Today I attended my first School Business Manager Roundtable Event in Birmingham. It was an opportunity to discuss the main political party education manifestos, from the impending general election here in the UK.
It was a privilege to be part of it. The opportunity to listen and contribute to a discussion about education policy with sector leaders was inspiring.
(Note that I used the term ‘leaders’ rather than ‘business leaders’. We must embrace our seats at the leadership table!)
As a starter for our discussions, we used the useful videos of each party’s education manifesto created by @MidlandsSBM (in alphabetical order):
Here are my thoughts from the day…
The main priority for everyone…. funding, funding, funding. Fundamentally there is not enough money going in to the system. The ‘extra’ money that is going to be put in will soon be used up by the extra children coming in to the education system. We all shared a concern that the disparity of funding rates must be addressed and welcome the National Funding Formula (NFF). Although we share a concern as to what the final NFF will look like. We also recognised the importance of meeting pupils needs, including SEND and low income families.
It was comforting to see that food, mental health and wellbeing in schools is important to all the parties in varying forms; but does it need to be provided across the board?
Would it not be better to allow schools the freedom to spend money where it is needed most to meet pupil need?
Aren’t school leaders the right people to decide where that is?
Structural reform and change remains an area of challenge and development; with the growth of existing MATs, hard/soft federations, new schools, small schools.. so much to consider. I think we were all of the consensus that academisation is the direction of travel.
SBMs should work towards the role they aspire to SBM, CEO, CFO, COO, etc… there is no glass ceiling. There are fantastic opportunities for the most skilled SBMs.
This may be a controversial view and not likely to be popular… but what if the business management side of schools was part of the Ofsted Inspection, our teaching and learning is scrutinised, why is our ability to deliver value for money not considered?
Is the business management side of ‘outstanding’ schools as exemplary as the teaching and learning provision?
If we are to learn and share best practice across the sector don’t we need to know how it is achieved?
I was personally encouraged by the DFE’s ‘Schools’ Buying Strategy’ paper that was released in January this year (I recently presented a workshop at the ASCL Conference in place of the DFE on this document). If you haven’t read it yet, please do, here’s a link to it:
I thought the concept of an SBM advocate, that could support existing SBM groups and the development of new groups, was a fantastic idea. Not to be rude to the person that they appoint to that post, but the salary offered was very disappointing. It wasn’t likely to attract the best and brightest from the SBM community. I do hope this role has the impact that they aiming for.
Its important to remember as leaders, that we need to inspire the next generation of business professionals; and ensure that they are equipped to inspire those that follow them.
We all have circles of influence. We can all use our influence to shape the future. Through SBM groups, your SLT, governing bodies, social media, publications, blogs, NASBM, ASCL and NAHT.
The changes that NASBM are making are much needed, the change to institute status is a good move, that will further professionalise what we do.
Finally, a call for support from organisations like ASCL and NAHT; is it time that someone from a business background was one of the keynote speakers at your main conferences. The main issues being raised by the sector is funding, recruitment, academisation… business management professionals have so much knowledge and expertise to share on these areas.
If you would like to read more about today’s event you can read the views from @WorkingSBM
Please keep the conversation going and tweet your views using the hashtag #SBMRT17
I can’t wait until next years Roundtable event, it is a unique opportunity and I would encourage you to sign up and be part of shaping the future.