I sometimes liken School Business offices to a black hole. They sit, in the far reaches of a galaxy, minding their own business, sucking everything in the vicinity into an endless void going who knows where, perhaps, i like to think, efficiently delivering them into another time dimension or parallel universe?
Curious observers, remaining at a safe distance, gaze at the sheer energy of them, with their capacity to consume and their inability to fire anything back out (that anyone will admit to fully understanding!)
Boffins will tell you that they are not an important entity and that there are other, more pivotal things, going on in the wider universe, but we all know that if one happens to implode, you can assume that it’ll take pretty much everything with it.
Black holes are like that too.
And similarly we, as SBM occupiers of the black hole sit in a sort of limbo isolation. Not a member of teaching staff, although part of the team leading the teaching; not quite a member of support staff, perceived as someone who, as a manager, sits outside the circle. Our role is to accept everything that is thrown at us from the DfE, EFA, Governors, Staff, Students, Parents and all the other stakeholders that might dare to gravitate too close.
I’ve seen a few blogs recently giving SBMs tips on how to fight the isolation, who to talk to when you’ve exhausted every other avenue to find an answer and how to keep smiling when the going gets tough. All excellent advice. If you’re a new SBM (or even if you’re not) listen and act on the advice because when you’ve been an SBM for more than 10 years, and especially if you’ve worked in more than one school, you have been there, seen that, eaten the pie, got the t-shirt, herded the clowder, and are more than willing to offer guidance and support to anyone who asks.
So go to those local groups and any training offered, forge relationships, scroll through Twitter, read the blogs and professional publications, go to conferences and meetings and generally put yourself out there. You won’t regret it, it is time well spent.
Your employer needs you to be a proactive collaborator (however much they might ‘tsk’ when you tell them you are meeting the next door school for coffee) because they need you to be sane, and we all need to remember the dangers of living in isolation…in space, no one can hear you scream!