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EDUCATION

EXECUTIVE

SUMMER 2021

Digital wrap edition

SUPPORTING BUSINESS AND F INANCIAL EXCELLENCE IN SCHOOLS AND ACADEMIES

Two decades, a thousand lessons learnt Ro Smith reflects on her role as an SBM

P A R W L A T I DIG ALSO INSIDE THIS MONTH: JOIN US AT EDEXEC LIVE 2021!

SURVEY REVEALS MIS COULD OFFER MORE TO SCHOOLS

HOW HAS THE ROLE OF THE SBM CHANGED

We’re back, and better than ever!

The results of our survey in collaboration with IRIS

We asked you for the changes you’ve experienced


GET YOUR DIARIES OUT!

We’re back with dates for our 2021 events! It’s been a tough 12 months, with more challenges to come – so we thought we would bring a little slice of (professional) happiness for us all to look forward to...! Get ahead of the professional curve, network and re-charge by joining us at EdExec LIVE – our leading school business management conference

Manchester- 12th October 2021 London- 30th September 2021

SAVE THE DATE!

MANCHESTER - 12TH OCTOBER 2021 LONDON - 30TH SEPTEMBER 2021 email hello@edexeclive.co.uk to reserve your place Learn more at edexeclive.co.uk


Contents NEWS & VIEWS

06 NEWS

Latest school business management news in brief

08 EPI REPORT: EDUCATION RECOVERY

AND RESILIENCE IN ENGLAND How much money is really needed for catch-up?

10 BIG ASK

We asked about your hopes for the next educational year

1 2 SPOTLIGHT ON:

SCHOOL INFECTION RATES How rates of COVID infection in schools have changed LEADERSHIP BY EXAMPLE

14

A CHALLENGING, BUT REWARDING, ROLE Emma Sands on the ups and downs of school business management

27

18

TWO DECADES, A THOUSAND LESSONS LEARNT Ro Smith reflects on her role as an SBM

21

JOIN US AT EDEXEC LIVE 2021 Everything you need to know about our upcoming events

27

HOW HAS THE ROLE OF THE SBM CHANGED DURING THE PANDEMIC? What changes have SBMs experienced over the last year?

36

40 MANAGEMENT

32 A VIEW FROM THE ENGINE ROOM

The magical tools SBMs can use to make their lives a fairytale

34 SURVEY REVEALS MIS COULD OFFER

MORE TO SCHOOLS The results of our survey in collaboration with IRIS ICT MATTERS

36

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

38

MEASURING THE EFFECTIVENESS EDTECH IN IMPROVING OUTCOMES Royden Gothelf on developments in edtech

40

EDTECH: AN ENABLER FOR TRANSFORMATION The story of an award-winning digital transformation

44

TECHNO GEEK Simon Hepburn on why you should be using online surveys LIVE IT

43

60 SECONDS WITH Nicky Gillhespy, chief operating officer at LEO Academy Trust

46

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!

EDUCATION

EXECUTIVE

SUMMER 2021

Digital wrap edition

SUPPORTING BUSINESS AND F INANCIAL EXCELLENCE IN SCHOOLS AND ACADEMIES

Two decades, a thousand lessons learnt Ro Smith reflects on her role as an SBM

AP DIGITAL WR ALSO INSIDE THIS MONTH: EDEXEC LIVE 2021!

JOIN US AT

SURVEY REVEALS MIS COULD OFFER MORE TO SCHOOLS

HOW HAS THE ROLE OF THE SBM CHANGED

We’re back, and better than ever!

The results of our survey in collaboration with IRIS

We asked you for the changes you’ve experienced

On the cover Ro Smith takes us on her SBM journey documenting the roller coaster ride that she has experienced over two decades


Editor’s comment You’ve made it! It’s nearly the end of the school year, and what a year it has been. The last year has certainly tested (literally!) many people’s resolve, but you have all shown what resilient and adaptable superheroes you truly are. There will be countless people in your schools, academies and trusts who are incredibly thankful and appreciative of all the hard work and extra hours you have put in to make sure things ran as smoothly as possible during an extremely bumpy time. So, let out a sigh of relief and give yourself a massive pat on the back. I know SBMs aren’t the best at acknowledging their own greatness but, after the last year, I think it’s time to park the humbleness and embrace your brilliance – even if just for a few minutes! With your experience over the last year in mind, in this issue we ask you how your role has changed during the pandemic. As well as looking back, we also look forward, and ask about your hopes for the next educational year. We review the statistics and look at how much money is really needed for pupil catch-up and analyse how COVID infection rates in schools have fluctuated over the last year. We then dive deeper into the SBM world with an interview with Emma Sands about her SBM journey, and Ro Smith let’s us in on the lessons she has learnt after two decades of being in the job. Planning is now well-underway for EdExec LIVE 2021 - we can’t wait to see you all in person later this year! As one of the first face-to-face SBM events to come back after a year of cancelled or online events, we promise to make it a CPD day to remember. In this issue you’ll find all the information you need to know about our London and Manchester events, along with details of how you can book your tickets. The WORKING SBM tells us an SBM fairy-tale, and we magically reveal the results of our survey, in collaboration with IRIS, on management information systems. Our ICT MATTERS section features an interview with a BETT award-winning trust, advice on how you can use online surveys, and an analysis of developments in the edtech world. We finish with the light relief of the LIVE IT section which includes a 60 seconds discussing omelette competitions! 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 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.

@EdExec Design

Graphic designer Amanda Lancaster alancasterdesign.com

Editorial

Assistant editor and social media lead Ellie Potter eleanor@intelligentmedia.co.uk

Sales

info@intelligentmedia.co.uk

Publisher

Vicki Baloch vicki@intelligentmedia.co.uk

ED EXEC EDITORIAL TEAM

GET YOUR DAILY DOSE OF SBM NEWS, ADVICE AND GUIDANCE AT

WWW.EDEXEC.CO.UK

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

RO SMITH School business manager Long Furlong Primary School

SIMON HEPBURN Founder Marketing Advice For Schools

ROYDEN GOTHELF Director RightICT

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

NEWS STORIES RESOURCES EXPERT BLOGS

EDUCATION EXECUTIVE


News and views {NEWS}

NEWS

The latest news and views from the world of education

@WrexhamSBP: The #SBLKudos live feed is a thing of beauty, so many magnificent comments

Nearly nine-out-of-10 parents say their child’s school handled COVID-19 well A large majority of parents (87%) think that their child’s school has handled the pandemic well, according to Ofsted’s annual Parents Survey for 2021. This year’s survey asked a set of questions about the impact of COVID-19, and found that seven-in-10 parents had received guidance or training from their child’s school to help support remote education at home. However, around two thirds of parents reported that they were worried about their child’s learning loss, and their mental health, while nearly half were concerned over their children’s physical health. Over 1,000 parents with children at pre-school, school and colleges in England participated in this year’s online survey. This is the sixth year the research has been conducted and it continues to provide important evidence to inform the development of Ofsted’s priorities.

@sbarrett92: @SBLconnect we’ve received notification of our COVID mass testing funding for period 6th Mar - 1st Apr. No prior warning of what the figure would be! #sbltwitter

06

Summer 2021

Schools set to lose £118m funding divide forDigital poor pupils

‘locking children out of education’

Schools in England could lose £118m funding for poor pupils this Barnardo’s year, the Local chiefGovernment executive Association Javed Khan (LGA)said says. “urgent The education action” department was needed is to bringing makeforward internetthe access annual more date foraffordable. counting those Ofcom students said sixeligible per cent for the of UK pupil families premium struggled which, it says, with will broadband help plan costs, budgets. while Pupils five who perhave centbecome could not eligible affordbetween their mobile October bills. 2020 The andDepartment January 2021 for will Education not now(DfE) be counted said it had until delivered October54,000 2021. The 4G routers government to low-income said a typical families. school A government will see ‘anscheme to increase indistribute its pupil one million premium laptops allocations‘ to schoolchildren this year; had however, delivered an801,524 LGA survey machines suggests as of the 17 January, new but move many will areadd stillup unable to a loss to get of about online while £93mschools for primary are shut schools during andthe £25m pandemic. for secondary An Ofcom schools. report On average, from 2020 estimates each local authority between areaone willmillion lose about and£600,000 1.8m children in primary do not school have pupil accesspremium to a laptop, funding desktop or alone, tablet at it estimates, home. Low-income based on responses households fromare 72also out less of 151 likely councils to have inan England. internet connection in their home, instead relying on expensive mobile phone data packages at a time when paying for weekly food and heating bills is already extremely challenging.


News and views {NEWS}

Department for Education had no COVID plan, say MPs A report by the Public Accounts Committee states that the DfE struggled to react to events in a timely and effective way in England. It says the failure to set standards for in-school and remote learning meant children ‘had very unequal experiences’ during the pandemic. In response, the DfE says it acted swiftly, and provided extensive support. The report says that, despite being involved in a cross-government exercise in 2016 on dealing with a ‘flu pandemic, the DfE was ‘unprepared’ for the challenges of COVID-19. It suggests there should be a thorough exercise to learn lessons from its early response.

Children fly high in maths lessons thanks to imaginative teacher and her drone It’s usually important that teachers don’t drone during lessons - but Delamere Academy’s Lucy Bate is anything but boring. The enterprising key stage two teacher has been using her remote-controlled flying machine to capture children’s imagination during maths lessons. While Miss Bate steered the miniature aircraft high above the primary’s generous Following the announcement of theplaying roadmap which fields, the laid excited youngsters arranged out a cautious easing of restrictions,themselves the government has number formations to in different announced further elements of thereflect recovery what support they had learned in class - then package so children and young people they can giggled catchasup they onwatched the video footage missed learning and development due shot to from the the pandemic. sky. The return to school on March 8 will be supported Miss Bate, with who a new joined Delamere last year, £700m package, focusing on an expansion said: “It’sofimportant one-to-one to have a creative approach and small group tutoring programmes, to teaching as welland as supporting make lessons as fun as possible, the development of disadvantaged as children these are in probably early years some of the most settings, and summer provision formemorable those pupilsmoments who need of itschool life for children. the most. Using technology is a really easy way to capture A new one-off Recovery Premium for children’s state interest, because they can relate to it primary and secondary schools, building so easily, onand are very keen to engage with it. the Pupil Premium, will be provided to drone schoolsisto use as tool theyfor learning because The a useful see best to support disadvantaged students. it instantly engages all of the children. During the practical lesson on arrays of factor pairs, as soon as I mentioned we would go outside and use the drone their faces absolutely lit up.”

