiated quickly. Secondly, I needed to ensure that each piece of information I received was delivered to everyone who needed it. In order to ensure no-one was left out I asked myself a series of questions along these lines: ● Who do I need to chase to get the information? ● Once it arrives, who needs to be thanked for providing it? ● Who needs to be aware of this information, but not act on it? ● Who needs to act on this information? ● Who needs to change what they are currently doing, as a result of this information?

I soon realised that everyone was coming to me to ask questions How does this information change what is scheduled to happen next? You get the idea – there can be loads of different questions to fit in with the context in which you are working. Without being this specific, and taking time to work out all the destinations of each piece of information you can see how misunderstandings and disagreements can quickly arise. Equally, it helped me to analyse the behaviours of those people around me, to specify in my head what information they wanted, and how it needed to be presented in a way they could engage with and have confidence in. ●

NEVER TOO MUCH Most of the time, it worked well! It’s timeconsuming, and often tedious, but there were no more miscommunications for the duration of the project - in fact, working pro-actively in this way flagged-up problems earlier than would otherwise have been the case. At the end of it all, my learning point from the whole experience was that there’s no such thing as too much communication during project management, and that things can quickly go wrong if there is any break in information flow.

The thought process

October 2021



What is the EdTech Demonstrator Programme? A guide to the EdTech Demonstrator Programme and which schools are taking part


he EdTech Demonstrator Programme provides schools and colleges with free, peer-to-peer support on the effective use of technology in education. Support is tailored to the needs of each school and college,


October 2021

supported by a diagnostic tool which aligns with a review your remote education provision framework. To find out how to access this support, click here. Phase one of the programme ran from April 2020 to March 2021. The original programme was

refocused in April 2020 to help support remote teaching and working during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Phase two began in April 2021 and will run until March 2022; it will support schools and colleges to use technology to: ● h elp students catch up;

● r educe

teacher workload; their resources effectively; ● i mprove access to the curriculum; ● a chieve wider improvement aims; ● s upport remote education if and when required. Demonstrator schools and ● m anage


colleges are a network of providers who have shown they can use technology effectively and have the capacity to help other schools and colleges to do the same. In 2021 to 2022 the network will continue to support schools and colleges with remote education when it’s needed,

and with the use of technology for: ● R ECOVERY - showing how technology can bolster pupil and student progress and outcomes, and support catch-up and recovery activities - for example, through online and in-person teaching and tutoring, the development of independent and individualised learning, and support for high-quality assessment and feedback. ● R EDUCING WORKLOAD - using technology to remove unnecessary tasks, support more flexible teaching practices, improve access to excellent curriculum resources, communicate more quickly and easily, and develop professional links. ● S CHOOL AND COLLEGE IMPROVEMENT PLANS ensuring that the adoption of technology supports the wider aims of the school or college. ● S CHOOL AND COLLEGE RESOURCE MANAGEMENT - ensuring that the adoption of technology provides the best value for money for their existing resources - for example, through cloud-based education platforms and management information systems and making informed procurement decisions. An accessible and inclusive

Support is tailored to the needs of each school and college curriculum - ensuring that the adoption of technology includes a strong focus on improving access for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities, and removing barriers to the effective use of assistive technology. Support is tailored to the needs of each school and college and will be underpinned by a diagnostic tool to be used at the start and end of the training. There are three tiers of support available to schools and colleges: ● LIGHT TOUCH SUPPORT (six hours of training delivered over a term.) For example, those schools and colleges requiring rapid support on remote education, catch-up and recovery provision. ● MEDIUM TOUCH TERM SUPPORT (c.15 hours of training delivered over the academic year.) For example, identifying one or two areas where technology can be adopted and have maximum impact for teachers and pupils. ● LONG-TERM SUPPORT (c.30 hours of training delivered over the academic year.) For example, working with schools and colleges to develop a sustainable

digital strategy, embedding technology - particularly digital platforms and devices - as part of a wider change programme, and recognising where technology will, and will not, make an impact.

WHICH SCHOOLS ARE EDTECH DEMONSTRATORS? Demonstrator schools and colleges are state-funded schools and further education providers in England offering primary, secondary and/or 16-to-19 education with an overall Ofsted rating of ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’. During the selection process, they also needed to satisfy DfE that they had good financial controls and financial reserves. The successful demonstrator school and college applicants from the first funding round were announced in April 2020. DfE ran a further funding round in April, to invite further applicants to express an interest in becoming demonstrator schools and colleges, and these were announced in June 2020. All demonstrator schools and colleges from the first year of the programme were asked whether they wished to continue for a second year and if so, what support they could provide. The full list of schools is available here. 

October 2021


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!

Pub quiz 1. In what year did Tony Blair become British prime minister? 2. How many times has England won the men’s football World Cup? 3. What is the capital of New Zealand? 4. Street artist Banksy is originally associated with which British city? 5. From what grain is the Japanese spirit Sake made?

To put a shelf up straight, use masking tape to template it first by sticking the tape to the back of the shelf and marking where the screws will go. Then, using a spirit level, stick that tape to the wall and drill holes where the marks are.

Answers: 1. 1997 2. Once (1966) 3.Wellington 4.Bristol 5.Rice


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

HOPPING BACK AGAIN According to BBC News, a frog which has been extinct in England since the 1990s has been reintroduced to its original habitat after some were flown over from Sweden. The northern pool frog was last found at Thompson Common, in Norfolk. The Swedish specimens were introduced to a secret site in Norfolk in 2005 and tadpoles have since been


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successfully moved back to ponds at the common. “This means we can reverse extinction, and it’s not often you can say that for an animal,” a conservation group said. Jim Foster, director of Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, said the frog became extinct in England as declining water levels made their breeding ponds unsuitable.

Live it

Thumbs up!

Two trips down the aisle results in a smile

As reported by BBC News, when Kirsty Thomas realised her 81-year-old grandmother could not go to her wedding, she was devastated. Determined to have her in the wedding photos, the new bride put on her dress to recreate part of the big day at Val Peddle’s care home in Bridgend. Kirsty said staff at Ty Ynysawdre home were amazing, transforming the garden for the family’s photos. As well as added complications due to pandemic, dental nurse Kirsty said her grandmother had dementia and could find changes in routine upsetting - but she was determined to have her play a part in the special day. Kirsty was ushered into a side room to change into her wedding dress before making an appearance. “As I got closer, her face lit up and she said, ‘Oh, it’s Kirsty!’ She was crying, I was crying - so yes she realised then that it was me in my wedding dress. She was just saying ‘You look amazing’ and she offered to carry my train! She said ‘This is the day I have been waiting for.’”

When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on Franklin D. Roosevelt

DID YOU KNOW? Did you know that the 100 folds in a chef’s hat represent one hundred ways to cook an egg? Yes, that tall, pleated white hat that chefs wear — technically called a toque — has 100 folds for a reason! According to Reluctant Gourmet, the pleats used to signify a chef’s level of experience, such as the number of ways he or she knew how to prepare eggs.

Well, knock me down with a feather!

BRILLIANT BIRDS AND BINS Cockatoos have worked out how to open bin lids by watching others do the trick says Sky News. Ornithologist Richard Major first observed Australian sulphur-crested cockatoos opening the lids of bins to scavenge for food a number of years ago by. Impressed by their ingenuity Major, and researchers in Germany, studied how many cockatoos had learned this trick. The team documented the phenomenon in three suburbs of Sydney in early 2018, and found that it had spread to 44 suburbs by late 2019. After analysing videos of 160 of the clever birds lifting bin lids, and assessing the geographic spread, they decided most birds learned by watching others.

October 2021



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