Learning Curves

10 Sep 2019 | by Sally Allen

Learning curves - do they ever end??

As another financial year for academies begins I wonder what the next 12 months will bring…

After working in the private sector I clearly remember starting my first role in Education as Local Management in Schools was being rolled out and being told by my new manager that I should be prepared to embark on a learning curve. Well I’m not sure this has ever ended, or perhaps it’s just that as you complete one journey a new learning curve replaces it!

I remember the years of budgets just about taking up one side of A4 paper with a few dozen headings and no real worries about not being able to reach a balanced budget! From those early days to then the gradual delegation of more and more financial responsibility being passed to schools, bringing lots of ring-fenced pots of money and less funding, I thought I had got it sorted. Then the birth of Academies began. In 2012 our school converted to an Academy, forming an Umbrella Trust, five years later we began the process of forming and joining a Multi Academy Trust. Over the last two years I have been on many learning curves, as Trust Business Manager I have helped to shape the central services, working with our Trust Operations and Finance Officer and supporting the Primary Schools who converted straight from Local Authority into the MAT.

What I would say is that the role of a Business Manager is never dull, never the same – our role in each School/Academy is unique, by going through change we build resilience. Our “learning curves” will make us better people, more effective, informed and able to support our peers. So if you are contemplating how you might cope with the next wave of change, see it as a challenge and opportunity to grow. Invest time into building relationships with peers and don’t be afraid to ask for support and say when you need help. We have all been in that situation of feeling isolated at times and often think admitting to not knowing is a weakness, but this simply not true – it takes courage to say you need help. With time at a premium it’s so easy to become immersed in the role and hideaway in our schools, but it is vital that we are proactive at joining and being part of our local and national support networks. To continue on the many learning curves that are inevitable in the ever-changing world of education we need to share knowledge and experiences, learn from each other, support and be supported by our peers.

Remember to appreciate and invest in the people in your school too, take your team with you on that learning curve, allowing the people around you to grow and gain in confidence. Be open and honest about why there is change, yes show them you are confident and positive but don’t be afraid to let them know you don’t always have the answers and are learning too.

So if you take anything from this blog remember the importance and value of investing time with your peers, and utilise the resources and support provided by ISBL. This will then allow you to continue your own professional development journey.