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 NASBM 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 Wellbeing –  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 wellbeing 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 knowledgable 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?

School Holiday Sleuth – Idyll Interrupted – 4

The full moon lit the way back up the cliff for Anna and Barry and they chatted quietly as they made their way up the steep path. They were close to the house when Anna stopped. “That makes me so cross,” she hissed.

“What’s that?”

“Can you give me one of those poo bags that are always threatening to clog up the washing machine?” Barry sighed, he had to accept that his failure to remember to empty his pockets before his clothes went into the wash was one of Anna’s pet hates.

“Useful sometimes though” he smiled, handing her a small black plastic bag. Anna wrapped it over her hand and dived under a very prickly gorse bush, picking up the offending mess and securing it tightly before placing it in her jacket pocket. “Totally yuk!” Barry exclaimed, “please don’t ask me to hold that hand again tonight.”

“Are we spending the day on the beach tomorrow?” Anna asked brightly. “I’d like to do some rock pooling.”

“As long as you’ve got decent picnic supplies.” Barry laughed.

 

Blandford arrived early the following morning and had decided it was Barry’s turn to answer some of his questions. The blue skies promised another stunning day so he agreed to meet Anna on the beach when he was finished and she started down the cliff. “May I join you?” Robert, carrying a towel, was on his way for a swim.

“Of course.” It was difficult not to like Robert. He was, as Rebecca had observed, very handsome and aging extremely well. He had a relaxed ‘trust-me’ air about him and Anna guessed that this was what made him such a good estate agent. “If I may join you for a swim?” Anna smiled.

Anna was competent but she wasn’t a strong swimmer and she was nervous about swimming in the sea alone. “Everyone should be able to swim well.” Robert said forcefully “You never know when it might save your life.”

“Is that what happened to Jeremy?” Anna enquired cautiously. “Only if you want to talk about it.”

“It was a long time ago. I still find it difficult to talk about.” Robert stumbled slightly on the path and Anna put out a hand to steady him. “Thank you. I’m sure Janice would have happily told you all about it, she would never let me forget, and she was full of ideas about what had happened, even though it was ruled an accident at the time”

“How was Janice involved?” Anna was astounded that there were further connections that she hadn’t yet discovered. “She wasn’t involved, she had a complete crush on Jeremy, wouldn’t leave him alone. He couldn’t wait to go off to university and escape. She’s never forgiven me.”

The water was cold and Anna was annoyed to find the warm gentle lapping of the shallows had deceived her. By the time she’d waded up to her thighs she realised she was either going to have to dive in or head back to the shore. “You OK?” Robert was beside her in the water. Anna nodded and launched herself under the water.

“Next time, I’m bringing a surf suit.” She gasped on surfacing, trying to block out the cold and keep moving, they started to swim. Robert maintained an even pace alongside her, matching her crawl stroke with very little effort and slicing efficiently through the water with long tan arms. As they swam farther out, Anna slowly became aware that Robert seemed to be swimming closer to her, every time her face turned towards him he met her eyes and Anna could feel herself becoming anxious at his proximity. His body’s rhythm appeared to be locked in synchronisation with hers as if watching and waiting for an opportune moment to strike her. His eyes bored intensely into hers, he looked desperate, almost wild. Panic started to rise in her chest and the tightness gripped inside her, interrupting her own rhythm and making breathing difficult. In an effort to keep calm, Anna concentrated on swimming off to one side, trying to put at least an arms length of distance between herself and this man.

As if to compensate, Robert manoeuvred even closer to her. At every arm stroke Anna’s fear grew, aware that if he locked his arm over hers he could pull her under the surface without any difficulty. She had nothing with which to defend herself and started to contemplate whether stopping dead in the water and turning back to the shore would give Robert the opportunity he was looking for. Anna looked behind her, the shore wasn’t so far away, she turned in an arc away from Robert who continued to keep pace. “I’m going back.” Anna knew that her terror was causing her to flail ineffectively in the water and she was splashing like a frightened child. Seawater was going up her nose causing her to splutter the acrid salt taste as it went down her throat. Her arms and legs burned in protest at the demands she was making on them and her brain seemed to disconnect from her limbs. She could feel herself sinking in the water.

