Christmas, already? by Emma Gray

The second half of the autumn term, or “Christmas term” as we often call it, is usually a mad whirlwind of activity for the School Business Manager and I always start out with a resolution to pace myself through it so that I don’t end up running around like an exhausted headless chicken!

You’d think, after all this time, that I would have learnt how to do this but I’m always caught out by the time the holiday comes around. So I thought I’d share my ‘Pace It’ plan with you, perhaps you’ve got some suggestions of your own and we can put them altogether into a definitive plan for the SBM at this time of year.

  1. Be gentle with yourself at the beginning. This is a long, dark term but it’s not going anywhere fast, and to start with, you’ll be fooled into thinking that it is going to be a breeze.
  1. Write a list of the ‘must do’s’ that are specific to your school. My list comprises of;
    • Audit Return deadline
    • Condition Improvement Fund Bid deadline
    • Open Events and Parents Evenings
    • Governors meetings
    • October and November Management Information
    • Support Staff Performance Review
    • Workforce Census
    • Staff Wellbeing Initiatives
    • Children in Need
    • Remembrance Day
    • Christmas Fayre
    • End of Term festivities


Of course, I don’t do all of this on my own, but those are the headline tasks I feel responsible for. After these are set in stone on your to-do list you can add in all those ‘can you just?’ jobs that we get every day. Then you can start to add in all the personal tasks; shopping, planning, cooking, decorating…phew! I feel worn out already.


  1. So, you’ve made a list (and you’ve checked it twice). Start planning when every task is going to be completed and hopefully that will give you a structure to work to. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Believe me, I know it is not. Someone is bound to throw in a curve ball, but I always think if you have got a clear plan to work to, it makes it easier to stick a “Christmas is Cancelled Today” sign on your door when you know that deadline is looming and everything has to stop until its done.
  2. Make sure you give yourself some time to enjoy the season. Go to the Remembrance assembly and the School Nativity, dress up in a funny costume for Children in Need, sign up for Secret Santa, try to prioritise your own wellbeing alongside everyone else’s.
  1. Don’t forget about the fundamentals of wellbeing – Sleep, eat properly (a tin of Quality Street does not count as an evening meal), exercise and try to spend time doing something that you enjoy.
  1. Remember that you don’t have to do EVERYTHING! You can help organise the Christmas Fayre but you don’t have to go every year. If there is nothing that concerns you on a Governor’s agenda, send your apologies. