Resilience and Ethics

12 Mar 2019 | by David Allen

Where others may stray, business managers must not!


As the line goes in the classic Billy Ocean song when the ‘going gets tough the tough get going’. Through my work I get the opportunity to meet and chat with many Business Managers. I am amazed by the level of resilience we have in the profession. The myriad of tasks and challenges that bombard Business Managers on a daily basis is quite staggering. The capability of the workforce to quietly pick up the challenge and deliver a solution is staggering.

Recognition for Business Managers is limited – however ISBL plays a key role in ensuring the work of the profession does not go overlooked. The ISBL national conference is one great way in which the achievements of the sector are recognised. I have been to every conference since 2009 and the changes in the sector are reflected in the attendance and topics discussed at the conference. For me it is a really good barometer of how things have moved on.


There is more to do though…

A key part of the professional standards that have recently been refreshed is the school business leader values and ethics (as well as behaviours and leading support services). Values and ethics are a fundamental cornerstone for the sector, an aspect that is often overlooked. The Nolan principles are the guiding light for those fulfilling public service and having worked for a number of years with governors and trustees, are something that too often little understood by those taking key public decisions. Too often decisions seem to be taken without a wider understanding of the role played by schools in the wider community and as part of the wider education system.

The values and ethics we demonstrate in our profession are critical, however we need to get this message across to the key stakeholders in the profession. I know many business managers are pushed to the edge when taking some decisions. Let’s not get away from it, dealing with Trustees / Governors and Heads can be challenging and sometimes for the wrong reasons. There will not be a Business Manager who has not faced this difficult situation.


It is important to be true to the profession and I would argue it is vital we are seen to uphold the Nolan principles and the Values and Ethics of our profession as set out in the standards. We are guardians of public money and as a result, spending decisions should be taken in light of the wider delivery objectives we have and the financial frameworks that exist. Where others may stray Business Managers must not.

Professional networks can be a great source of help when the going gets tough. The role can be isolated but today there are over 80 network groups covering the length and breadth of the country. Contacts made through these groups can be a great source of peer support, something which is vital when the day can be difficult and challenging. The value of having a sounding board cannot be underestimated and is especially important when difficult situations arise. The strength we have as a profession comes from the capability in the sector and this includes the ability of our profession to uphold core values of doing things for the right reasons. Next time you challenge somethingit’s good to know the profession is behind you!