At that moment, Anna felt Robert grab her roughly. His long arm stretched around her chest under both arms and he flipped her onto her back. Anna gasped, a mouthful of seawater flooded in and knew she was helpless. In the next movement, Robert’s strength lifted her upright onto her feet and she realised she was standing in three feet of water. Coughing and choking, Robert half dragged and half lifted her back onto the beach and dumped her in the sand.

“What on earth was that?” Robert asked crossly. “Can’t you swim?”

“Of course I can swim.” Anna’s terror had turned to indignation and anger. “Just not when someone is practically swimming on top of me.”

Robert’s face softened “Oh God I’m so sorry was I doing that?” Anna finished coughing and turned to look at him, realising she wasn’t in any danger. “I haven’t swum with anyone in open water since that day with Jeremy.” Robert slumped beside her on the sand, he suddenly looked older and more worn out than his years. “It was so awful, we did it for a dare, to race across the lake at the golf club. I’d got right over the other side before I realised Jeremy wasn’t with me. I shouted and searched but I couldn’t find him. It took Police divers two hours to recover his body. He was such a good swimmer, I still don’t know what happened, he should have beaten me easily.”

“It wasn’t your fault.”

“Yes it was, it was my idea and I should have stayed with him.” Robert’s raised voice indicated just how much rage was still within him.

“You couldn’t have known what was going to happen.”

“I’m so sorry Anna, the water in the lake was freezing too, I just didn’t want the same thing to happen again. I needed to be close to you, protect you.” Robert was beginning to compose himself.

“Well, thank you for rescuing me before I swallowed the whole English Channel.“ Anna smiled. “No harm done.”

 

Barry waved from the top of the cliff and started down the slope, Anna couldn’t help but be relieved to see him and started to dig the picnic out from the bottom of her rucksack. “How did it go?”

“It was OK, I think Blandford wants to talk to you next but he said it would have to be later this afternoon. He’s gone now.” Barry bit enthusiastically into his cheese roll. “How’s the water?”

“Freezing.” Robert replied, accepting a proffered roll. “I’d stick to paddling if I were you.”

“Anna wants to go rock pooling, I’ll be carrying the bucket.” Barry laughed, proudly holding aloft the child’s red plastic container, he held out his other hand to his wife. “Ready?”

 

Anna and Barry strolled back up to the house after a happy afternoon picking their way over the rock pools, turning boulders and watching the tide recede down the beach, uncovering new shoreline plants and wildlife as it went.

Blandford was waiting for Anna and directed her into the small family room behind the kitchen that had been set up as an incident room. Anna sat in a comfortable chair and looked at Blandford as he patted his jacket pocket and opened a small notebook. “I’m sorry it has taken me so long to get to you.” Blandford started. “Your husband was very helpful this morning and suggested it might save a lot of time if I talked to you next.”

“No problem.” Anna had decided to wait and see in which direction Blandford took his questioning of her. He seemed to be struggling in that decision himself.

“I hope you don’t mind but I’m going to try something.” Blandford started. “Your husband thinks that you know who did it and that you could prove it, but he tells me that I will have to ask the right questions.” He looked directly at Anna who remained impassive. “Do you know who killed Janice?”

“Yes.” Anna replied.

“Do you know why she was killed?”

“Yes” Anna replied.

“Do you know how she was killed?”

“Yes” Anna replied

“Do you have any evidence?”

“Yes” Anna replied.

Blandford considered his next question carefully. “Do you think there is any likelihood that he or she will kill again?”

“No” Anna replied.

Blandford smiled. “Normally I would just now sit here and wait for you to crack under the pressure of my stare and tell me everything, but I have a feeling that won’t work with you.”

“No and before we go into any detail, I’ll need you to do something for me” Anna reached into her jacket pocket, pulled out the small black poo bag and passed it to Blandford.

“What’s this?” Blandford held it cautiously.

“I think that should give you all the evidence you need. It’s a golfing glove. You should get it tested because it is likely that you will find Janice’s blood on the outside and the murderer’s DNA on the inside.”

School Holiday Sleuth – Idyll Interrupted – 3

The meal that evening was the first time they were all together again since the barbeque on the beach, and it felt like a world away. Blandford had, once again, left for the night leaving a colleague guarding the door. The day had been a long one but as Anna had bought the makings of a massive lasagne with her she’d got on with cooking, especially as it was clear that Blandford wasn’t going to get to her statement today.

Elden was the first to speak. “I haven’t told the children yet but I can’t imagine they will be very upset.” He clearly viewed this sentence as self-explanatory, but, of course, Barry didn’t understand.

