The opportunity to talk about the election manifestos and future policy making was just too great a draw and something I’ve wanted to be more involved in for a long time. So I threw my anonymity into the wind, accepted the invitation and went for it!
The event was nothing short of inspirational for me. Even though I see myself as a leader in education, involved in pushing the role forward and capable (I’ve always thought) of “holding my own”, I have always struggled to see myself as a “mover and shaker” in a wider context, until today that is.
The discussion centred around the @midlandssbm summaries of the three main manifestos (definitely worth a view if you haven’t seen them yet) specifically; funding, the (ongoing) changing role of the SBM, MAT conversion and structures, as well as governance, school meals, and a short diversion into whose office has the best view!
The debate was well informed by the tremendous collective knowledge and experience around the table, represented by nursery, primary and secondary phases, consultants and NASBM. While we agreed that we didn’t have all the answers, it was felt reasonable to declare that with our collective nounce, we did have some of them.
So here, in my words, is our message to the next Government (whoever that might be);
1. Per pupil funding of schools needs to be balanced nationally. We are not expecting this to happen overnight and accept there will be many years of funding guarantees to those schools who will experience a reduction. The current funding system isn’t sustainable in the long term so you may as well make a start now. You are only delaying the inevitable.
2. As part of the funding changes, the table agreed that it is vital that the funding of additional needs is delivered in a more coherent and transparent way. This included not only high needs, deprivation, mental health and FSM but also a requirement to give schools the autonomy to decide which pupils are most in need and how they will be supported most effectively.
3. SBMs are ready to take control of their profession and their pivotal role in leading schools. They can no longer be seen as “supporting Headteachers”. An SBM’s skills, experience and leadership, that is already driving further improvement across education, must now be recognised by the industry (I’m also thinking RSC, ASCL and NAHT). It was accepted that the changes needed to get this professional recognition will not be without pain, but again, let’s start now.
I really felt like I was part of a force to be reckoned with today. Thank you so much to our host and everyone who attended. Let’s do it again soon.
The final words must be directed towards the new Government so, as seems appropriate, in the speak of my 15 year old stepson…