DfE announces new education recovery package

News in brief

Brambles Primary Academy to open new school building in September The return to school this September will be all the more exciting for pupils and staff at Brambles Primary Academy with the opening of their new school building. Funded by Kirklees Council, works are currently underway to create the new building complete with classrooms, dining area and curriculum support spaces. There will also be expanded kitchen facilities and investment in play areas. Despite COVID restrictions causing some delays, the main building groundworks and foundations at the site on Clare Hill, in Huddersfield, are now mainly complete, with roofing and internal structures starting to take shape. Established in September 2018, the school has three year groups which are currently being taught in temporary modular buildings. When the new building opens, it will offer these children and staff top quality facilities in a pleasant and modern learning environment. The additional space will also allow the school to offer more places for children of local families as it continues to expand over the coming years, up to a maximum capacity of 420 pupils.

@mrs_crimboSBM: Saw a SBM job today for £13k!!! Seriously?!?! #sbltwitter #sblchat

Summer 2021

07


News and views {NEWS REPORT}

EPI report: education recovery and resilience in England A new report by the Education Policy Institute finds that a three-year funding package totalling £13.5bn will be required by the government to reverse the damage to pupils’ learning as a result of the pandemic

T

he analysis, which models the impact of lost learning, and sets out a series of fully-costed, evidence-based proposals, shows that significant investment will be required to deliver on the prime minister’s promise to the nation that ‘no child is left behind’. The government has stated that education recovery is central to its ‘build back better’ agenda, and has already committed £1.7bn in short-term catch-up funding to support pupils in England in the wake of the biggest post-war disruption to the education system.

LOST LEARNING The Education Policy Institute (EPI) report draws on its latest research on lost learning carried out for the Department for Education (DfE), along with economic

08

Summer 2021

modelling on the long-term impact of the pandemic on young people’s employment and life chances, and a review of the most effective policies in supporting pupils’ attainment and wellbeing. In order to reverse months of lost learning - and prevent total lost future earnings for pupils running into the tens of billions - the research shows that the government will need to put in place an ambitious, multiyear, programme of support.

IMPLEMENTING INTERVENTIONS Policies which EPI is calling on the government to implement include extended school hours for social and academic activities, additional pupil premium funding, summer wellbeing programmes, more incentives for teachers to work in ‘challenging areas’, further

The government will need to put in place an ambitious, multiyear, programme of support mental health support in schools and an option for some pupils to retake the year. The series of suggested education interventions total £13.5bn over the course of this parliament and, taken together, would seek to reverse the lost learning seen by pupils since March 2020; the DfE’s annual schools budget for England is £48bn. While regaining months of lost academic progress must be the immediate priority, the report argues that, if

implemented effectively, such interventions should be retained beyond the three-year period to address pre-existing inequalities in education and improve outcomes.

A WIDENING GAP EPI research shows that, prior to the pandemic, disadvantaged pupils were already 18 months of learning behind their more affluent peers by the time they took their GCSEs – with that attainment gap already starting to widen. The retention of these suggested policies should also be met with further investment beyond schools – in wider children’s services and mental health services, supported by an urgent child poverty strategy. 

To access the full EPI Report click here


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News and views {BIG ASK}

What are your hopes for the next educational year? For this month’s BIG ASK, you told us what your hopes are for the next educational year beginning in September

Claire Brand, business manager

10

Summer 2021

I have several hopes for the next school year as we start a move towards our normal ways of working. I hope that: ● the vaccination programme continues to roll out at a fast pace to ensure everyone is vaccinated as soon as possible to minimise the disruption to education, preventing it from going any further than it has already. As the parent of a Year 11 student, I know that he would have achieved better outcomes had he had the full two-year course of study; ● any  lingering or new advices are not thrust upon schools without adequate lead time; ● the  wider enrichment opportunities offered to students are able to fully resume; for example, one of the effective strategies that was halted was cooking. As a PRU, education outside of the classroom is important for social and emotional development; not being able to use minibuses, run the normal programme of activities, or access provision such as indoor climbing has been difficult for staff and students alike; ● the  LA may provide the budget statement, and any changes to commissioning agreements, in a timely manner in order to facilitate effective budget preparation; ● the  financial burden of the country due to COVID will not have a further detrimental effect on school budgets - although I fear that this has already started…..

Stacey Bull, head of operations

My hopes for the next academic year are a sense of normality, and a return to the focus on educating young people, rather than keeping them within restrictions. During the last year, I have spent more time reading health guidance and writing (and re-writing!) risk assessments than I have ever spent in my 13 years as a school business manager. When someone mentions a room change I tremble with fear about the cleaning requirements and the potential bubble-contamination! As an academy, we have managed incredibly well and our building with separate chapter wings has been a godsend for keeping students apart. I know many other schools have had difficulties with this. Watching the children remain in their own year group, without the natural interaction with peers of different ages, has been hard. No Year 7 camp, no learning outside the classroom - no prom! They have missed out on so many enriching life moments that they won’t get back. I hope that next year we can provide them with a full extracurricular programme that stretches all of their abilities, and enhances their cultural capital. 


News and views {BIG ASK}

Conny Brandt, school business manager

My main hope for the coming year is that we will be able to get together as one school community again, rather than having to stay in separate bubbles! I would love to see our pupils be able to move around the site again, staff from all classes and teams being able to chat together in the staffroom, and whole-school events bringing our community together. I am also looking forward to some of the positive changes brought about by COVID staying, such as having some meetings remotely - which saves so much time, as well as travel expenses. Having said that, I am also really looking forward to being able to attend events

I want staff and students to see me smile at them in the corridor when I go past them and conferences in person again, and I hope to meet some of the wonderful online SBL community in person! For myself, I hope to finish my CMDA apprenticeship towards the end of the coming year; it has been quite a challenge to fit this in alongside everything else happening, but it has been rewarding to be able to put my learning into practice at school and I am particularly looking forward to doing my work-based project next year. Hopefully, the COVID situation will settle down, and we can return to focusing on our day jobs - and make time for things such as studying!

Anne Swift, school business manager

My hopes for the next educational year are that: 1) we can go back to physical meetings again; 2) o  ur new Year 7s experience the school as they are meant to; 3) that I manage to find a rather lovely new academic year diary between now and then!

Clare Skinner, business manager

After 18 months of restricted focus and all-consuming COVID-related priorities, I am hoping to be able to embed COVID into everyday practices so that it is just a consideration in all my colleagues and I do. I want COVID to stop being a reason not to do something and, instead, to be able to do what our school needs. I want to generate income for my school through grant applications and fundraising activities to meet the wider needs of my students, and provide things that sit outside the remit of school funding. I want to be able to plan my financial, premises and HR strategies accurately (and confidently) three years ahead to support this. I want to work with the students to achieve this. My environment group was just getting upand-running before COVID; it needs to come back so that energy expenditure can be reduced and redirected into learning resources or more learning assistants. Mostly, I want staff and students to see me smile at them in the corridor when I go past them, and be reassured that I am here for them, whatever the issue they need resolving is!

Summer 2021

11


News and views {SPOTLIGHT ON}

SPOTLIGHT ON

COVID INFECTION RATES IN SCHOOLS Infection rates in schools have been a major point of contention over the last year, but what were the real numbers?

T

he COVID-19 Schools Infection Survey aims to investigate the prevalence of current coronavirus (COVID-19) infection and COVID-19 antibodies among pupils and staff in sampled primary and secondary schools in England.

0.94% 1.22%

Primary pupils Secondary pupils

0

1

1.5

2

November 2020 *% are number of pupils who tested positive on day of survey

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Summer 2021

1.5

2

Primary pupils - the number of positive test results in round 4 from primary school pupils and staff is too small to present because of statistical disclosure criteria.

0.34%

1.48% 0.5

1

December 2020

0.89%

0

0.5

0

0.5

1

March 2021

1.5

2


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When it comes to medicines in schools who’s responsible and what’s best practice?

CASE STUD IES  ICT

CASE STUDIES  SEXTING  PAYROLL

Supporting busines excellence in school s and f inancial s and aca demies

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TURNED One SBM tells us abo merits of ut the working clos ely with heads and governor s

May 2016

STAYING SAF

E ONLIN Looking at E the program can divert s that students away from potentially harmful sites

Show m the mon e ey

THE PER FEC

T FIT Laurance Haines Prim ary School’s SBM shar es her approach to recruitm ent

GOING GLOBAL TRENDS  CATERING

CASE STUDIES  AV AND PROJECTION  SBM DEBATE

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 SBM DEBATE S  LEGAL CASE STUDIE

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GREAT LEADERS

June 2016

SUMMER TRIPS  MANAGEMENT  LEADERSHIP

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MANAGING MEDICINES

Supporting business and f inancial excellence in schools and academies

us about the One SBM tells good importance of ing succession plann

FAIRER FUNDING

A unique approach to pupil engagement HITTING with Channeling THE MARK We findSBM out how one primary Positivity’s

conflict in the workplace without putting noses out of joint

ISSUE 125

ISSU E 121

Considering 1:1 tablet provision? YourBUILDING storage andBRIDGES Expert HR advice on resolving charging solutions sorted

RE A BRIGHT FUTU

GAM future of What does the in store for edtech have educators? students and

CHANNELING POSITIVITY

MAY 2016 / ISSUE 124

E CHANGERS

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EDUCATION EXECUTIVE

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tablet How to get 1:1 spot on implementation

n bank Is your chose bang for you the most your buck?

MARCH 2016 / ISSUE 122

K ON IT YOU CAN BAN giving

JUNE 2016 / ISSUE 125

/ ISSUE 121 FEBRUARY 2016

EDUCATION EXECUTIVE

EXECUTIVE EDUCATION

AND ONE ALL FOR ONE FOR ALL

ial ess and f inanc Supporting busin and academies DREAM TEAMS HEAD IN THE GAME schools excellence in In tough financial times One SBM tells us about her February 2016

Supporting business and f inancial excellence in schools and academies

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Leadership by example {CASE STUDY}

A challenging, but rewarding, role We speak to EMMA SANDS, business manager at The Grange Primary School in Scunthorpe, about her progression from the corporate world to a school business manager in a large primary school - and the challenges she has faced along the way Tell us a little bit about yourself, and the pathway to your current role. I’m a working mum of two very energetic boys so it’s never a dull moment. My background is predominantly finance and business. I started in 2008 by doing the AAT bookkeeping qualification and I enjoyed it so much that I carried on and did the full qualification. I then achieved full membership status in 2013 and I also worked in private sector finance for several years. When my eldest was school-age, and my youngest was about two, I decided I wanted to do something different that would maybe give me a bit more time to spend with them. I didn’t know about any school business roles, I just stumbled across it and thought that it would suit. I knew it would be a challenge, but I thought I’d apply for it. At the time I had lots of other mums telling me, ‘Oh no, you’ll not get in at a school – they’re notoriously hard to get into,’ and ‘My friend’s applied for years and she’s never got an interview,’ and I just thought having that qualification the AAT, the accountancy skills matched perfectly to the role, so it didn’t deter me and I did apply for it. I was successful straightaway in one of the jobs - so I’ve continued in a school business manager role since 2014. I’ve completed both the ILM School Business Manager qualifications Level 5 and 6 and then, last year, I did the Level 7 CIPFA course. This is the second business manager role that I’m in now; it’s a larger school in a really high deprivation area, so it’s quite challenging.

*...

14

Summer 2021

Did you enjoy the Level 7 qualification? I passed my CIPFA Level 7 Strategic, Financial and Operational Leadership course, which was brilliant. If somebody wanted to understand fully about everything to do with school finance and funding, I would really recommend the course - CIPFA are great. It was a bit tricky because you have complete the Cert FRA


Leadership by example {CASE STUDY}

accountancy qualification to be able to get the Level 7 certificate. I think that’s the sticking point for most people because, unless they’ve had some previous experience with double-entry bookkeeping, it’s quite hard to get your head around it. It involves quite a bit of extra work, but it was a worthwhile course. What would you say your input is into the development and improvement of the school? The majority of my skillset is finance, but I also work closely with the headteacher, governors and other senior leaders to make sure that resources are aligned to the school’s development priorities, and that everything we do is cost-effective, financially viable and, obviously, in the best interests of the children in the end. As you know, school funding is a very challenging area for lots of school leaders, so the fact that I have the financial skills allows me to use appropriate strategic planning processes, tools and techniques to ensure we are getting the best out of our resources and our funding; that’s the main thing. I also have a big impact on the front office of the school; one of my main roles is communicating with parents and other stakeholders - basically being the face of the school sometimes.

Share the biggest professional challenge you’ve had to overcome in this role. It would be the first year that I was in post here. I moved from a federation of two small schools, where I had to do two of everything, and I thought that was difficult! I then saw this job come up and I thought, ‘Oooh! That will be interesting! That will be just one school – it might be more straightforward.’ There were split sites; they’d amalgamated a couple years previously and were still operating from an infant and junior site and had had a new school building built under the priority school building programme. When I came into post it was about six weeks before we were due to move into the new building. I was responsible for all of the snagging and building stuff and was thrown straight in at the deep-end setting up all these new contracts, maintenance agreements and schedules, which I’d had an element of that before in my

Having the financial skills allows me to use appropriate strategic planning processes

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Leadership by example {CASE STUDY}

other role, but nothing as challenging as that. I’d come from two very mellow village schools and then into this really busy, manic school, and there was only me and another member of staff at this point because I don’t think anyone had anticipated just how busy it would be with the footfall with the two schools brought together. I ended up doing about 20-plus hours a week at home, on top of my role at school, and I had the boys who were only five and three at that time, I was really-really struggling. I ended up missing some deadlines and I had to discuss it with the headteacher. At that point I realised if I’d just said something earlier about needing some more staff...I think I was just trying to make a good impression so that they wouldn’t think I couldn’t do the job; instead of just saying ‘We need some help’, I thought I could do it all, and I couldn’t. On a day-to-day basis, how do you evaluate success in your role? Achieving my goals, understanding my strengths and weaknesses, and knowing how to use this to my advantage to make me perform better - that’s success for me. ...and how do you motivate your team? Having a healthy work environment is massively important, so improving my emotional competencies in getting to know and understanding people and processes well. I know what drives and motivates me - but then you need to know what drives and motivates other people.

I ended up doing about 20-plus hours a week at home, on top of my role at school What would you say are the most important qualities a school leader needs? The most important one, I think, is to be able to be adaptable and to respond to change appropriately. The educational landscape changes so quickly all the time, and often with little notice, as we know. I think the past year has been a really good example of that. Everybody who works in this school knows that things can always change quite rapidly and you’ve just got to move with it, so I think that’s one really important quality. You also need to be resilient. There are so many things that happen all the time, and you’ve got to be able to remain calm in a crisis. I think

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I don’t think I would ever choose anywhere else to work a school leader needs to be passionate, and to lead with a vision, so that everyone wants to go along with them - and to be a good listener because that’s all you ever need to do. How does the role differ from what you had expected? Well, I expected it just to be a straightforward finance/admin role but found out pretty quickly that it was multi-faceted; there are so many different elements to the role. In my job description I’m responsible for HR, buildings, health and safety, finance – and you need to have quite a bit of knowledge about each one to be able to do them properly. You’ll also find that it differs from school-to-school so, while I would be doing all these things here, another business manager might not do the same. It’s a job that requires many hats. It’s something different every day, working in a school; I’ve even mopped toilets, cleaned up vomit and all-sorts. I don’t think I would ever choose anywhere else to work. What do you think are the biggest challenges that you’ll be facing going into the next educational year? Mental health and health and wellbeing for everybody. We’ve noticed a really big impact on our children here; they’re worried about catching up themselves, and they shouldn’t be. But it’s not just about the children; staff have really struggled, parents are struggling and I think there needs to be more of a focus on that rather than the curriculum.

COVID quickfire: BIGGEST CHALLENGE: trying to engage parents. BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: being able to implement and manage new regulations and requirements quicky. BIGGEST SURPRISE: I think that the children actually wanted to come to school. BIGGEST LESSON LEARNT: to keep making sure that we are making advances in technology at school and making sure that we continue to push ourselves.


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Leadership by example {REFLECTION ON THE ROLE}

Two decades, a thousand lessons learnt RO SMITH, school business manager at Long Furlong Primary School, tells us all about the highs and lows of her journey through school business management

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ne school, five headteachers, 21 years’ hard labour and innumerable changes. In the last part of 2020, life gave me an unexpected opportunity to reflect on my role as school business manager in a one-form entry maintained primary school. I had a stroke, followed by two months off work recuperating, and this is what came to mind. My aim, from when I was a young child, was to be a primary teacher; a family friend who had recently qualified gave me all the lesson plans from her final teaching practice, and woe

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betide my toys if they didn’t pay attention in my lessons! After A-levels I started studying a B. Ed. with history but, after two terms, I realised it wasn’t for me. I found a job as a local authority housing officer, an experience which gave me a firm grounding in dealing with difficult people (one of my delightful clients once informed me he was going to find out where I lived and burn my house down - counterproductive in many ways, as my family would then be rehoused before him). After that, I became a customer services manager for a national electronics


Leadership by example {REFLECTION ON THE ROLE}

Use the tools you have as fully as possible to get your money’s worth rental company, where I quickly learnt how strongly some people feel about their TV remote control not working (I believe this merits a #firstworldproblems mention). In 1999, when my son had started school, the world of education called out to me again – this time in the form of working in the school office one day a week processing dinner money and being responsible for the IT support of our ICT ‘suite’ as we laughingly called our nine desktop computers! Over time, this increased to three days a week and, when the office manager left, to five days - with me in the exalted position of school business manager! Twenty-one years is a long time to stay in one workplace but, with all the changes that have taken place - externally AND internally - I hope I haven’t fallen into the trap of becoming ‘stale’, using the dreaded words “Well, we’ve ALWAYS done it like this!”

BITTERSWEET There are some aspects of the job I enjoy more than others; creating a new budget is always a bittersweet challenge and I’m currently focused on cyber security and health and safety, but premises-related issues make my heart sink. I’ve checked my job description a couple of times, but have yet to find ‘On demand, remove dead birds from school site - including those which have been torn into several pieces’, but it has to be done. Pretty much the only line I draw is first aid; being in the office for most of the day I’m too easy to find, and would end up doing little other than applying wet paper towels to microscopic grazes. Being British, it is, of course, unseemly to celebrate my own successes, but I’ve passed both the CSBM and the DSBM, and am a qualified clerk to governors. Having last year completed a classical studies degree with the Open University - six years of Roman and Greek

history, literature, arts, and a wedge of Latin I’ve vowed not to take on any more study that involves deadlines and/or assessments. Pandemic lockdowns have had a silver lining to the cloud in that there’s been a vast increase in remote learning and webinars relevant to the SBM role, and learning opportunities continue to be plentiful. In-school successes? I was delighted, after a number of years of persuasion, to get LED lighting and PIRs installed throughout the school; I’m always keen to implement technology to help the management of the school run more effectively. In the last year we’ve changed the management information system and now wonder why we stuck with the old one for so long. Use the tools you have as fully as possible to get your money’s worth; if you only use your MIS to hold pupil and staff records and run the census, you need to look for a new one!

NETWORK, NETWORK One of the most valuable resources for growing in the role is networking. Until fairly recently, this involved going to a conference and, in the breaks, tentatively starting up a conversation with a stranger, hoping that (a) you didn’t get stuck with them for the rest of the day and (b) they didn’t think they were going to be stuck with YOU for the rest of the day. Thankfully, things are more civilised now – in many areas you can join a local SBM group (see here) or just contact a school local to you to form links. Social media is a fantastic source of help, support and inspiration; SBMs have an active presence on Twitter, and I’ve found it invaluable for information sharing, moanbonding and amusement. Things aren’t all sweetness and light in the SBM world; if you can’t spin a whole canteen of plates at the same time, it’s not the role for you. You might not always be popular – often, you’re

Social media is a fantastic source of help, support and inspiration

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Leadership by example {REFLECTION ON THE ROLE}

the one saying ‘No’, because of budget constraints, time constraints, rules and regs constraints. Try your best to say ‘Yes’ whenever you can; it makes the negatives slightly more palatable. Just as you won’t always be popular, there will be colleagues who rub you up the wrong way; bear this with fortitude, present a smiling front, and do your best to remember that we’re all different (keep the pins and wax dolls at home)! In my school, there are only two of us in the admin team. To get on with your immediate colleague(s) is great; I am immensely thankful to work with someone who is amazingly capable, shares my passion for solving a problem (‘Call the helpline? I don’t think so!’) and is one of the most thoughtful and generous people I know. Not everyone is so fortunate, but if you’re involved in the recruitment of team members, think carefully about the kind of person you are, the kind of person you work well with, and how you can build the strongest possible professional – and, hopefully, personal – relationship. My advice to anyone stepping into the SBM role is to start by listening and looking. There will

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Talk to everyone around you, and listen properly to what they are saying undoubtedly be some things you want to change, but don’t go charging in with all guns blazing! Talk to everyone around you, and listen properly to what they’re saying. Look carefully at the systems and processes in place, and prioritise what needs to change following consultation. The final pieces of advice aren’t mine, but those of a good friend (one of our previous heads – thanks FAT!) Firstly, ‘Choose your Waterloo’. Is it really worth arguing to the death over the type of toilet roll dispenser in the pupils’ toilets? Secondly, my friend once described herself in her first year of headship as ‘Leading from the front, but not looking over my shoulder to see if anyone was following’. Be an amazing leader…but keep an eye over your shoulder!