“Not upset?”

“Oh, yes, sorry, Janice and I have only been married for five years and to say she wasn’t a maternal type is the understatement of the century. The children live most of the time with their mother and we were seeing less and less of them. This week they are with my parents and next week I had planned to take them to our house in France on my own, just to spend some time with them.”

Everyone continued eating quietly, respecting Elden’s need to talk for as long as he wanted. “I realise that it was a mistake to marry Janice but I wouldn’t have wished this on her. Have the police said anything about what they think happened?” He looked around the table in anticipation.

“What? You mean apart from that you did it?” the laughter broke the tense atmosphere and Anthony’s witty retort earned him a slap on the back from Colin. Anna looked at Anthony. He was much younger than his partner and clearly spent much of his time working at the fitness club showing clients how to use the equipment. He was fit and lean with strong features and a broad smile. Probably very photogenic, Anna thought, marvelling that he was such an accepted member of the group, considering the age difference. On a roll now, Anthony continued, “Are we still going to get some golf in this week?”

“I don’t think it is appropriate for me to join you, but don’t let me stop you.” Elden was pragmatic. “I guess you’d better clear it with Blandford though.”

The men moved into the lounge after dinner. Anna hung back, not liking the assumption that the women would clear away, but wanting to be part of the conversation. Indra was subdued and Anna got the distinct impression that there was a complex history between her and Rebecca. In contrast, Rebecca chatted about her work, her exhibition and her frustration with Robert. It was clear that Janice and Elden’s wasn’t the only marriage that was difficult.

“What shall we do while the men are playing golf?” Anna tried to change the subject. “As they are going out that way, we could go to St Ives?”

Indra’s enthusiasm for the idea brightened her demeanour considerably. “Oh yes, I would like that” she declared. “Let’s go to the Tate Gallery, their coffee shop does amazing cake.” It wasn’t quite what Anna had in mind but she knew someone at work who would be thrilled with some Tate Art postcards. “That’s arranged then.”

 

Persuading Blandford to let them have a day “off” was surprisingly easy, especially as Elden was remaining behind and would be available for further questions. Following last night’s conversation in the lounge, Barry was of the opinion that, in concentrating heavily on Elden, Blandford didn’t seem to be making much headway. In contrast, Anna’s ability to listen, notice the detail and ask the right questions meant that she was, he thought, probably close to wrapping it up. As they travelled alone together in the car, it was a good opportunity to catch up.

“Most of the conversation in the lounge last night centred around the Fitness Club. They all seem to be involved in it but they can’t work out what’s going wrong” Barry began. “They are talking about bringing in a forensic accountant to go through all the books.”

“Elden, Robert and Neville have all put a lot of money into the business,” Anna replied. Barry had learned not to be surprised at what she knew, or ask how she knew it. “I would think analysing the accounts is going to give them answers they don’t want to hear. Did they talk about Janice’s involvement?”

“Briefly.” Barry replied. “From what they were saying, Janice and Colin worked together to set it up, drawing up the Business Plan, securing investors and purchasing equipment. I also think Janice was involved in appointing the first staff.”

“Now that is interesting,” Anna responded, “So it is likely that she bought Anthony in? I wonder if Colin knew him before he started working there?”

Barry wasn’t sure how that was relevant. “I’ll see if I can find out today.”

“Also see if you can find out if Janice was still involved in the payroll. It seems to me that Janice was intent on bringing the Fitness Club down,” Anna said thoughtfully. “It is strange after all the work she put in but I think she was manipulating everyone to try to make that happen.”

“Really?” Barry looked even more confused. “Why?”

“I’m not sure, maybe to punish Elden for the failure of their marriage and his siding with his children. She was clearly planning to discredit everyone in the group, one way or another.”

“Clearly,” Barry smiled, knowing that most people would join him in thinking that it wasn’t clear at all.

“I need you to do something for me today Barry, while you are playing golf. It is important but you have to be subtle.” Subtlety had never been Barry’s strong suit. “You are going to have to be observant. Look out for anything that isn’t quite right.”

“That isn’t much to go on,” Barry grumbled.

“I know, but if I tell you what I’m looking for you’ll be too obvious.”

Barry had to concede that his wife knew him well. “OK, I’ll do my best.”

