As some of you may know, I lead the ISBL regional group Somerset School Business Leaders (SSBL). Our members are predominantly primary SBLs, plus some Special and Secondary SBL. We face the same difficulties many network groups face of maintaining and developing the member support network. It’s really important to the SSBL committee to develop and grow our members’ skills, aspirations and career opportunities, as well as support their well-being. In November 2018, we offered a CIPFA Good Estates Management & Statutory Compliance course to our members at cost. In October 2019 we took the bold step of offering the ISBL ICFP training to some of our members fully funded, using income generated from successful conferences.
I was expecting us to be inundated with booking requests for this training, but this wasn’t the reality. If I’m really honest I was very disappointed that we didn’t have a waiting list of members wanting to attend this training. It felt like a fantastic opportunity for free, relevant and important training, delivered within their immediate location, was being missed and I couldn’t understand the reasons why. I have heard some SBLs say ICFP is not applicable to primary schools as they traditionally have one teacher per class, and nothing is really going to change that.
I also know that some SBLs are working in primary schools which are going through the unpleasant process of restructuring. There are also those colleagues who never seem to be released from their schools for whatever reason to attend network meetings, conferences or free training. Whatever their reasons for not attending, I wish they had! The full-on thought-provoking day was delivered by Andrew Hamilton, a very passionate, enthusiastic and knowledgeable Fellow of ISBL, SRMA, consultant and ex Headteacher.
To the primary and secondary SBLs in the room the ICFP metrics demonstrated where there was surplus extra teaching hours, where they were paying teachers twice for TLRs AND given them release time and opened their eyes to the discussions they were potentially going to have. This is hard. SBLs are often the ones who say “no”, or “not yet”.
ICFP is a tool which in many cases will see the SBL deliver more bad news supported by evidence using the school’s own data which could be as current as that day. The atmosphere was a mixture of informed buzzing, as learning was taking place, and anxiety for how the metrics would be for their school’s when they started looking at their own data.
ICFP isn’t new it’s been around a long time. Some LAs and schools have been using something a bit like it for over 15 years to work out if they have enough Maths teachers for classes of 20 or whether their leadership team is too big and they’ve understaffed their PPA cover. What is new is the DfE’s funding for the ICFP training and it’s not just for SBLs, but also for your Headteacher and your Governors. It’s the opportunity to get them to take off their pedagogy or governance goggles and put on their SBL-vision goggles. You could even sit with them through the training, which is delivered either as a webinar or face to face session and then follow it up with talking them through the metrics for your school. Involve them in the discussion about the metrics outcomes, it will really give them an understanding and help them make informed decisions, which hopefully will help you when you deliver your monthly management accounts or report on budget plans. The DfE funded training has to end 31st March 2020, so book your place and hopefully your Headteacher’s and Governors via https://isbl.org.uk/Training.aspx?
If I’m already talking to the ICFP converted, well done for still reading this blog and have you considered sharing your skills and enthusiasm for ICFP with others? Maybe as an SRMA? When SRMAs visit a school, they use the ICFP metrics as the basis of many of their discussions. For more information please look at https://isbl.org.uk/School-Business-Member-Services/SRMA.aspx
Working out the ICFP metrics is the easy bit, working out the necessary adjustments and then implementing them is the really tricky bit.
Helen Burge, Deputy COO