School’s Out For Summer
We are now fast approaching the end of another School Year with building excitement for the end of year celebrations. Some of our pupils will be moving on to pastures new and so undoubtedly there will be a few tears (of Joy and Sadness) around schools.
For School Business Leaders (SBL) the Summer is a fantastic opportunity to develop the school for the future improved pupil outcomes in line with the school vision. In the run up to the hols, the SBL continues working on final arrangements for premises and facility projects. Staff are to be reminded to clear class rooms, pre-start contract meetings are to be held, access to buildings managed over the Summer and so on.
By now you will have plans in place for your Summer premises and facility projects and knowledge of budget costings including contingencies. It is valuable to timetable your premises and facility projects through tools such as a Gantt chart. This is commonly used to show stages and an estimated time line for each section of a project. Consider which task has to be completed before another one can start or if a stage can be done at the same time as another. Tools and techniques do not in themselves achieve success, they cannot make decisions or solve problems but it gives the SBL the opportunity to examine various options to solve problems and deal with issues as they occur.
Before the end of the Summer Term, it is worthwhile meeting with the Senior Leaders to ascertain action to be taken if there are arising issues with project delivery. Proactivity ensures that even when things go wrong objectives are achieved. These problems could include:
- if the project is not delivered on time, costs will probably increase (e.g. additional labour costs)
- to complete on time, costs may or may not be affected but the quality of the end product may be compromised
- can there be compromise on quality in order to finish on time, is cost more important than timelines?
Projects often involve a variety of teams and individuals working together. This may involve conflict resolution at some stage. General approaches include:
Avoidance : backing away and remaining silent. This can lead to escalation of the issue at a later date. However, if the cause of the original disagreement has little impact on the project it may well be worth taking this approach. Emotional Intelligence asks us to always consider future working projects where you may be working with this person.
Smoothing : search for areas to agree to help minimise effect. This brings short term success but the chances are conflict may flare up again if one or more feels wronged.
Compromise : negotiate to bring satisfaction to each party. This requires a give and take approach and an equal stake in the project
Force : exertion of power and may cause resentment. This is not recommended unless all else fails!!
Confrontation : less strong than force. This is the most common and successful use of resolving conflicts. Aim for the teams to look at the problem together and work through the issues by collaborating and open exchanges of views and information.
During the end of the project, evaluate as an overview of the project to ask if you achieved what was intended, what went well and lessons learned. You could reflect on your own self and your competence to the NASBM professional behaviours and standards framework.
The Summer Holiday is also a good time to review the range of documents relating to Facility and Premises Management which uphold the school’s ethos and, subsequently, the reputation of the school. The last month has tragically shown that the unthinkable can happen. The School Business Leader acts as the whole school defender to ensure that the Premises and Facilities are fit for purpose all year round. As with child safeguarding, financial management, human resources, leading support services and stakeholder engagement, the starting point for this is to establish and then communicate procedures and policies.
One important collection of documents is the Contractor Induction Pack which I have recently updated for my school. This contains information for contractors regarding site rules, the school timetable, site maps and service plans, risk assessments, asbestos reports, fire procedures, first aid and safeguarding. It includes general premises information that may seem obvious but should be documented to contractors, such as the location of the gas meter. I am sure all schools are the same in that extensions and new builds have resulted in meters, for example, situated in illogical locations. We know this information as part of our daily premises management with the Site Team but it is always good practice to communicate and clarify. The objective is to keep all stakeholders informed and safe.
And finally, hard as it can be, take time out for yourself and enjoy the Summer!
http://www.businessballs.com/empathy.htm (Accessed online 30.6.17)
Keating, I. and Moorcroft, R.(eds) (2006) Managing the Business of Schools. Paul Chapman: London
Jones, J (2005) Management Skills in Schools: a resource for school leaders. London: Paul Chapman Publishing
By Fiona Gill - July 2017