What level are you working at?

It’s back to work this week to make a start on a new academic year and I’m thinking about all I’ve learned about my work through this blog. I have found myself reluctant to blog about SBM functions because one of the main things I’ve learned is that it is nearly impossible to tell at what sort of ‘level’ I’m working as an SBM.

For example, I would never have dreamed of applying to be a ISBL fellow prior to joining Twitter and starting my blog because I am cursed with that typically British humble pie, “Oh there are loads of SBMs out there doing a much better job than me.”

Similarly, I’ve always felt that there is a difference between an SBM in the secondary and primary sectors. Not better or worse, just different, which makes me feel unqualified to discuss a wide range of topics.  I also wonder, will anyone be the least bit interested in what I think about the 2017 Academy Finance Handbook or have they all read it, disseminated and made adjustments to policy already?

So where am I as an SBM? I think the trouble with our job is that we are all doing it slightly differently, with different people, skills, situations and priorities. So I thought I’d write down what I think I do well (and not so well). I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions on the level you believe you are working at and why.

5 things I do well. 

1. My MI – I’ve always liked my Management Information. It is a self set up system that draws links from staffing contracts, budget, forecast and actuals and reports it on one easy-to-view report for SLT and Governors. It involves some engagement and input from me (I don’t just press a button to populate it) but I like this because it means I know what is going on. There have been some challenges in converting my system into a MAT but nothing that can’t be resolved.

2. Staffing MI – This has got to be a separate item because although it links into the MI it is extremely useful by itself. I keep 3 years of detail running so could answer pretty much any question you want to throw at me in relation to ‘impact to budget’. For example; “if a Science Teacher goes down to 0.8 in January and I employ another technician, what is the impact on the budget?” or “If 3 staff retired at the end of next year will we manage to break even the following year?” Again the system requires input from me but not onerously so and I love that it’ll give me the answers to any of the SLT efficiency suggestions.

3. Building – I love building. I realise that our capacity to build is finite and I have considered the Prince 2 qualification but as this would probably take me out of Education I have, so far, managed to hold my ambition in this area at bay.

4. Health, Safety and Well-being –  This is important to me and I find that this is the thing I most hassle other staff about. Are we compliant? Where is the risk assessment on..? Are we ever going to squeeze a well-being event into the calendar?

5. Theory to Practice – I find this comes naturally and it is a big interest of mine but, as a consequence I’m not good at writing it down and going through a formal process so that everyone else can see.

Which brings me on to; 5 things I accept that I’m not so interested in (OK, not good at.)

1. Cleaning – Arguably one of the most important non-teaching services in a school. I guess as it has always been someone else’s remit I’ve never engaged. I know that this must change this year.

2. The ‘politics’ – I’m interested in politics and healthy debate. I enjoy being challenged and will happily accept constructive criticism. What I can’t stand is unnecessary game playing and one-upmanship. I sometimes want to say ‘if you think you think you can do my job – please, feel free’.

3. IT – OK, please don’t tell anyone this but I have a background in IT. I worked for 12 years in a company building and selling IT equipment. But I don’t have any experience of using IT in a classroom so I try (and usually succeed) to stay well out of it.

4. Catering – Having 5 children (4 of them boys), I have some very strong ideas about feeding children. However I have found that my ideas are often not compatible with the contractor so I admit that, unless intervention is really needed, I let them get on with it.

5. Expecting too much – I think because I expect so much of myself, I expect the same of others and I need to accept that their priorities and interests are different. This can often result in my feeling let down in some way until I give myself a good talking to and appreciate my colleagues for what they have done.

So, that is me. I like to think of myself as a high functioning and strategic SBM but I don’t really know how I compare and in a room full of SBMs I think I will always feel the least qualified and knowledgeable and the most disorganised! As long as that doesn’t ever stop me giving an opinion and contributing though, I guess it doesn’t matter.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think your strengths and weaknesses are?

2 thoughts on “What level are you working at?

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  1. Love this! I also feel as a primary SBM in the process of joining a MAT that my views won’t hold much weight. I also don’t think I could apply to be a NASBM fellow for these reasons. I also don’t know how my fellow SBMs inc you! Have the time and the talent to write such fab blogs. I don’t think I can process my thoughts as quickly as you guys. My 5 strengths H&S, maintenance, income generation, seeing the big picture, creating an outwood facing school. My 5 weaknesses – work life balance, not getting into the staff room and doing the normal conversations, not saying no, high expectations, managing staff that are taking the piss! (One a year..currently don’t have any, but fear the next time a lazy person slips through the net and gets employed by us!), struggling with people who work at a slower speed than me! If you’ve got any top tips to help me with these five weaknesses that would be fab! Keep writing I love reading your thoughts 😀

    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comments. I am going to try to keep writing but we are heading for an intense few months…perhaps the writing will be an outlet – you’ll have to monitor and let me know if I seem to be losing it!
      My main top tips would be to look after you and make time to interact with colleagues, especially with all the changes that are about to happen. (I know there never seems to be enough hours in the day.) As a primary SBM joining a MAT, it is most important that you keep reminding yourself of your strengths, believe in them and demonstrate them (if only to yourself) daily. Depending on who you are joining with, it will be easy to feel consumed and that your contribution is reducing. Be assured that your role is pivotal to the ongoing success of the MAT (possibly more so than the H/T). Do not allow yourself to feel overtaken. Your job will inevitably change but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Don’t forget that we are all here to support should you need it. Exciting times.

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