Leadership by example {EDEXEC LIVE}

London- 30th September 2021 Manchester- 12th October 2021

Your guide to what to expect at EdExec LIVE 2021 • Why you need to attend • What’s in it for you and your school • How to get tickets

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Leadership by example {EDEXEC LIVE}

We’re back -and better than ever!

Join us for one of the first face-to-face SBL events to happen this year – EdExec LIVE 2021!

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e are so excited to currently be planning for our 2021 events in London (30 September) and Manchester (12 October) after a year of social distancing, lockdowns, cancellations and postponements of countless events. As one of the first face-to-face, post-lockdown, SBL events, we promise to make it a reunion you won’t forget, and a day that will be worth the (very long) wait. We can’t wait to see your faces, and we’re sure you can’t wait to attend an event that isn’t marred by poor wi-fi, or interrupting family members! Following more than a year of lockdowns, and ‘stay at home’ messages, we now, more than ever, understand the value of face-toface interaction, networking and collaboration. As well as a chance to socialise and catch-up with your fellow SBLs (and we know there is a LOT to catch up on!) the day will be packed with opportunities to learn, share experiences and meet likeminded individuals - and will, as usual, be topped off with a welcome glass of wine.

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WHAT IS EDEXEC LIVE? EdExec LIVE is an event specifically aimed at school business leaders and finance directors –an interactive learning and networking experience, quite different from other events currently on offer. You’ll experience tangible, targeted, relevant information that makes a difference to your role and your school or academy. We have a stellar line-up of expert speakers confirmed, presenting on a broad range of school business management aspects. This will be our tenth EdExec LIVE year and, after a decade, they only continue to grow in popularity and success. So, what is our winning formula for a truly beneficial school business management experience and what can you expect from our upcoming events?

I have been attending EdExec LIVE for a number of years and it gets better and better!


Leadership by example {EDEXEC LIVE}

WHY ATTEND? NEW YEAR, NEW CHALLENGES, NEW CONTENT ● All-new seminars – expert-led – addressing the topics most pertinent to school business management today; finance, funding and income-generation, marketing, premises, management - and all the acronyms – CPD, HR, ICT, GDPR… ● Make it work for you – you choose your own seminars which allows you to curate your own day and create your own timetable. ● Whether workshop, presentation or panel debate, attendees are encouraged to engage with both content and speakers – after all, EdExec LIVE is all about active learning. LED BY SECTOR EXPERTS ● Speakers include sector-leading specialists, practicing school business leaders, independent consultants and commercial experts – all with proven experience in the education arena. ● An SBM is a jack of all trades; we invite speakers who can drill down into areas of your responsibility and use their expertise to help you skill-up. ● You can expect to see some popular, familiar faces, as well as new faces too!

I think EdExec LIVE offers good value both in terms of time away from school and cost, with a very high proportion of useful and interesting subjects discussed

NETWORKING OPPORTUNITIES You will be able to network with a cohort of fellow school business leaders – in their many different guises – representing the whole spectrum of schools and learning institutions. ● We have made sure that there’s plenty of time – over coffee and a delicious hot lunch – to meet and speak with colleagues and peers, continuing the conversation and forging mutually beneficial relationships. ● More exhibitors and supplier partners means more opportunities for you to see what’s on the market and to discover and compare and what fellow SBMs are using to streamline business management in their organisations. ● Plus, stay and continue the talk over postconference drinks – always a winner!

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Leadership by example {EDEXEC LIVE}

IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU After a year of focusing on everyone else, and getting your school through the pandemic, there’s never been a better time to focus on your growth which, in turn, will contribute to the improvement of your school. Think of these events as live versions of our magazine; you will be presented with a huge variety of relevant information and tangilble advice that you can actually use to your advantage back at school. Our seminars are dedicated to the issues that affect you and your role most, offering insights into topics such as benchmarking, whole-school wellbeing, confident leadership and smart budgeting.

YOUR DAY, YOUR WAY EdExec LIVE is one of the only events that allows you to build your own itinerary and select only those seminars that are of interest to you and your school, ensuring maximum value from the day – so you can be sure that your day will be filled with information and learning that will be directly relevant to you and your school’s current requirements. It’s always difficult to take a day out of the office, but the question is - can you afford to miss out on these events?

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WHAT’S IN IT FOR YOUR SCHOOL? Here at EdExec LIVE we live, breathe and write school business management; the content is tailored to deliver the information most relevant to you– and this brought to life in the live event! You know the challenges you and your school face better than anyone, so we provide you with the opportunity to learn more about the areas you need to skill up on in order to further the improvement of your school. Some things are universal to all schools at the moment - budgets are tightening, expectations are increasing and schools are being forced to do more with less. EdExec LIVE

This was my third EdExec LIVE and all have been really worthwhile, valuable and good use of a day away from work


Leadership by example {EDEXEC LIVE}

aims to bring together innovative solutions that will help you strengthen your school’s position – now and in the future. No-one knows the business of running a school better than those who do it, but we know how difficult it is for you to find the opportunity to leave the office. EdExec LIVE is well worth the effort because it’s a fantastic opportunity to network with other professionals, sharing experiences and solutions and forging longlasting relationships which will benefit you and your school both now and in the future.

ALL YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES, IN ONE PLACE We champion the worth of thought leadership and strategic working, and we also know the importance of practical advice on day-to-day issues. With sessions on CPD, human

resources and whole school planning - as well as ‘nitty gritty’ subjects like funding and policy - we’ll give you the tools you need to save your school money. You’ll find sessions covering finance, procurement, leadership by example, parents and teachers – and even financial sponsorship, CPD, innovative ICT, demonstrating impact, GDPR, staff management, academy and MAT management (financial and operational) and more…

DON’T JUST TAKE OUR WORD FOR IT One of the things we most pride ourselves on is the fantastic feedback we receive after our events each year. Find in this article just some of the positive comments we had following our 2019 events.

Fantastically organised event. Loved the convenience of being issued with a personalised itinerary, clearly setting out seminar speakers/ rooms; I only wish all events were so efficiently organised

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Leadership by example {EDEXEC LIVE}

WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT FROM THE DAY? Knowledge is the basis for good decision-making; with this in mind, we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions for you. What can I expect when I attend one of your events? EdExec LIVE is not about droning on about problems and issues we’re all well aware of – it’s about addressing those issues - speaking to peers, sharing experiences and finding solutions! EdExec LIVE facilitates discussion and provides concrete ideas and advice to benefit you, your school or academy, and your wider network. Is the content only based around school business management? School business management is the focus of our event – but its remit is broad. For us it’s not just about finance, funding and income-generation, marketing, HR and compliance – we also focus on personal development and address CPD, leadership, wellbeing and progression. How do I get involved? Flag your interest in receiving a free or discounted ticket by emailing hello@edexeclive.co.uk!

I would like to come to EdExec LIVE but I’m worried about coming alone! You won’t be alone! If you are attending an event on your own, and are a bit anxious, please let the EdExec team know so they can introduce you to some other people in the same boat and help you to feel comfortable right from the start. Can I bring members of my SBM network/group or a colleague? Absolutely!

Great job! Thank you for organising a helpful event for SBMs that have a habit of overlooking selfimprovement and development due to the business of the job

Will I be fed and watered at the event? Yes! On arrival there will be beverages and pastries to get you going, coffee breaks late morning and in the afternoon, a really great hot lunch - plus post-conference drinks. We will contact you about dietary requirements closer to the event. So, what are you waiting for? We can’t wait to welcome you back to our events and finally get to see all of your wonderful faces in person! Let’s make one of the first face-to-face SBL events the best one yet – get in touch with us now by registering your interest at hello@edexeclive. co.uk or let us know you want to roll over your ticket from previous events!

London- 30th September 2021 Manchester- 12th October 2021

BOOK TICKETS email hello@edexeclive.co.uk to reserve your place Learn more at edexeclive.co.uk 26

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Leadership by example {YOUR VIEWS}

How has the role of the SBM changed during the pandemic? A lot has changed during the pandemic. With school closures, changing rules and regulations, fluctuating pupil and staff numbers, SBMs have had a lot to contend with. How has the role changed since March 2020, and which changes will be carried forward? We asked you to find out!

Paul Burke, business manager, All Saints CE Primary School I’m a relatively new SBL. I started my role the September before COVID-19 swept the country in March. What is the normal for an SBL? For me, this is the normal. I didn’t have a full year I could compare it to. So, what did I do before the pandemic, and how was it different afterwards? When I started as an SBL I didn’t have contacts beyond my local SBL group. Over time I learnt there was a national SBL group on Twitter. I am not a social media user, so it was all new to me – resonant with the 10% braver stories being shared now. This was my world, where everything was new, and I had to jump in with both feet whether I wanted to or not. I wanted to learn and be the best version of myself.

