Disclaimer: this blog contains stats, quotes and anecdotes from our experience of the SBL community, but this may not be representative of you, the reader. Please contact us with your take. We’d love to hear from you: sblday@schoolbusinessservices.co.uk.

 

This blog is from School Business Services (SBS) – creators of National School Business Leaders’ Day!

 

 

As we approach the second annual National School Business Leaders’ Day on Friday 10 June, SBLs will congregate virtually with a slightly different outlook compared to 2021’s event. With the country returning to normality, albeit against a backdrop of economic challenge for both households and schools, it’s worth reflecting on the role of SBLs as of June 2022, their successes and challenges.

 

Glossary: What are the qualities of an SBL?

Naturally multi-skilled, CPD-driven, willing, collaborative, adept at problem-solving, community-minded, academic, adaptable, time-conscious, fun, serious, entrepreneurial, honest, realistic, dependable, diplomatic, pragmatic. The latter duo is key when dealing with multiple stakeholders within a school setting and also in the wider community. We’ve found these qualities in SBLs across the country, and this becomes especially powerful when the whole community pools together via events and social media to give each other advice and support for positive outcomes. Everyone wins. Schools win.

 

Remit: So, what exactly do SBLs do?

Due to these qualities and the ever-expanding SBL remit challenged by diminishing school resources, those in post can find themselves responsible for everything outside of the classroom (although they could easily contribute to a Business Studies GCSE curriculum). Financial processing, HR, health and safety, estates, researching and implementing coronavirus (COVID-19) protocols. Anything else? Sports day, sponsorship, Christmas parties, figuring out the sprinkler system, school uniforms, payroll, grant applications and project planning. That’ll do for now. The list goes on and the key to operational focus and education success is to never lose sight of the school’s vision, ambitions and the bottom line. Mastering the miscellaneous? The breadth of the SBL’s responsibilities and expertise are unique to the role.

 

Achievements: Could you share some SBL success stories?

How about these three? One SBL uncovered significant resources for a brand new kitchen and an after-school club1 – brilliant to see financial planning and project management combining for a teaching and learning outcome. Delivering lateral flow tests in a school and then presenting a ‘how to’ guide to the SBL community2 – a mission critical ‘show and tell’. Overseeing a £22 million refurbishment at an eight-form secondary school3 – spreadsheet wizardry in the office then donning the hard hat for a tour of the premises! These are just a few anecdotal, tangible examples from the community, but no doubt many achievements don’t get the recognition they deserve. Let us know yours or tell of another’s via #SBLKudos

 

Goodbyes: Sorry to hear you’re leaving!?

In a recent Twitter poll by Laura Williams – leadership coach for school leaders – 27.6 percent of the SBLs that responded are planning to change schools or role, 23.4 percent plan to leave the sector with 49 percent staying in their current job (much to the relief of their colleagues, we imagine). However, the half wishing to leave their schools or education is a concern. We’ve found many schools so far in 2022 are on a recruitment drive or seeking interim solutions to cater for an unexpected loss in expertise. With a transferable skillset within a high-pressure environment, SBLs are highly employable in other sectors, but isn’t it a shame that those who wish to apply their expertise in the rewarding world of education are being driven out by factors such as working conditions, remuneration and low morale? That’s a lot of know-how for schools to lose. On a positive note, we are pleased to see that some leavers commenting on the poll are simply taking a break from education, with a view to returning to an SBL role at the right school at the right time, so perhaps it’s more of an ‘au revoir’ for now?

 

Goals: Being valued for valuable work

What do SBLs want? Recognition! When do they want it? All-year round, and not just on #NationalSBLDay! The key to SBL happiness is being valued, supported and recognised by the SLT, as well as wider society. Now, the appreciation for operational and educational impact is definitely there from SLT to SBLs but public recognition can depend on timing, context and also having the appropriate platform to broadcast praise. And many are willing to do just that, as we’ve seen from the #SBLKudos movement. Here are some lovely comments from headteachers to their SBLs:

 

“Our SBL makes our school run like clockwork. Whether it is forgotten wellies, swimming kit or responding to frazzled teachers needing last minute letters or some advice. She gets it all done like a super star!”

 

“Thank you, Emma! You have had a whirlwind of a year - learning as you go! Your commitment and enthusiasm do not go un-noticed and we think you're amazing!”

 

“Kathryn has been my rock, friend and an amazing shoulder over the last year when she came to work with me at my last trust. She’s been a constant comfort and source of advice and guidance for me and supported me greatly in what is often a lonely job. So, I am giving kudos as I don’t know what I would have done without her!”

 

See more #SBLKudos

 

About National School Business Leaders’ Day – network, learn, celebrate, discuss this blog!

 

Celebrated on 10 June, School Business Services has created the National School Business Leaders' Day to recognise the incredible contribution SBLs make to their schools and the wider community. National School Business Leaders’ Day and the lead up to it, will focus on the vital role SBLs play and recognise the amazing way that they have championed and supported one other.

 

Register today here.

 

References

 

  1. https://www.schoolbusinessservices.co.uk/success-stories/lady-jane-grey-primary
  2. https://twitter.com/SBS_Updates/status/1401848951662387201?s=20&t=0Vx0Q4hUjgMj_PGRhU6AQA
  3. https://schoolsweek.co.uk/profile-micon-metcalfe/