Get ready for your holidays!

11 Jun 2019 | by David Allen

With only a few weeks of term left many school staff are looking forward to a well-earned break…including Business Managers!

Alas the school will be mostly empty – which for most Business Managers spells out a season of opportunity. It’s time to get many of the annual routine jobs completed such as deep cleaning, decoration etc., as well as some more substantial projects which might include some extensive construction work or re-glazing. Then there is the opportunity to work through all those policies and papers that have been positioned at the end of the desk with a post-it note saying ‘summer work’.

Yes, the holidays for the Business Manager are the time when a hidden army may descend into the school in the hours of daylight and busily work away at a number of important tasks. All this does not happen overnight – for most Business Managers this whole period requires a significant amount of planning. In truth, the holiday is not long enough and people soon drift in especially if ‘A ‘level and GCSE results are due…so there is no scope to waste a day!

It’s a major exercise in logistics with different works starting at different times around the school site with the aim to get everything completed by opening in September. The challenge of delivering this may be taken for granted – but should not be. Contractors are invariably busy during school holidays – plus they have their own resourcing problems to deal with. So, the planning for work must start in good time otherwise you will simply not get the suppliers that you want. The whole process of procuring and gaining sign-off for projects means the Business Manager also needs to see this summer’s work through to completion whilst at the same time starting the planning process for the subsequent year.

It’s easy to underestimate the amount of work that is involved, and the skills required to deliver this – it’s another example of the ability and professional capability that exists across the sector. Let’s not forget that there are also many Business Managers who are still not on annual contracts so no doubt will also be giving up some of their own personal down time to check in on things and deal with emails and possibly phone calls when on their family holiday. With such pressure to get things done you cannot let something wait…I know I told my team when I was away – don’t worry, just call me – easier to get a problem or decision made via the phone as opposed to leaving it for a week or so until I am back.

Talking of pressure – it’s worth flagging health and safety – because there are no pupils around it doesn’t mean people can cut corners! Contractors and school staff still need to follow the correct protocols, there is temptation to be a little more relaxed and perhaps do tasks that people would not normally do. The risks during this period increase and always need reiterating with site teams and managers. I always found it useful to regularly walk the site during holiday periods checking in on progress and monitoring working practices. Always keep an eye out for when the ladders appear!

The worrying aspect is that with so much going on, the pile of polices will still be on the corner of the desk once September arrives!

My final word of advice – always be clear about what rubbish needs to be removed from site – I always remember the Head of PE coming to me at the start of the new term in September and asking if I knew where the hockey goals were....clearing the PE sheds had been a summer job! I will say no more…..