For me, SBL twitter has been brilliant. The group are caring, passionate and determined to do what is right for the children - whilst having a laugh along the way. The help and support SBLs give each other on this platform has been great to be part of, and learn from. My first budget didn’t feel like mine, as it was based on historical information plus a % rise - but fast forward 12 months and the next budget is mine. I have learnt a lot about the school in that time, and seen areas that can be improved, and I like to think I have created a budget agile enough to support these changes. COVID-19 meant a lot of our usual contractors were furloughed, and getting quotes and an idea of costings was trickier. Now we are seeing the restrictions being lifted, and contractors

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Leadership by example {YOUR VIEWS}

coming onto site, albeit wearing PPE, which may be the one change we don’t see go away? Meetings before the pandemic were long and drawn out. Having virtual meetings has kept the meetings on point and moving along in a more timely fashion. Our governors meetings keep to the agenda and have been quicker than if we met in person; it’s greener for the environment too with no travel involved. What I love about the role is having great support teams behind me. As an example, our site manager started around the same time I did; we inherited a school where the site needed a lot of TLC, and the routine checks needed carrying out consistently. Fast forward to today, and those tough early days of trying to get things sorted are firmly in the ‘lessons learnt’ cupboard; there is now a sense of calm on site,

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I am looking forward to going to gigs again...I will get my revenge on Google and the jobs are done in a timely manner. I couldn’t have done this on my own. We all need help and support. Google Maps has had the cheek to remind me every month for the last six months or so that I have visited three places in the month – home, work, and the supermarket. Thanks Google for reminding me of the full life I lead!! NOT!! I am looking forward to going to gigs again and seeing family who live at opposite ends of the country. I will get my revenge on Google.


Leadership by example {YOUR VIEWS}

Prior to the pandemic, with my SBL finance L-plates firmly in place, I was learning how all the finance pieces fell into place. During COVID the DfE guidance was, at best, challenging and, more surprising to me, it was released to schools at the same time as the general public! Planning for the new guidance was nearly impossible as it came out on a Friday evening and it had to be implemented first thing Monday morning. So another lesson was learnt – be flexible. Grants that had never been there before needed applying for, along with the deadlines to hit. I re-shaped the budget a lot during the pandemic. I mean A LOT. I still do this. Nothing has changed. This is my new normal. I am on SBL twitter @sbm_paul, and I would love to hear from you.

Jane Percival, school business manager, Peareswood Primary School What a strange and interesting time it’s been as an SBM in the midst of this pandemic. We have become experts in risk assessment, DfE and local authority reporting, reacting quickly to bubble closures, and keeping parents informed. We have had to become more knowledgeable in every aspect of school life. The SBM team within the trust really gelled as a solid force and here we are, coming out the other end - still promoting the one-way system and offering LFTs! When the school first closed, and we went on a rota system, I suddenly found myself working at a different school; this meant new faces, new children, new building and cake! This is where you realise the versatility of your skills, and I gained so much from the experience. As we took turns in being in school and working from home, I became an expert in online communication platforms like Teams, which really changed school life. We could now meet online, and have catch up with our own teams. We could stay in touch, support each other, and it was lovely how we all took care of each other. I think, as a whole team, we have come out of this closer than before.

Peter Sircar, director finance and operations, The London Oratory School SBLs were sailing through the predictable landscape when the pandemic suddenly struck and disrupted education globally. It shook the very foundations of education management. For a period, there was complete chaos; it was a perfect storm that needed to be dealt with by an unprepared profession. However, the SBLs quickly re-grouped to deal with this unprecedented challenge. The key changes to the role included the following: Focus on risk management: SBLs now had to be focused on risk management aspects of the role. This included risk assessments, social distancing, intensive cleaning, ventilation, disinfection, signage etcetera.

The pandemic has changed the SBM’s role and led to innovative ways of working Managing distributed teams: SBLs have had to learn to manage staff teams working from different locations. They have had to swiftly learn to empathise and knit the staff together using innovative digital communication means. Technological changes: The pandemic required swift implementation of a range of cloud-based remote learning and working solutions. SBLs also learnt to quickly improve their cyber security understanding and to deal with the emerging wave of cyber fraud and ransomware threats. Well-being support: In this environment the SBLs had to learn to look after staff mental health and well-being needs. The pandemic has changed the SBM’s role and led to innovative ways of working. In this environment it is essential for the profession to develop its crisis and change management skills.

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Leadership by example {YOUR VIEWS}

Alison Dean, school business manager, Moorlands Primary School ‘Adapt and change’ is a slogan for every SBL but seems to have been the daily mantra since March 2020. The pandemic has proved that collaboration, communication and challenge are key. Collaboration with colleagues has reached new heights. Everyone, whatever level across school, has pitched in to problem-solve and just ‘make things work’; we’re a much better, more cohesive team for it. The tremendous support network of local SBLs has been invaluable, and there’s a firm commitment to maintaining the help and advice we can offer each other moving forward.   The impact of embracing new technology has been pivotal. There was no choice – we had to implement new ways of working. Not normally my role, confidently promoting effective new ICT to colleagues, parents and other stakeholders was scary and challenging, but incredibly worthwhile. It’s also prompted a fundamental overhaul of business functions, with great results.   Reviewing, questioning, seeking alternatives in order to actively make

Collaboration with colleagues has reached new heights improvement is the new norm. No longer mired in routine, and held back by tradition, there is empowerment and support to propose and make changes in a new ‘anything is possible’ organisational culture. The pandemic has been, and continues to be, tough for many of us. However, the challenge of working throughout to champion excellent, high quality provision for our pupils remains a privilege.

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Marie Lane, school business manager, St Edward’s School, Poole There have been many unexpected challenges during the pandemic which have required school business managers’ rapid responses from organising testing and track and trace, to catering in bubbles and working remotely. For me, as school business manager responding to shielding and homeworking, the highlight of the school’s pandemic response has been how the support teams have pulled together and stepped up a level to meet so many challenges. This is something we will definitely be building on, going forward. Two weeks of focused testing meant we had to build a cross-department team and this was a great team building project with people from different groups working together, and with parents and governors and using skills even they didn’t know they had! We are now looking at ways of harnessing this flexibility into ‘business as usual’ by introducing an inter-departmental development programme. Pandemic team-working has not only been internal; with all the changing COVID rules, the local SBM network has really shown its worth. It has been extremely useful for sharing knowledge, and has been a supportive resource for busy business managers. Although we have not been able to meet, we have shared many questions over email, maintaining a strong network which will certainly carry on when the pandemic is a mere memory.


Manchester- 12th October 2021 London- 30th September 2021

GET YOUR DIARIES OUT!

We’re back with dates for our 2021 events! It’s been a tough 12 months, with more challenges to come – so we thought we would bring a little slice of (professional) happiness for us all to look forward to...! Get ahead of the professional curve, network and re-charge by joining us at EdExec LIVE – our leading school business management conference

SAVE THE DATE!

MANCHESTER - 12TH OCTOBER 2021 LONDON - 30TH SEPTEMBER 2021 email hello@edexeclive.co.uk to reserve your place Learn more at edexeclive.co.uk


Management {WORKING SBM}

Sharing strength (and magical forces) The WORKING SBM discusses which magical tools SBMs can use to help make their lives a fairytale

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n my role as a school business manager (SBM) I have often wished I could take colleagues by the hands and, with our eyes closed, open a channel which enables the flow of some of my strength and resilience into them. Wouldn’t it be amazing to be able to use a magical force that gets them over the hump of whatever is causing their stress or anxiety, injecting a shot of confidence and calm so they can focus on their challenges and build back their own vigour? Unfortunately, I’m not physically or magically able to make that transfer of resilience. I can use words, I can reallocate work, I can provide cover, I can put up wellbeing posters - but only they themselves can find that elusive work-life balance which can so easily be thrown off kilter. Of course, my own strength and confidence is not unlimited. I have found occasions, especially recently, when I have been running near to empty on energy and positivity. I don’t think it is unusual to become overwhelmed by the role we perform, and we all need every tool in our workshop to keep that to-do list ticking over, and the smiles on our face. With a mind to my own work-life balance, and to take my mind off lockdowns, mass testing, risk assessment (and yet another jigsaw), my son and I embarked on a new fantasy roleplaying game earlier this year. We didn’t get far in the game itself, and we had more fun arranging the hundreds of cards and pieces into little boxes, and painting the little plastic characters, than we did trying to decipher the rules and get through the first room without being slaughtered! My little character was called Quatryl

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Tinkerer and - her inability to stay alive notwithstanding - she got me thinking about magical tools an SBM could use to pass through the Portal of Job-done at the end of the day! THE MANUAL OF TRUTH Often as conflicting as a fantasy role-play game rule book, our policies, manuals, assessments, acronyms and guidance can be mind-blowing. Make sure you take someone with you who can help you cut through the jargon of the guide and play the game properly. THE SPADE OF CONFIDENCE That old saying ‘call a spade a spade’ is one to remember; I imbibe my character with honesty to say what they think. Every opinion is valuable, and you can use a spade kindly, it doesn’t have to be blunt! Confidence is key for an SBM, and always keep in mind that your leader (as much as they may think it) has no need of a ‘yes man’.

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Quatryl Tin kerer


Management {WORKING SBM}

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THE SPANNER OF OVERLAP Imagine that huge project or task ahead of you is a long bolt. Line up the nut and start wielding your spanner, one turn at a time, slowly and with purpose, until the nut is tight. THE GOGGLES OF PROTECTION We’re all so used to PPE now, but protecting yourself is the first priority. The fantasy character who doesn’t carry protection potions is not going to last long, and an SBM on their knees is no good to anyone. Sleep, exercise, healthy eating, a hobby - taking time for you - will all result in more effectiveness in your role. THE WALKIE-TALKIE OF COLLABORATION This is, perhaps, the most vital tool in every SBM’s fantasy rucksack. We can’t do this on our own and we shouldn’t try. Use the support characters around you. Everyone has experience to share (including you) and there is little point in struggling to get through that guarded doorway if someone else knows the secret passage! As SBMs, one thing we must be good at is getting external support. We look to auditors, HR, and energy procurement services; we buy in our DPO, catering and cleaning…the list goes on and on. In conversation with one of my governors, who is also a school’s auditor, last week we came to an agreement that the role of an SBM in a single unit academy (SUA) is a really tough one. How do you keep up with the constantly changing demands? How do you carry the weight of responsibility? How do you keep going, day after day, in that relentless pursuit of ‘value for money’, ‘budgetary efficiency’ and ‘lean operations’? At last, in my region at least, it feels like

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As SBMS, one thing we must be good at is getting external support

We’re all so used to PPE now, but protecting yourself is the first priority the bad press of the multi-academy trust is beginning to lift, and SBM’s are reaping the benefits of joining forces to work with likeminded schools - recognising best practice and the operational efficiencies that come with sharing strengths. I wouldn’t hesitate to advise every SUA SBM, or maintained SBM, to encourage their leadership team to investigate the newly introduced ways of enabling schools to work together. In my view there will, inevitably, come a time when the decision is taken out of our hands. I know I would much rather have had chance to look about and assess the challenges in the room before I am forced through by something coming up behind me! So, our fantasy game, which came in a massive and heavy box, is now looking for a new home. We realised that we just can’t understand it on our own and we had picked a game that required a significant time commitment and someone who knows what they are doing! I also realised that I’m not particularly good at painting little plastic characters! Jigsaw anyone?

