The start of the new term always feels great, after a busy summer of catching up, overseeing building works and refurbishments, ensuring that everyone has the resources they need and that the school is looking all clean and sparkly for the return of the pupils.
Then we fire fight for the first few days… the ICT network goes down or is really slow, because everyone is logging on at the same time; someone can’t remember their password; the fire alarm is set off accidently, there has been a miss-calculation on the number of lockers needed… and you soon forget that there was ever a summer holiday and start counting the number of sleeps till half-term, whilst repeating the mantra, “I love my job”, “I love my job”.
Towards the end of September it sneaks up on you that it is time to start the new performance management cycle, and your line manager will be looking to you for ideas for target setting and you need to scrabble some ideas together for your personal development and training this year.
It is a discussion topic that often comes up with SBMs or I see SBMs discussing the question on social media, ‘what is the right training for me?’
The answer is a long one, because we all know money is tight for most schools and that you want maximum impact for using precious funds and time. Schools are evaluating the impact of professional development activities and making informed decisions about how to allocate the CPD budget and apprenticeship levy.
It also depends what your goals are and what you want to get from a training course, whether it is knowledge building or a stepping stone to the next qualification or the next job. Also, which qualifications you already hold and which will prepare you for the future, for example you may be aspiring to apply for the ISBL Fellowship or looking to specialise in one of the ISBL Professional Standard disciplines .
Time available is an important factor in deciding on what training and professional development to undertake. If you are a new SBM, my advice based on my own experience would be to look at modular based options to give you the essential knowledge. I found that trying to learn a new job, in a new setting, whilst studying a qualification, was an added pressure during those important first few months, which on hindsight I would have done differently given my time over.
My preference for my personal stage of career is conferences, because I know that I can pick workshops and key notes which will provide the updates that I need on specific topics, along with being a brilliant opportunity for networking and keeping up with what is happening in the sector. That’s not to say that I don’t review each year the qualifications on offer. One that looks appealing to me is the NPQEL and I will be looking out for feedback on how the first cohorts find it.
I know that many SBMs will put their own professional development to the bottom of the priority list, but I strongly encourage you to make time and allocate a budget for the development of business management and leadership, it will pay back in the longer term, just take your time deciding what to go for and evaluate what will have the most impact for you and your setting.
Next time you attend a CPD event, before you leave do a quick evaluation for yourself:
Who did you connect with?
What did you learn that you didn’t know already?
What ideas are you taking back to your school?
Was it value for money?
Did it have the impact you were looking for?
View the ISBL training calendar here.