Kyra School Business Professional Development Day

Tuesday 20th June 2017 saw the inaugural Kyra School Business Development Day, held at Bishop Grosseteste University and attended by 32 school business colleagues from both Kyra schools and other schools across Lincolnshire.

Colleagues began arriving early for the event and there was soon a fantastic buzz in the air as we all looked forward to an inspirational day with a range of speakers who shared their perspectives on the current school landscape and its implications for school business leadership and management.

Helen Barker, Head of the Kyra Teaching School Alliance, welcomed colleagues to the event with a very moving presentation which addressed the scale and pace of change within our schools and reflected on whether all this change is actually making the children in our schools any happier and/or leading to better outcomes for them. She praised the vital role school business colleagues have in the running of their schools and in enabling the delivery of a curriculum that will inspire every child to realise their dreams.

The event had come about due to the ambition, enthusiasm and persistence of the Kyra SBM Administrator Forum, who had first met a year ago to the day with just a handful of members; and Helen thanked Carla Wray (Chair of the Forum) and Sue Gorden (Vice-Chair) for their ongoing commitment to the Forum and without whom the development day would not have come to fruition.

Helen shared an emotional video clip with colleagues from the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, where Derek Redmond pulled up injured and his father burst out of the crowd to help him across the finishing line. Challenging times are so much easier when we have others to lean on for support. In today’s climate of not enough time or money, greater responsibilities and more demands, it is even more vital that no school or professional should be operating in isolation. Our partnerships and relationships must sustain us, support growth and innovation and be grounded in moral purpose and joint professional development. Everything we do in our schools must be focused on giving every child the best possible start in life – irrespective of background or circumstance. Children have just one chance, and we want to give them the best chance possible.

Helen described the characteristics of strong and deep partnerships, which are sustained and long-term, and grounded in strong leadership, governance and accountability. The Kyra SBMA Forum is proving itself to be such a partnership, moving forward with clear goals and aspirations and overcoming challenges with compassion and actions. Helen told colleagues that she hoped they would come away from the event feeling inspired, supported and truly part of a collaborative and professional learning network.

Val Andrew

Next to speak was Val Andrew from the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), whose interesting and informative presentation brought colleagues fully up to date with a range of key policy issues.

Val noted that the snap general election meant that implementation of the National Funding Formula (NFF) was likely to be delayed by at least a year (however, there are now clear indications that it will be introduced in April 2018). ASCL has been campaigning for a more equitable funding formula for schools for 20 years so is supportive of the NFF in principle but hopes to work with the DfE to refine it.

Val emphasised that there are two key issues regarding school funding – distribution AND sufficiency. Whilst the NFF (if done properly) would address the current distribution problems, the core concern is that is simply not enough money in the education pot to sustain the school system. ASCL is therefore lobbying hard for both issues to be addressed by the new government as a matter of urgency.

Val urged colleagues to develop three versions of their school budget – the best case scenario, the worst case; and the most likely version given current knowledge. In doing so, Val suggested that colleagues should work on the basis that the NFF will go ahead but also develop a scenario that considers what might happen to their budget if the NFF doesn’t go ahead.

In terms of the expansion of MATs, school business colleagues are likely to have a core role in due diligence activities, the centralisation of business functions, the coordination of MAT governance functions and associated training; and in developing marketing and recruitment policy and activity across the MAT.

Val suggested that whilst the Certificate of School Business Management (CSBM) and Diploma of School Business Management (DSBM) qualifications are still relevant within the sector, as their roles develop, colleagues might wish to consider whether other professional qualifications might be more relevant to their roles, such as those relating to HR or finance.

Jeff Marshall

Colleagues then had an informative and challenging discussion from Jeff Marshall, who has been a school governor for 24 years and a chair of governors for 20 years at one of the first primary schools to convert to academy status. Jeff’s school is in Trafford and regularly attracts several times more applications for entry to reception that there are spaces – this year there were 276 applications for just 30 places.

Jeff described the school’s journey to academy conversion, which had also enabled the school to provide the wraparound care that parents needed while raising valuable additional income for the school. The school is able to provide bonuses for all of its staff, which are unrelated to academic achievements, as well as a range of other benefits. Staff have also been responsible for developing their own inspiring curriculum.

Jeff highlighted that it remains the government’s intention for all schools to become academies, and although they will no longer be forced to do so, schools will increasingly find themselves with little choice as the number of academies in local authorities reaches a tipping point (making the maintained school system unsustainable).

Jeff suggested that maintained schools have the option to do nothing and see what happens, but that they should really be thinking about either joining an existing MAT or creating a MAT themselves, in which case they should undertake appropriate due diligence and reviews of teaching and learning, leadership and management, governance, finances and condition surveys. For standalone academies, they also have the option of doing nothing and seeing what happens, or again joining a wider MAT or creating one themselves, whilst ensuring robust due diligence.

Kaele Pilcher

Colleagues then heard from Kaele Pilcher, who is a pension fund representative from the local government pension scheme. Kaele explained that the LGPS is a nationwide pension scheme, and membership is automatic if a colleague is employed by an academy or LA maintained school. Kaele explained the key features of the scheme, covering issues such as retirement age, contribution rates, options for colleagues in financial difficulty, and options for paying extra into the scheme. Kaele also explained to colleagues how to interpret the pension benefits statement, so that they can support colleagues in school.

Debbie Barkes

The development day was concluded with an active and inspirational workshop on collaboration, run by Debbie Barkes, Head at St Faith’s Infant School. Debbie emphasised what can be achieved by everyone working together towards the same aim, and therefore that collaboration, not isolation, is vital, particularly in challenging times.

Collaboration at St Faith’s includes membership of several different collaborative groups: including Kyra; and the Mobilise project (which this year has focused on the deployment of teaching assistants). Debbie asked school business colleagues to get involved with this year’s Mobilise 2 projects and to add their expertise.

Colleagues discussed the challenges they were facing in school at the moment, which included: 30 hours nursery provision, staffing, and succession planning; and were asked to think about some possible solutions to share with colleagues in the room.

Debbie concluded her session by re-emphasising the importance of collaboration and in supporting each other through both the good times and the challenging times so that everyone can benefit.

Colleagues all agreed that it had been an excellent day, with inspirational and informative speakers, great opportunities for networking and discussion, and providing a feeling of support and collaboration going forward for school business colleagues.

Feedback from the day was really positive, with 84% rating the day as ‘excellent’ and 16% as ‘good’. In addition, all colleagues found the inputs relevant to their own training and development needs.

 

“It was great to network and catch up with colleagues in the same position, all feeling the same and battling similar issues.”

“An excellent day, thank you.  A good range of speakers and it was helpful to share good practice.”

“Extremely useful day…I have come away with lots of information and ideas.  It was also a great opportunity to network.”