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 {SURVEY RESULTS}

Survey reveals that MIS could offer more to schools

EdExec, in collaboration with IRIS, set out to explore your views on school MIS. The results offer some powerful insights into the current state of school management information systems - and reveals some important next steps needed to make systems future fit

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urvey respondents for this research were evolution in what MIS software can do for schools. The almost exclusively made up of school leaders details reveal long-held demands and limitations that and school business managers. The survey need to be addressed for the schools of the future. posed a series of questions intended to uncover the challenges currently faced by CHALLENGES IN EDUCATION schools and MATs – the problems experienced with TIME AND MONEY MIS today – and what future-fit MIS software would One-in five (21%) respondents noted that lack of time look like and deliver. The major themes which emerged for other staff members to complete tasks impacted the revolved around the demands of time and funding, as ability of school leaders to their jobs; their use of data is to be expected in modern education settings; however, is only as effective as the source and if teachers and other interesting threads in relation to reporting, and other colleagues lack the time to input and manage data the demands of data reporting and analysis, were also effectively there is a serious flaw in the process. clear to see. Funding was another universal theme identified With money and time scarce in education, among the most significant challenges faced by schools; technology needs to deliver on many levels. When it was listed by 29% of respondents as a major difficulty searching for the best product, school leaders will be facing schools. The DfE’s call for the purchase of MIS looking for something that integrates packages that software that provides value for money - rather than provide for all operational needs. This research shows simply being the cheapest - is likely to be undermined by that a future-fit MIS will need to assist schools in the state of school budgets. Indeed, 87% of respondents registering students and mapping attendance, agreed (31%) or strongly agreed (56%) that as well as assisting in ensuring that they were expected to do more with safeguarding is front and centre in all less funding and fewer resources. that they do. In short, this research When asked about the barriers to the of respondents demonstrates that future-fit MIS introduction of new technology, agreed that they software needs to seamlessly address the funding was by far the most were expected to key pressures facing different groups of often cited, with 77% of do more with less colleagues in schools and MATs. respondents saying this The headline from this survey is was the first and second funding that there is a demand for change and most limiting factor.

87%

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Management {SURVEY RESULTS}

42%

of respondents said their current system lacked effectiveness

WORKLOAD GAPS IN PROVISION The burden of a heavy workload in education is another The survey identified gaps in current school ongoing problem. When asked what issue contributed technological capabilities. For instance, 44% to increasing workload, school data analysis was by far of respondents did not have apps for teachers the most prominent response, with 43% of respondents to capture work and assessment, only 26% of noting this as the most significant issue they faced; no respondents have an online payments platform, and just fewer than 89% placed it within their top three issues. 39% had the capacity for parents to view student data. A Connecting this school issue with best practice in future-fit MIS would need these capabilities – probably as business suggests that some sort of data analysis modules or application programming interfaces – so that automation would significantly benefit all data can be integrated into one repository. school leaders and business managers. Limiting response to student welfare There is a correlation between the Student welfare has always been a high demand for cloud technology and significant function of MIS software in of respondents the concerns over time required by schools, and it was concerning to see reported having others to complete the work needed for that 42% of respondents stated that their successful data management. If school current system lacked effectiveness in cloud-based IT business managers and leaders are to use pastoral matters such as attendance and in place data to its full potential, other colleagues behaviour – although only 11% went so far as need the flexibility to upload and manage data to say that their system was actually ‘ineffective’. where and when they do their administrative work. Reporting and moving information (63%) and the IMPLEMENTATION demands of data protection and GDPR (71%) also featured The challenge for MIS developers is to overcome the highly in the top three issues contributing to workload. problems of compatibility with existing systems; 45% of While the security of MIS software is a given, these results respondents saw this as one of the top two barriers to also suggest the need for centralised reporting; the introducing new technology into their schools, alongside bringing together of applications for data management and funding issues - add in the 26% of respondents who felt reporting purposes would significantly reduce workload in there was insufficient time for training staff in the use of schools. new technology, and the problem of creating a product which offers value for money - and the need for a more ATTITUDES TO INNOVATION comprehensive support package, which includes effective Interestingly, 76% of respondents were satisfied (62%) or software integration, is evident. very satisfied (14%) with the updating and modernising To conclude, this research reconfirmed that schools of operations and administration within their schools or are complex organisations and need secure access to MATs. It appears that, while school business managers information as and when necessary to help with the and leaders feel limited by the software and procedures full range of their activities - from writing reports to they are working with, there is a willingness, and tracking attendance, and more - all from a single, structures in place, to evolve to new technological integrated, platform. solutions. This finding suggests that MIS software School business managers and leaders have a providers can be ambitious in developing products strong enough vision to appreciate that current of respondents within the limitations of the budgeting school management systems placed workload issues identified. are fragmented, and they in their top More good news is that schools are clear in their demands three issues already have the technological for greater compatibility, infrastructure to deal with future streamlined processed and advances in MIS software; 75% of improved collaboration. respondents reported having cloudTo learn more about our research based IT in place, 84% had invested findings download the report today in high-speed internet and wi-fi, and read the white paper in full. and 92% of schools already have a management information system – with two-thirds currently opting for SIMs from Capita.

75%

89%

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News and views {IT NEWS}

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

Can Minecraft really help you build a career? As reported by BBC News, Minecraft is a mainstay in children’s leisure time - but now it could even help them to find a career. CareersCraft, a new Minecraft world launched by Careers Wales, aims to help children aged between eight and 13 explore and develop their career skills and knowledge. It has six zones based on landmarks, including the Senedd, Big

@ryanestrada: I gave my Zoom students an assignment; leave the room for 5 minutes, do something fun, come back, and tell us about it. Most did walks, books, youtube, phone games. Not Peter. Peter sat at a table and thought about trees

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Pit, the Coal Exchange and Caernarfon Castle. Each zone is linked to an area of learning in the new Welsh curriculum. It is available for anyone to download, but an education edition is available to all Welsh schools - accompanied by lesson plans for teachers. Players explore the areas and complete challenges and activities as they go, learning about careers in specific

Stone pupils shortlisted in UKwide inventor competition Two teams from Walton Priory Middle School in Stone will be connected to an expert mentor to create prototypes of their concepts, In Your Area has reported. Two teams of school children in Stone are in the running to win a £20,000 prize for young inventors. The Amazon Longitude Explorer Prize, delivered by Nesta Challenges, has unveiled a finalist shortlist of 40 inspirational projects created by teams of 11-16 year-olds – and the first prize is an impressive £20,000. The competition pairs STEM knowledge with entrepreneurial skills and calls on young people to develop innovative ‘tech for good’ solutions to help solve society’s biggest issues. Two of the shortlisted teams are from Walton Priory Middle School in Stone, Staffordshire; their striking projects secured them places on the shortlist. ‘A to Befriend’ is a car-sharing and roadpricing app that encourages people to share their electric car journeys with elderly people, while ‘Super-Market’ is an augmented reality visor that enables shoppers to view the prices of supermarket items via a heads-up display.

sectors and industries in Wales, finding out more about their own strengths and interests as they play. Maggie, a pupil at Risca Comprehensive School in Caerphilly, said: “It was a fun experience and great to discover and explore different careers through Minecraft.” Another pupil, Ferne, added: “It made me think about my future, but in a fun way.”


News and views {IT NEWS}

Teachers fear pupils without internet at home are becoming socially excluded and falling far behind Many of the half a million pupils across the UK who don’t have internet at home are becoming socially excluded from their classmates and are falling far behind in their school work, teachers have warned. An online YouGov survey of primary and secondary school teachers across the UK, commissioned by edtech firm Kajeet, found that almost a third of teachers surveyed (31%) think that lack of internet access over the last year has led their pupils to be socially isolated as children lead more of their lives online. Some 64% of teachers surveyed told the pollsters that pupils without internet access at home have not progressed nearly as well in their learning, while 31% say that this has led to social exclusion. More than a quarter (28%) say that having no internet access has been detrimental to pupils’ mental health and made them lack confidence (27%). At least 550,000 children across the UK have no internet access at home, while more than 910,000 can only get onto the internet through a parent’s ‘phone, according to the latest figures from the communications regulator Ofcom*. It is now a legal requirement for schools to provide ‘remote education’ during the pandemic – April’s 2021 Ofsted updated inspection handbook states that a remote learning provision is now required by all schools. However, many schools now set

@giselefernando: My Microsoft Teams status really needs to stop putting me on blast the moment I step away from my computer

homework that needs to be completed or researched online and pupils without wifi, a monthly broadband connection or a device are increasingly left behind. More than a quarter of teachers surveyed - 27% - are particularly concerned about the issue of pupils without internet access at home for the coming year, the survey found. Shabaz Sayed, assistant headteacher at St Mary Magdalene Academy in London, said: “It is so important for us to ensure that all our students have access to the same resources, and the same level of support making sure every one of our students can access great education. We would not be fulfilling our role as educators if students were left behind’.

Everton FC’s official charity launches football-themed technology initiative Charity Today has reported that Everton in the Community has launched an innovative education STEAM programme in schools across Merseyside. The programme combines football with robots to help schools engage and inspire young people from disadvantaged areas, transforming the way children learn about technology. The charity’s new, E-STEAM, programme will deliver fun and imaginative learning to around 2,000 children aged five-to-16 in 63 schools across the Liverpool City Region, helping them to aspire to careers in science, technology, engineering, arts and maths (STEAM). The programme will see Everton in the Community tutors using Sphero’s new sports-themed coding solution, Sphero Sports, which uses Sphero Bolt programmable robots and football pitch themed mats to transform the way that children learn, create and invent through coding, science, music and the arts. The project aims to reduce the education inequality gap that exists in STEAM topics for children from disadvantaged communities, which has been exacerbated by school closures during the pandemic.

@RogersHistory: When you’ve had a god awful day, what do you say to yourself to keep going?

