Life in a day

4 Jun 2019 | by Maria Taylor

“Life in a Day at a Primary School”: the relevance of the newly published Guide to Professional Standards and how sharing the document impacts on me, my school and the wider education landscape

Somebody had asked me what kind of a week I had had – varied and busy does not begin to describe the week nor the experiences you are exposed to as a Business Manager of a school – the title is a misnomer. You have to reflect on the reason for entering the sector when having worked for the majority of my career in the professional commercial world I thought I was prepared for anything – how wrong can you be.

Not until you are launched into school life can you anticipate the intensity of the working conditions and the termly cycles which seem to accelerate you through your working patterns and indeed years. Although exhausting, challenging and demanding the whole experience makes the journey and career development ever more rewarding and a necessity.

On reflecting on my recent whirlwind week which included: traffic duty; first aid; meetings with building inspectors; fending off the ever-present sales calls; managing staff absence; updating school policies; liaising with governors; attending SLT and whole school team orientation sessions; attending panel meetings; visiting schools as part of an SRMA deployment: what brought me back to the main focus of my role in school was the newly published guide to our professional standards to go out to Headteachers and governing bodies.

I have received this document with great enthusiasm and must congratulate the team at ISBL by putting together such a thoughtful document that will be very well received I hope by all professionals involved in the development of school business leaders within the education sector.

This document has highlighted once again how few of us are championing the role and promoting ourselves professionally within the sector. Sometimes I feel that this is a hard sell to the “unconverted” and wonder to myself how this can now be marketed and received across the landscape by practitioners in all tiers of their professional development but most especially to those new to the career and looking how they use this publication to develop themselves and their own school teams.

Well,  as described in a recent training slide – there is no elevator to success – you have to take the stairs! So, it is down to the practitioners at ground level to promote and reinforce the guidance at each and every opportunity available to them. I can become entrenched in my day-to-day plate-spinning and fire-fighting but have decided that if I don’t take the reins nobody else is going to do this for me.

I have started to circulate the guidance to my own networking groups and have offered to run a twilight session for the teaching school alliance members – we have specifically targeted senior leaders and chair of governing bodies/trusts as a priority audience. I am working on collaborating with the local teaching school council reps and am hoping to be able to deliver a session to their membership at the next NLE meeting they hold.

Don’t take for granted that the sector know or are aware of the document,  despite the recent marketing push; of all my local colleagues I have spoken to since its publication, none were aware of the document and have asked me to share it with them.

Make time in your busy schedule, digest the document and spread the word – what’s the worst thing that can happen – it goes in the bin I suppose. On the upside, this may open professional discussions, which in turn opens doors to a seat on the SLT and improved working relationships between all areas. This document is aimed at supporting the identification of need, the recruitment,  induction and continual professional development of school business leaders. I will certainly be using this document not only for my own performance management/appraisal meetings this Summer term but will also be using the document for members of my administration team and sharing it with other schools who have approached me about recruiting their own business professional.

In the years since entering the sector, I am astounded how the role has developed and changed and am secure that I am fully able to meet that changing remit due to the investment in my own continual professional development. I am looking for my next step in my professional development and how this can challenge and support an ever financially stretched sector. My journey, without doubt,  would have been more comfortable with such guidance available as I have felt for many years the constant need to justify my role in the school. I am proud to be part of and contribute to children’s futures and I hope that many others will follow to make contributions to the success of our young people even if they are not directly involved in the teaching and learning.

To summarise – what kind of week have I had? A parent asked me this morning – what is it that you don’t do at this school – my answer – everything except teach – how lucky am I!!?