Every man for himself? by Emma Gray

By @WorkingSBM


I grew up in a fairly gender neutral environment. No one was going to tell me I couldn’t do something just because I was a girl and my parents were behind me at every step. I’ve tried hard to do the same in my own family but with a 5:2 ratio of boys to girls, likely to become 7:5 when they all have partners (you do the maths), we females have had to stand our ground! “Every Man for Himself!” was often a cry as they made their own drinks, sorted their own clothes and fought over the remote control for rugby, music or an episode of Star Trek. But, like every family, we always work together and we share socks.


As a School Business Leader of 15 years I always felt uncomfortable with the rather insular and self-protective attitude that could, until recently, be found in schools. It didn’t seem to matter that we were all working to achieve the same aim, the best results and experience for our pupils. It didn’t seem to matter that we were actually very alike as personalities, clearly capable of doing greater things together than we ever could in our own self-made splendid isolation. I always had the feeling that Local Authorities encouraged the disconnected attitudes so that their own services could remain viable. God forbid we should start supporting each other for free! “Every Man for Himself!” could easily have been a School mantra.


So, have you noticed how the times they are a-changin’? It’s clear to me that School Business Leaders are fronting the charge with real collaboration, support for each other and an inclination to share experience and resources, setting an excellent example for other school leaders and promoting a hugely positive vision for school operations of the future.


Of course, there are the nay-sayers. Those that are frightened by change. Those that shout about the mistakes and failures, drowning out those that are creating practical and compliant processes that can be used to support smaller, or less well-resourced with experience, schools. We mustn’t let them succeed in their wish to “return to the old days”.


School Business Leaders, in my experience, want to work together, they want to take what they have learned in the form of process, procedures, policies, experiences (good and bad), and presentations, and share it with others, understanding that we will all benefit in the long run. Thankfully we’re also moving away from the secondary-supporting-primary posture, recognising the huge breadth of experience, skills and qualifications that exists in our schools, big or small, city or rural, north or south, whatever the phase or sector.


There is no doubt that now is a hugely exciting time to be a School Business Leader. Our profession is thundering into the forefront of School Leadership best practice, and bringing the rest of the SLT with it. It is us that will be leading our schools into the ‘Roaring Twenties’, working together to achieve the very best outcomes for our pupils by securing the most efficient financial practices, procuring the best resources, creating safe and vibrant environments, recruiting and training effective teams, and collaborating with our colleagues both locally and nationally.

So, for anyone not yet on board…in the words of Jean-Luc Picard, “Engage”.


Get yourself involved, be part of the Findel Smart Ordering community, take a look at #SBLTwitter, join your local and national networks, start offering your experience and skills to other schools. You will be amazed at what you can learn in return, the positive attitudes and the willingness to share that is already out there.


Now, who’s wearing my socks?