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ICT matters {IMPROVING OUTCOMES}

Measuring the effectiveness edtech in improving outcomes

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eports from Ofsted Remote Education Research, February 2021, and the Sutton Trust, Learning in Lockdown, January 2021, show that there is a wide variance across schools as to how they managed in lockdown - perhaps not surprising, as there does not seem to be a national standard measurement, more a set of individual surveys asking ‘…and how was it for you?’ RightICT, as it says in the name, helps school leaders to choose the technology (ICT) that is appropriate (Right) for them. We see all

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ROYDEN GOTHELF, RightICT, discusses how the use of edtech and technology in schools has changed over the last year

the time the challenges faced by those schools with tight or deficit budgets, and the growth in those which have available funds. The Sutton Trust report says the pandemic ‘exposed chronic levels of poverty and disadvantage’. Whatever your school’s situation or experience, these reports show that the most successful schools embed the use of IT in all aspects of the school. Your school development plan needs to be explicit on where technology is being used to improve outcomes for everyone and, remember, you don’t need the latest and most expensive IT solution.


ICT matters {IMPROVING OUTCOMES}

Extract of some of the key findings from the Sutton Trust Report DEVICES ● Approximately 19% of parents, overall, report that their children do NOT have access to a sufficient number of devices suitable for their online learning; however this is 35% for households with the lowest incomes, and 11% in households with the highest. REMOTE LEARNING ● School provision for online learning has changed radically since the beginning of the first lockdown. Over half (54%) of teachers are now using online live lessons, compared to just four per cent in March 2020.

Anecdotal findings from secondary, infant and primary teachers we work with show that keeping the pupil in a routine has been good, but being able to teach has been very challenging.

HOW WAS/IS IT FOR YOU? That change for school IT managers and school business managers from doing their utmost to provide internet and computers to staff, making sure email and MIS is working, sorting out the overhead projectors and printers, has been something very different; keeping staff and students in many locations connected safely was a monumental challenge. Every school IT technician knows that it is a labour of love keeping the onsite school network running. During lockdown the challenge moved to the pupil or teacher to get the laptop or smart ‘phone fit for remote lessons with reliable connectivity. For some, that connectivity is just not reliable enough for online lessons. The anecdotal research I’ve conducted highlights that, where the online connectivity has been put in place, it has worked well for both pupil and teacher, in that it has at least enabled communication in a one-to-many setting and, thankfully, in many cases the teacher has been

However, disparities remain. 86% of private schools are using online live lessons, compared to 50% in state schools - a gap which has widened since the first lockdown.

THE ATTAINMENT GAPS ● The impact of the pandemic on learning continues to be unevenly felt, with over half (55%) of teachers at the least affluent state schools reporting a lower than normal standard of work returned by pupils since the shutdown, compared to 41% at the most affluent state schools, and 30% at private schools.

able to teach, and the pupil to learn. Our experience with secondary schools shows that those who were early adopters of digital platforms such as Google, Microsoft, Apple, etc., had a distinct advantage, as staff, students and teachers had been trained in how to use them and to get the safeguarding settings correct. A digital platform, at its most basic, is a form of communication device to take a register, broadcast an assembly, send and receive homework. These are valuable benefits in keeping a dialogue between student and school but, in terms of learning, it depends on the curriculum content and the ability to teach the individual. Value can also be realised by the use of the less expensive - and often free - digital learning, for example, the BBC, or just remote learning without that online digital communication.

It is a labour of love keeping the onsite school network running

ONE LAST THOUGHT For those who did get new equipment, review your plans now you are back in school. Is the teacher going to use the laptop you gave them, or the desktop in the classroom? You may have a lot of spare computers, or need connectors for the laptops to the smart board. What is the pupil expected to do with the computer you gave them, and who do they turn to if it breaks!

About the authour Royden Gothelf - Strategic IT planning, reducing costs, improving education for all. Edtech business owner/mentor/ project manager, enabling effective the use of technology in transforming education, teaching and administration. Royden writes about it, talks about it and works with academies, schools and local authorities to successfully deliver it - saving costs and improving outcomes every time! www.rightict. com twitter @rightict e:royden@rightict.com.

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ICT matters {CASE STUDY}

EDTECH: an enabler for transformation We speak to MARK OSBORNE, director of ICT and communications at Northern Education Trust, about the safeguarding technology that won the trust a BETT award, and how technology has supported senior leaders to transform the trust’s outcomes Tell us a bit about your trust, and your role there. We’re a large multi-academy trust made up of 21 academies - 11 secondaries and 10 primaries. The academies are located quite widely across the north of England; we’ve got academies that stretch from Bolton, across through Halifax and Keighley, across to Barnsley and then up through Stockton, Redcar, Cleveland and some in Newcastle and all the way up to Blyth and Northumberland. We currently have 13,000 students and almost 2,000 members of staff, meaning we are one of the largest multiacademy trust in the north of England. I’m director of ICT and communications, so I’m responsible for IT and educational technology across the trust. Why do you think it’s important to use technology in education? We have tried to empower both students and teachers to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by technology, from improving safeguarding to being an enabler of transformation. Ultimately, it’s to improve outcomes for the children and young people in

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our trust. I think all too often in the past IT has been seen as a barrier; we very much see it as a tool to improve things. You mentioned using technology to improve safeguarding. What did this entail? We implemented a trust-wide digital monitoring system to help safeguard our students online. We were one of the earliest adopters of a technology called Smoothwall Monitor, and have partnered closely with Smoothwall to develop the system to ensure all of the children in our trust stay safe online. We have a lot of accountability and responsibility when it comes to online safeguarding. We are very keen, and always go above being compliant with children’s safety in education so, for us, it’s been really successful and it’s been a huge change for the trust. The implementation of the system resulted in us winning a BETT award. How did you implement the system? I guess one of the advantages for us is that we’re quite a large, successful, multi-academy trust which means we have sufficient resource centrally to be able to implement a trust-wide solution that


ICT matters {CASE STUDY}

We implemented a trust-wide digital monitoring system to help safeguard our students online probably would otherwise have been out of reach for some of our smaller academies. I joined the trust late in December 2017, shortly after the new CEO was appointed. With the support of the trustees, the new CEO had started a phase of rapid transformation across the trust, and when I was appointed - there were a lot of managed IT services. Some schools had one managed service with certain systems, and others were run by an IT manager with different systems. So, it was very clear from the start that we needed to consolidate all that and have one, trust-wide, system that gave us oversight of what was going on in terms of online safety across the trust. This then led us to working quite closely with the online Safer Internet Centre and Smoothwall, to explore what was out there. At the time, in early 2018, they’d just appointed a new CO, a gentleman called Georg Ell, which was quite fortuitous to us because they were developing that product quite heavily. So, we managed to get in at a time with them where we could influence the development of the product as well; the system we were getting was heavily influenced by what we wanted as a large, multi-academy trust, and I guess that’s where it all started. So, how does the technology work in action? The technology itself sits on all devices across the trust no matter whose device it is, whether that be a trustee, a governor, the CEO, a teacher or a student. The software application sits on every device and, basically, monitors usage, keystrokes, what the child is searching for - and then, if it picks anything up, it will take a screenshot of what’s going on and report that centrally. There is also a human safeguarding team that filters out all the false positives as well, so we’re seeing exactly what we need to see at that point. If it’s what we call a ’category five alert’ - which is a more serious alert - someone will pick up the telephone to the principal. For example, you might find something’s happening in a classroom and, before the student leaves the classroom, they’ll be met by a member of staff. If there are concerns with a student, you can build up their profile as you can see what’s happened historically, which will help with deciding what

interventions to take, if needed. What did winning the BETT award for implementing this technology mean to you? It was amazing. I guess it gave all of the team at the trust the recognition that I think staff deserved for all the hard work they’d put in. It was a massive project, as you can imagine over 21 academies and 14,000 – 15,000 users; it just gave us that recognition that, actually, we’re making an impact. It was really good because the morning after the award ceremony I was invited to meet Lord Agnew, who was the academies minister at the time, and he personally congratulated us on the award, but was also really complementary around what the trust had done as a whole in terms of school improvement. All our primary schools are now good or outstanding, and we also have some of the highest performing and most improved secondary schools in the country, so it’s really good to get that sort of feedback from someone who was the minister in charge of academies at one time. I guess it’s just testimony to the hard work that everyone’s put in across the trust, not just with technology. How would you say using technology impacts your trust on a day-to-day basis? Technology has very much become an enabler of transformation, rather than something that’s constraining school improvement. We use technology to help us enable transformation, help support school improvement, improving outcomes for students whether that be through safeguarding or the delivery of online lessons, etc. What do you think is the biggest barrier to other schools using technology to the level that your trust has? I think for a lot of smaller or standalone schools it’s been a financial barrier - the ability to be able to afford the specialist IT staff or specialist IT leaders that they need to improve their IT infrastructure, or staff to support them to make better use of technology. For us in our trust we use curriculum-led financial planning, so the finances are led by the curriculum, which reduces those barriers for us. If you have leadership and management that’s good or outstanding, the support of the executive team, the trustees and the governors, you can successfully use technology to a greater level. If that support is lacking, it could act as a barrier What advice would you give to other schools or trusts which might be reading this and thinking that this is something they might want to do? Always make sure that, whatever you’re doing, it’s linked to improving the outcomes or welfare

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ICT matters {CASE STUDY}

COVID quickfire:

of students. Don’t just do it for the sake of doing, and don’t just do it because the school next-door are doing it; it has to be something that is going to have a tangible impact on the outcomes of the students in that school or trust. Get the educationalists involved. I’m a director of IT but I’m not a teacher - I’m not an educationalist as such. Get the specialists involved and, again, it’s part of our wider vision, but make sure that decision-making is drive entirely by what’s best for the students. As I said before, our development is always curriculumled, and that’s one of the main reasons why, in my opinion, we’re so successful. Due to the pandemic the use of edtech and technology for education has grown more than ever. What other technologies have you implemented in the last year? It’s obviously been a bit of a whirlwind! In terms of technology we’ve added over 5,000 extra student laptops, all of which we used during lockdown; every single digitally-vulnerable student, and every vulnerable student, has access to a device now. We invested heavily in new wifi infrastructure for when those devices came back - we’ve increased the bandwidth and connectivity in the schools ten-fold. We’ve incorporated Google Classroom even more into the curriculum, especially in the primary phase. We’ve obviously now got our

Make sure that, whatever you’re doing, it’s linked to improving the outcomes or welfare of students

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BIGGEST CHALLENGE: we moved 15,000 students overnight to remote learning; that was a massive challenge. BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT: bridging the digital divide – making sure that all of our vulnerable students, digitally vulnerable or not, have access to a device. BIGGEST SURPRISE: how quickly everyone embraced the use of technology during the lockdown. It’s usually very hard to achieve change, especially in IT; it can be difficult or not well-received. I guess the biggest surprise was just how quickly everyone embraced it. It was unbelievable. BIGGEST LESSON LEARNT: probably how COVID created opportunities, especially in relation to education technology. It’s a lesson learnt for me that we don’t underestimate how opportunities can come from adversity.