Anna, Rebecca and Indra arrived in St Ives and headed straight for the coffee shop where they discovered that Indra had been right, they did sell amazing cake. Indra chose a huge slab of coffee cake. “I’m having a holiday from being a dentist,” she laughed. It was the first time Anna had really seen her smile and, as Rebecca went off in search of facilities, it seemed an appropriate time to ask Indra. “You are such a close knit group, how did you all meet?”

Indra was pleased to talk about her friends. “Well, Neville and I met at university and the practice opportunity came up in his home town after we graduated so we went for it. Neville, Robert and Elden were all thick as thieves at school along with Colin’s older brother, Jeremy, and that is how they got into golf, they played together as often as they could during the sixth form. How they all managed to get decent A Level results as well, I don’t know.” Anna laughed, pleased that Indra was opening up.

“Elden’s first wife was a local girl, she was lovely but she moved away when Elden’s head was turned by Janice, around the time she first started working with Colin on the Fitness Club.” Indra looked thoughtful, her love of gossip getting the better of her. “I think Colin is driven by the memory of his brother, Neville says it was always Jeremy’s dream to get into sports psychology, he’d accepted a place at Loughborough University.”

“Talking about me?” Rebecca bounded up to the table. “The ladies is miles away,” she laughed “what did I miss?”

Anna interrupted Indra’s denial that she had been the topic of conversation, “How did you meet Robert?”

“Oh, err, how dull, OK, well…” Rebecca seemed completely flummoxed by the question and took a sip of her coffee. “A boyfriend liked to play golf so I hung around in the club house on cold days and met Robert. He was so handsome and wise, a lot older than me of course, and when my boyfriend dumped me for someone else,” she shot a swift cautionary glance at Indra, “Robert was there for me and swept me off my feet.”

“Come on, lets get moving, I want to visit that fudge shop on the front after we’ve been round the gallery.” Indra bustled them all along on their afternoon exploration of St Ives.

“They are good golfers, that is for certain.” Later that night, after an evening meal of Chinese takeaway, courtesy of Neville and Indra, Anna and Barry took a walk down to the beach. Hand in hand, and with the light fading, they reached the sand and paddled in the lapping water. “I must get some more practice in if I want to keep up, Neville’s a left-hander like me but he’s got a much lower handicap.” Anna wasn’t really interested in their golf skills. “There are some things, to report,” he continued, smiling at her obvious impatience. “Firstly, Robert had to buy a new glove, which was odd because I was with him last weekend when he bought one at the club. He looked all through his bag but eventually just went back to the golf shop.” Anna looked thoughtful. “The second thing was that Neville couldn’t find his putter, can’t play without that, but we found it in Robert’s golf bag.”

“In Robert’s bag? Could it have fallen out in the boot room?” Anna asked.

“You tell me, you’re the only klutz when it comes to golf bags, everyone else manages to navigate around them.” Barry chuckled.

“The one and only time I’ve knocked them over, none of the clubs fell out and I didn’t see a glove, no” Anna replied indignantly, although she had to concede that golf bags did seem to throw themselves about when she was near.

“Things are becoming a lot more organised in my head now.” Anna waded a little deeper into the surf. “Janice had such a lot to be angry about, I just wonder who she pushed the hardest.”

“Are we in any danger?” It was the first time the thought had crossed Barry’s mind.

“I don’t think so,” Anna replied. “Of course I wouldn’t want to let the murderer know that they are about to be rumbled, so you might want to be careful what you say but I think this has been in the planning for a while, very clever it is too. We just need a few more strands of evidence to take to Blandford, he has got to be the one that concludes the case.”

“OK,” Barry pulled her away from a larger wave, “I don’t want to lose you, and I think our children would be quite upset,” he joked.

“Who would make your cheese rolls?”

“Quite.” Barry laughed “Disaster.”

Caution – Superficial blog alert!

She's devoted to her careerSometimes I like to shop. This doesn’t occur very often so I need to grab it when it happens and try to update my working wardrobe. I say ‘try’ because I am easily distracted by unsuitable-for-work shoes and anything in brown, which Barry insists is not professional.

So, having seen some other blogs giving advice on what to wear, I thought I’d offer my view…

First of all, the rules (there are always rules). On non-pupil days you can skip through the school in your pants for all I care, but when school is in session I have rules.

