It doesn’t seem 5 minutes ago that that Easter was here, the budget was still trying to get balanced (LA maintained Secondary) and the thought of summer was way, way in the distance. Yet, here we are with little time to get everything sorted.
There has been much debate on #SBLTwitter in recent times on the pressure that colleagues are finding themselves under at the moment, as we come to end of term 6 and the academic year. I thankfully am someone that works all-year-round (AYR) and have an arrangement with my Headteacher where I take the last 2 weeks off in June as annual leave. This is an essential part of my personal wellbeing programme, as it provides a break right at the very point where the pressure in schools starts to build before the end of term. It also means that I am essentially in work over the entire summer break – wedding anniversary aside – so can concentrate on getting the school up to speed during this time in preparation for September.
You're really on your own as an AYR SBM in summer
Contrary to popular belief and obvious misconception, there is no army of magic helpers that get this done during the holidays. Term 7, as I like to call the holiday period, is by no means a walk in the park and can often be as busy for the SBM as a normal term with staff and student in attendance. Quite how term-time-only (TTO) colleagues do it is worthy of something from the annual honours list in my opinion.
I am not sure if @JustChezBubbles is running her excellent #SBMStepsChallenge over the summer but in my experience, I get more steps in during the summer working day than in normal term time.
My planning for summer will start more or less when the budget is known from the LA. I sit down with the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) and discuss what is wanting to be achieved during the next financial year. The school development plan will be used, as will any inspection reports and a plan will be structured both in terms of academic priorities and in relation to the needs of stakeholders with regards to the premises. As I’m based in Wales, it is very much a one hit approach with the budget and is rare for any ad-hoc additional funding to be given for capital projects throughout the year.
Many major projects take place when staff and pupils leave
This year for example, our main projects involve improving IT infrastructure by increasing the number of PC’s for students use, implementing top end computer facilities for Design Technology in response to the interest in CAD and replacing the whole school telephone system.
Now, in addition to the above, term 7 for me means making sure that as much as possible is achieved in preparation for September and the new academic year. Using the ISBL framework of the main elements of our role, the following is a list of what I will be aiming to get completed before September. This is not an exhaustive list by any means and term 7 can have a knack of throwing a curveball situation that can put paid to getting all the tick list sorted.
- Notification of staff leaving to payroll to make sure they aren’t paid beyond end of contract.
- New starters to be processed for DBS and Education Workforce Council (EWC) registration prior to taking up role.
- Support staff performance management cycle paperwork prepared for issue in September.
Annual servicing and tasks in relation to:
- School boiler and gas safety systems
- Equipment servicing in DT, Science and PE
- Service of ventilation plants for swimming pool and school kitchen
- Air conditioning plant servicing
- Portable appliance testing
- Fire alarm annual check
- Painting and redecoration of all corridors and stairwells
- Painting of classrooms in accordance with plan
- Deep cleaning of school kitchen
- Deep clean of classrooms and offices
- Budget monitoring into Quarter 1
- ParentPay review of income, closing down of student/staff leaver accounts and creating new ones.
Most of this will have already been done for the work identified as needing to be done during term 7. However, right up until the end of term 6 and with a usual last-minute rush, orders for items needed for September will be handed into the Finance office for dealing with over term 7.
New year 7 and 12 starters for school transport and timetable/route reviews ready for circa 450 students in September.
In addition to the above list, whilst thankfully less busy with telephone calls, emails and staff interruptions - there will be the general running of the school to manage. Often it will just be me left to run the school over the holidays with 2 or 3 other staff.
In summary, what many think of as the quiet time for schools is anything but. The work behind the scenes to orchestrate getting everything ready for the new academic year is largely unseen by many. In many schools up and down the country this is the time for School Business Managers that “the magic really does happen”.
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This article forms part of our Smarter SBM series, which supports the launch of our new Smart Ordering solutions. Informed by SBMs and created for school offices. Smart Ordering is range of great online tools that can transform a school’s office with a smarter way of purchasing. It has been developed by the team at Hope Education to help save schools time and money, by making the process of buying school supplies faster, smoother and more affordable.