Dear Anna, I saw you at EdExec Live and you talked about how every SBM should be part of their Senior Leadership Team and participate in the meetings. Can you tell me again how I do this? Gwen
It was great to meet so many SBMs at the EdExec Live event. The atmosphere was really vibrant and optimistic. I love it when SBMs get together, we’ve got so much to learn from each other and we are all so supportive.
I took some really useful learning points away from the sessions I attended and my brain was buzzing by the end. I loved ‘The Big Debate’ format at the end of the day and hope this is something we can grow together.
An SBM’s seat on the SLT was discussed a few times in the day and I was surprised at the number who still don’t go. I believe that a school’s SLT can only be really effective if it includes input from the SBM. We bring a completely different viewpoint and can offer so much value in strategic planning, particularly in finance, personnel and premises. So I’m pleased you have asked me again and I’m happy to give some advice on how to go about joining your SLT.
- Firstly, and most importantly, consider whether you actually want to be an active part of your SLT. There are no half measures and you will be taking on additional responsibility and time commitment. You will find that your role grows rapidly in new directions and you will need to learn a lot about strategic thinking, governance, teaching and learning, data and managing all sorts of different issues. Being a member of an SLT isn’t for the faint-hearted or for someone who needs to get away at 3.30pm every day. So before you embark on this professional development, make sure it is actually what you want by talking to SBM colleagues who are already part of their SLT.
- If you decide SLT is for you, formulate a plan of action. You will likely have spoken to your Head about it before. If not, that is the first step. What do they think? Do they have any previous experience of an SBM on SLT? What is putting them off letting you join? Do they think you need training? You might find that they are willing to be persuaded to your participation for a trial term. If so, accept the offer and go along to the next meeting, you’ll never look back.
- If they are reluctant, don’t be put off or dissuaded. Ask if you can come along for certain parts of the agenda. Back when Adam was a boy I got onto my first SLT by going along to the diary section at the start and, over time, just stayed longer and longer until everyone just accepted my place. If your SLT don’t do diary, what about Health and Safety or a Finance section? Or you could offer to come along to do some training, or discuss a particular Support Staff issue? The key is that you can get yourself on by stealth, but you have to be prepared to then consistently give it your all. Don’t give anyone an opportunity to wind back or consider whether your input is valuable.
- If you are an SBM in a small school you might find that your SLT meeting is a rather informal affair. You could offer to take and circulate brief action points. If SLT then agree which points are publishable onto a staff room noticeboard (some of them will be confidential), all staff in the school have a ‘window’ into SLT meetings, will gain a greater understanding of the school’s vision and will feel part of a whole school team.
- My last piece of advice is to offer to do something that helps free up your SLT, even if only slightly. I share duty day with an AHT so we do half a term each. This frees him up and presents me as ‘Senior Leader on Duty’ to all other staff. I also take my turn on the detention rota and, very occasionally, emergency cover a lesson for an absent colleague in the classroom (something that I really enjoy but don’t want to do too often – I’m not a teacher)
Of course, all this is going to add time to your day, if not specifically then certainly in catching up on your own work while you’ve been out doing other things. Try not to get too hung up at the start on hours and pay as you can quickly get discouraged and the last thing you want is to start begrudging the time you are spending on your professional development. Being a School Leader is going to involve extra time and, for the support staff contract, that usually means some of what you are doing is unpaid. However, think of it as an investment into your career. Your next SBM job might require your attendance on SLT and will likely be better paid as a result. Learn all you can from your current SLT then either negotiate a pay increase or take your skills onwards and upwards.
I hope that helps you get your foot in the door.
You’ve got this.