  1. Denim is for the weekend. I don’t want to see school staff in denim and those black denim jeans are going to have to be very fresh out of the shop to pass under my ‘scruffy’ radar.
  2. Men should wear a collar (sorry if that is sexist – but there it is). I can take or leave a tie but if you are going to wear one, it needs to be properly done up.
  3. Skirts – if I can see your pants, it is too short, if you trip on the stairs, it is too long.
  4. In my view, the demise of the ‘modesty panel’ is a sad loss, I don’t think the cleavage is an appropriate accessory in school workwear.

Now that is out of the way…what to wear? I do think men have it pretty easy anyway. They can go for the perfectly acceptable “smart casual” (see rule 2), or the suit. Women have it a little more tricky so read on.

The Suit – I like a suit. I feel in control, professional and smart, ready for anything the day might throw at me. I’ll wear a suit if I know I’ve got a sticky meeting. I quite like mis-matched (but complimentary) pieces and I like a proper shirt underneath. I don’t think you can go far wrong with M&S especially if you can throw it in the wash and then wave the iron over it for a return to good-as-new, all the better. (Link to the suit below)

Suit

The Dress – I am a bit of a sucker for the fitted dress. I have a few beautiful ones in my wardrobe, with a jacket or a cardigan you can feel smart and fabulous. I love Hobbs, which I know are a little more pricey but worth saving my pennies for I think. This one is gorgeous. (Link to the dress below) but I’m not sure I like the shoes, even if they are brown.

Dress

The Separates – OK, so most of my wardrobe is a mishmash of smart skirts and trousers, shirts and blouses, heels and flats, cardigans and jackets. This lets me ring the changes constantly depending on my mood and what I’ve got planned for the day. One find I’ve been pleased with recently is the shirtbody. I may be late to the party but all those female TV FBI agents must be keeping their shirts tucked in somehow, I thought. So I googled it and bought two. They have changed my life. (advice – go 2 sizes bigger than you normally would(Link to shirt below)

shirtbody

Finally, I have two more experiences to share on the working wardrobe;

  1. Clothes last much longer if you don’t wash them too often, you can either try not to break into a sweat at work if you can help it, or you can buy decent wicking underwear, which brings me to…
  2. In my experience of working in a school, you are going to need a vest. Yes, all year.

 

P.S. I’m just brazenly copying pictures of the clothing I like from websites, I have no links to anyone and I’m not getting anything in return. I’m practising for future funding linkage as, yes, I still need to work on earning that MUGA!

I want to be a Ginger Nut.

One of the things I find hard about being a blog writer is that there are many other bloggers out there writing similar stuff to me and, more often than not, setting their thoughts out in a more experienced and coherent way. (Yes, you know who you are.)

This could, of course, make me feel inadequate, imperfect and valueless. I could decide that, actually, someone else is already doing this much better than I can, so I’ll just stop, give up, concede defeat.
But then I remember that if everyone did that there is a lot in my life that I wouldn’t have. My Dyson for instance. Hoover had cornered the market to such an extent that their trade name became the generic name for that important piece of equipment Barry wields so well. Dyson came along and blew the whole market out of the water.

Dairy Milk is another example, as Fry’s were the first maker of the chocolate bar in the UK. And what about my car, my phone, my kettle? In fact, most of the stuff I own was produced by one of many competitors in its own marketplace and bought at a similarly competitive retail outlet, not directly from the someone who originally invented the product.

So where am I going with this?

Basically, my business training gives me the strength to know that my blog might be small but it is valuable (if only to me currently) and I won’t give up on it because I understand that there is room online for one more.

I may not be the most eloquent and I may not be the most knowledgable. My post timing might not be very consistent and my subject matter is, let’s be honest here, all over the shop. But I’m learning, I’m enjoying it and I’ve found things to talk about that are being read by a slowly increasing number of people.

I’m not expecting to make groundbreaking changes, nor am I expecting to provide earth-shattering content, I just aspire to be the Ginger Nut of the blogging world, (enjoyed, but not as popular as the Chocolate Digestive) and I would just like to think that sometime soon I’ll write something that inspires, reassures or entertains my reader so that they go into work with a spring in their step and that positive mental attitude we all wish we could maintain 24/7.

Perhaps you could let me know?

Pickled eggs is grounds for divorce

The time has arrived. Like I knew it inevitably would. I am starting this blog without any idea in my head of what it’s going to be about. I’ll decide on the title at the end.

