The end of the year is nigh

I think this time of year is exhausting for an SBM. The last 3 weeks of term are spent in a state of panic and sleepless nights that a) I am going to forget someone’s leaving present b) I’m going to miss the ESFA budget return deadline c) I might actually growl at the next someone who asks me where I’m going over the summer holiday!

But, of course, it is easy to get swept along in the anticipation of the summer break as everyone clears their workspace and dumps it onto mine, (why does all that loose change miraculously appear on the last day of term?)

For me, it is the new academic year that brings the most joy because it always commences in a whirl of activity and disconnection from the rest of the school as we hunker down to audit the financial year end.

I decided a few years ago that it was better to get on with it rather than to drag the whole process into October or November so this year the auditors will arrive, later than usual, for their week of forensics into the books on September 27th.

What other staff in a school often don’t realise is that the Academy audit process puts an SBM out of action for pretty much 4 weeks (1 week with the auditors, 1 week picking up the pieces when they have left, 1 week answering residual questions and completing anything that they realise they (or I) have missed, and 1 week clearing the backlog). However, during this time of detailed audit, the other demands on an SBM keep on coming apace; ‘Why is my pay different?’, ‘Can I buy this?’, ‘Did you buy that?’, ‘Can you send me a claim form’, ‘Who is going to snag the new building?’, ‘Will the new prospectus be ready for open day?’, ‘Do the new staff have everything they need?’, ‘What do you think about this, that or the other?’ (Sometimes I’m left not being sure what I think about anything!)

An SBM once told me that she had a standard answer to demanding staff “I appreciate that this is important to you, but I am unable to make it my priority today/this week/this month/this year/ever” (delete as appropriate). As you know this attitude isn’t my MO but I do find myself having to be ruthless in September or nothing will be completed on time and my team will be frazzled.

But why am I telling you all this? Finance is dull to most people. Isn’t this supposed to be a end-of-summer-term blog about the joys of the year end?

Well, what I’m trying to say is that, for me, September is the year end. It is the month that we spend the whole year working towards with absolutely everything we do in the Finance Office having this small window of manic time in mind.

And I love it.

I love that our books are in order at year end. I love that I’ve managed to unpick the accounts over the summer so that I can report in the format the auditors want to see. I love that I know my systems well enough to be able to answer any questions they might throw at me, I especially love it when they confirm that we have come in under budget (however slightly) and I love it when it is all done and dusted by the beginning of October so that I can declare the Finance Office open for business and start all over again.

The rest of the year is filled with issues to resolve, change to manage, projects to lead, colleagues to laugh (and sometimes cry) with, events to organise, meetings to arrange, Governors to satisfy and improvements to propose…

Phew! Give me the me-time of September every time.

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