I was invited to meet the academies minister...and he personally congratulated us on the award remote learning offer as well, which has been really successful. There’s been a lot of change in a very short space of time. How do you think that technology can aid in the catch-up of pupils? The pandemic has shown us all how flexible and versatile technology can be. In our remote learning I thought it was unbelievable; it was really successful in uptake, and the levels of engagement far exceeded my expectations. It was unbelievable! To give you an example, we have online masterclasses now which are catchup sessions for students across the trust. We use technology to deliver these masterclasses, which are run by subject specialists. We have directors of subjects that, historically, wouldn’t have been able to put themselves in 11 secondary schools at once but now, through technology, we can. We have 100, 200, 250 students coming along, voluntarily, to these online masterclass catch-up sessions, to sit with a maths expert, or a humanities expert - and that’s regardless of their location - and we’re already starting to see a positive impact. So, if we have more initiatives like this, where we can utilise technology, and try to get more subject specialists in front of those students, then it can only be a positive thing. I’m sure we will see a lot more of that, moving forward.


Live it {60 SECONDS}

60 seconds with We speak to NICKY GILLHESPY, chief operating officer at LEO Academy Trust, about Barbies, impressive achievements and omelette competitions! What led you to your current role? I think I was in the right place at the right time! I had been SBM at Cheam Fields Primary School for over 10 years when the school joined the LEO Academy Trust and I was ready for a bigger challenge.

Something unusual or interesting about yourself? Nicky Gillhespy, chief operating officer at LEO Academy Trust,

I am the longest serving SBL in my local area - 30 years this May! My job has seen me through the best and worst of times and has been the stability in my life. I was a single mum for most of my two children’s school years - my children are the light of my life and I am extremely proud of them. They both graduated from university and I now have a grandchild too.

Favourite aspect of being an SBM Obviously, the variety, with no two days ever being the same but, in all honesty, being able to feel that I have personally made a difference. I ran a Barbie Club one year at school which the children who are now in Year 6 still talk about! We learnt lessons playing with the Barbie (and Ken) dolls like ‘sharing is caring’ and ‘to have a good friend you need to be a good friend’ and the club was as popular with boys as it was girls. I became known as ‘the Barbie lady’, which I took as a compliment.

Greatest professional achievement? In my time as an SBL I have been a NASBM trustee and the NAHT SBL representative on the executive council. I am an ISBL fellow, and was primary SBM of the year back in 2012! In my current role I have enjoyed transferring seven school kitchens into one, in-house, catering service, and seeing the difference that providing healthy food which the children enjoy eating can make.

Where do you take inspiration from both work and life-wise? My mum passed away in 2003 after a short fight with cancer. That made me realise that life is precious, and I wanted to make the most of it. At my mum’s funeral the overwhelming message from her friends was what a lovely lady she was, with strong morals and a kind heart, and I really just want to be remembered in the same way. I always try to help others when I can, but I will never allow my morals to be compromised - I left one job in the past for this reason. I am not afraid to speak out, especially to help another person who needs support, even if it makes me unpopular.

I became known as ‘the Barbie lady’

If there was one thing you could change about your job what would it be? Unfortunately, the SBL profession is still not recognised by some other education professionals as being equal to other school leaders. Until the salary situation is sorted out this will always be the case, in my opinion.

Funniest SBM moment you’d care to share? My funniest - and probably happiest - memories unfortunately do not involve children’s education, which would probably be the politically correct answer to this question. Mine all involve social SBM events and, in particular, the NASBM annual conferences of the by-gone years - anyone who attended will have a secret smile at this answer and know what I mean! Oh, and by the way, I won the omelette challenge one year for those who remember that being a thing. 

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ICT matters {TECHNO GEEK}

Techno Geek

Our survey said... SIMON HEPBURN, founder of Marketing Advice for Schools and a keen user of online surveys, tells us why online surveys are a useful tool for schools

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ll schools will have become used to surveys in recent years – not least because of the introduction of Ofsted’s Parent View questionnaire in 2011. However, there are many other reasons for schools to use surveys, and the number of tools you can use, and their sophistication, is increasing. This article suggests some ways schools can try these out!

WHY SHOULD SCHOOLS CONDUCT SURVEYS? Among the reasons schools can use online surveys are... ● T  o quickly gather information from parents – the COVID pandemic threw up situations where schools needed to find out quickly whether parents were eligible for ‘key worker’ places for their children, or had carried out tests at home

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– and surveys proved a lot faster than letters or telephone calls in doing this. F or teaching purposes – as a part-time teacher I’ve written surveys that ask my students to feedback which topics they are confident (or less confident) about – and they’re also great for low-stakes quizzing if you have to teach remotely. T o explore potential changes in the school, such as introducing wrap-around care, and see what parents and other stakeholders think of them. F or marketing purposes – to find out how the school is perceived, and which areas are seen as strengths and areas for improvement. T o prepare parents for inspection – the most cynical use of surveys, but there is an argument that familiarising parents with how to fill them in will help improve the return in Parent View and tools used by other inspection bodies.


ICT Matters {TECHNO GEEK}

WHAT CAN YOU USE? Free survey tools – as most schools are now using either Google Classroom or Microsoft Teams, their survey tools (both called Forms, confusingly) are excellent places to start. They have a simple selection of question types and can be easily shared with thousands of people. The downside of both is that you can’t customise the appearance of the polls very much, and they lack the complex options of the alternatives below. ● ‘ TRY BEFORE YOU BUY’ TOOLS - one example is Survey Monkey, the market leader in online surveys. It has a limited free plan which will allow you to try more advanced features such as their templates and question bank. Choosing a paid for education plan will let you carry out a meaningful survey, as well as offering additional features such as A/B testing, where different participants get different questions; a similar alternative that many schools are using is Jotform. ● M  ORE ADVANCED TOOLS - Typeform is a good example of an ‘industrial-strength’ survey tool. I’ve used it recently to create complex surveys that take respondents in different directions, depending on their answers; it allows multiple creators to work together. ● P  APER - even though it might not seem to make sense in an article about online surveys, it can be easy to print off copies and use them to increase take-up - for example, some schools will hand out surveys at parents’ evenings or open events.

The advantage of digital surveys is that links can be shared HOW DO YOU USE THEM? Whichever tool you use, here are some key principles to follow: KEEP THEM SHORT – every additional question is an opportunity for a participant to give up on the survey. If you have a large group that you can survey, consider splitting your survey into two and asking different sub-sets about different issues BE CAREFUL WITH GDPR RULES – you need to show a ‘lawful basis’ for using personal information to either conduct a survey or to collect and use information from it. Ask for help from your data protection officer if you are concerned. SHARE SURVEY LINKS IN MULTIPLE WAYS – the advantage of digital surveys is that links can be shared via social media, apps such as ClassDojo, or as links in newsletters as well as being sent directly to participants. This will improve feedback and can also help you access people who prefer these different forms of communication. REPEAT SURVEYS OVER TIME – the first time you carry out a survey you might only be able to use it as a benchmark. As you move forward, and implement changes, surveys can help you see how opinions and perceptions are changing.

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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!

Shake your hardboiled eggs. The key to making sure your egg’s yolk is cooked all the way through is shaking it when it’s done. When it feels like a rock, it’s fully cooked.

1. What is the capital of Poland? 2. Which musician’s real name is Reginald Kenneth Dwight? 3. What was the most downloaded app of 2020? 4. Europe is separated from Africa by which sea? 5. What is the collective name for a group of crows? Answers: 1.Warsaw 2. Elton John 3. Tik Tok 4. Mediterranean Sea 5. A murder

LIFE HACK

Pub quiz

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

OUT OF THIS WORLD A time capsule containing a sample of rock and dirt as old as the solar system will drop from outer space into the Utah desert on 24 September 2023, BBC News has reported. This is what NASA has planned for its historic Osiris-Rex asteroid probe, which began its trek home in May. Its precious cargo of 60g of ancient debris from the near-earth asteroid Bennu is the largest sample collected since

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the Apollo Moon missions. Scientists believe it may provide clues about the formation of the solar system. The probe has been mapping the surface of Bennu since 2018, breaking the record for the closest ever orbit of a planetary body by a spacecraft. Its historic, ‘touch-and-go’, sample grab from the ancient asteroid’s surface in October 2020 lasted only a few seconds but left scientists “exuberant”.


Live it

Thumbs up!

Smile for a while

BBC News has reported that a giant painted smiley face, preserved for almost 50 years on the wall of a ‘happy house’, is still bringing joy to residents on a housing estate. Valerie Wright, a mother of five, painted the smiling yellow face on her Norwich home in the early 1970s. Subsequent residents kept the painting - although it has faded over the years, and lost part of its head when a roof was lowered. A recent photo on social media elicited memories from hundreds of people which Mrs Wright, now 83, said was “amazing”. “It was an incredibly happy house,” said Jeannette Wright-Russell, who grew up in the north Earlham home with her mother and four brothers. “When mum moved here, she didn’t know anyone, so she painted the face because she just wanted to make people smile.”

Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.

DID YOU KNOW?

Giant pandas eat nearly 13kg of bamboo a day – that’s over five tonnes per year!

Henry Ford

Well, knock me down with a feather!

GET JABBED BEFORE GETTING FANGED! ‘Dracula’s castle’ is offering visitors a COVID jab and free visit to its torture exhibition, according to Sky News. ‘Bran Castle’ is thought to be the inspiration for the vampire’s home in Bram Stoker’s famous novel Dracula but, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, visitors are more likely to leave with puncture marks in their arms than their necks this month. In common with most of the world’s tourist attractions, the castle in Romania’s Carpathian mountains has seen a drop in the number of tourists this year, and so has become...a COVID-19 vaccination centre instead! No appointment is needed and vaccine recipients also get free entry to the castle’s exhibit of 52 medieval torture tools. What’s not to like?

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Education Executive Summer 2021  

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