I have so much swirling around my head this evening that it is difficult to produce much in the way of coherent thought. Perhaps if I list them here I can tease an interesting subject out…

1. The MAT budget. I’ve worked with the schools and got their budgets approved, all that is left is to join it all together, along with the central allocation budget, and it’ll be ready for Trustees. Then I will prepare to embark on deciphering the EFA budget return again so that I can hit the deadline of 31st July. At this time of year I always take a moment to thank my old monitoring system as it is relatively easy to manipulate into what the EFA wants as well as providing suitable outturns for Governors and SLT. It also doubles as a fantastic modelling tool so I can tell you instantly how much of an impact a p/t M6 is going to have on the budget in 2023!

2. A Midsummer Night’s Dream needs a backdrop. I’ve been hassling the Drama teacher to produce an outdoor Shakespeare play in our new amphitheatre (which sounds very grand, and is also a misnomer the Latin teacher tells me as it is not a complete circle – think large sunny patio with steep semi circular steps to sit on.) Anyway he has consented (and roped a few willing KS3 in) but the massive Dining Hall window will need covering with a curtain so I’ve agreed to get my sewing machine out!! The things I get myself into…

3. It’s spending fury time again. At this time of year we close down purchasing (or rather we tell everyone we have – of course if they need something we’ll accommodate them – I’ve been doing my current role for 6 years and you’d think someone would twig that we don’t actually close down!) All the budget holders frantically try to spend their budget by my “deadline” for fear I’ll take it away (I’ve never done that either!)

4. Pickled Onions. Having known Barry for 30 years it has just come to my attention this evening that he likes pickled onions! Yuk! I’ve made it quite clear that pickled eggs is grounds for divorce!

So that is four big things going on. I’ve also got website design, prospectus photography, other budgets modelling, a new building that got planning permission last week, grant evaluation returns and electricity that won’t go where I want it to (my senior caretaker eventually resorted to drawing me a diagram this afternoon). All with a month left until the summer break.

Sometimes I wonder who would be an SBM…you’re right, I love it!

P.S. And see? The title found itself!

Blog advice from someone who knows very little!

I was asked last week if I had any tips for starting a blog. My immediate reaction was “Heaven’s no, I’ve only been doing it a few months myself and I have to keep asking my own Blog Mentor what everything means.” However, on reflection, I must surely have learned something along the way, so I thought it would be good to get it out there so a) you will understand and forgive me if I’m still doing numpty things, and b) if you are starting a blog you can, hopefully, bypass all the mistakes I’ve made.

1) Understand in your own head why you are doing it. (Aside – Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk ‘Start with Why’ is one of the most inspirational presentations I have ever seen – google it). I started my blog as a way to distract me from the nitty gritty of my working day. Odd I know and you’re going to remind me that I blog about work, but I was lying awake at night thinking about budgets, buildings, staffing, reporting, HSW etc. now I lie awake at night thinking about my blog. (see? Problem solved.)

2) Keep reminding yourself why you are doing it. Of course it is lovely if people enjoy your blog and your followers grow in number, but if that is your only reason for doing it, you are going to run out of steam pretty quickly. When you start, stick your reason for blogging somewhere prominent. My fridge has got Jim Rohn’s quote emblazoned across it “Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” This not only reminds me that I am blogging for my own wellbeing and enjoyment of writing, but also reminds me to stay out of the fridge!

3) Keep your blogs short-ish. My attention span on my own blog is limited, so I can imagine what my visitors are thinking. Don’t think you can maintain their curiosity with your sparkling wit, repartee and infinite knowledge of your subject (you’ll know I can’t).

4) Stick to a subject and style. This doesn’t mean to say that you can’t ever change, but try to be consistent so your readers know what to expect. I once wrote a blog that was so way out of the ball park that no one was ever going to catch what I was talking about. But I went back to 2) and posted it anyway – it still makes me well up to read it, even though the stats show no one else is interested.

5) Write it – post it – move on. I have looked back at my first blogs and they are already truly cringe-worthy. I’d missed a shocking spelling mistake in one and been a bit too heavy handed in another. Never mind. Learn. Move on. (a good mantra for most things in life.)

6) Don’t let it become a chore. Blogging can be informative, critical, instructive, educational, cathartic, but most of all it should be fun, for you and the reader.

So the most important piece of advice I can convey in my short time in the blogging world is this…

Don’t care what anyone else thinks, take a deep breath and just go for it.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.