I had an interesting conversation with a colleague yesterday. It transpired that she didn’t know what I did. In fact, it transpired that my role in school was a complete mystery to some! If I’m honest, sometimes it’s a mystery to me too, but I try my best to make sense of it…
Following that, I saw posts on twitter which confirmed that other colleagues across the world of school business management have a similar issue and it started to concern me that a large chunk of the teaching profession think there is an army of people in schools who are paid for hiding in an office, Internet shopping and drinking coffee.
We don’t. Really we don’t!
The role is varied, definitely. It is different from school to school dependent on the school size and the other non teaching staff around. Having worked in a mainstream infants and now a large special school, the differences are huge. Three form intake infant school budget? £1.2m, same amount of pupils but larger staff team special school budget? £5m. The daily management of the budget and the 3 year forecasting forward of the budget is just a small part of the role. We negotiate and manage contracts for all sorts of things from teacher absence insurance to catering to waste management. We deal with daily HR queries, payroll problems, staff contract issues and occupational health referrals. We review risk assessments, deal with health and safety around the site. Many of us in larger schools manage site teams, kitchen teams and admin support teams.
Our role, quite simply, is to provide the building for you to teach in, the resources for you to use, the environment for children to learn, and support for you to be able to teach and then we have to make sure that we pay you for it!
Alongside the day to day stuff we can end up planning all sorts! In my 15 months at my current school I have been querying, chasing and questioning enormous water bills. Harassing water companies week after week to get a possible leak on site acknowledged. 15 months I have been working on it. Possibly next week it will be fixed – I cannot tell you how excited that makes me! At my last school it was soakaways, again, months of wrangling but eventually it got fixed just after I left (water and drainage appears to be my forte!)
Things like this won’t be seen by teaching staff, they just happen with no acknowledgement of the hours spent trying to get a result, that result being a saving in water costs meaning more staff or resources. It’s that simple.
Many of us are specialists in our field. Not secretaries. Not photocopier engineers. Not admin clerks, but qualified business specialists. For example, I am a qualified Accounting Technician, with six years experience in social services budgets, eight years in inclusion in schools, three years in an infant school as a business manager, three years as a SEN funding officer for the LA and a Diploma in School Business Management. I’m now 15 months into my business manager role at a PSCN special school. I’m still studying, and would hope by the end of the year I can apply to become a Fellow of the Institute of School Business Leadership.
So I would urge teaching colleagues to work with us, we lovel what we do, we want to make sure you have everything you need to mould young minds, but we need to work together to achieve that.
Let’s work together!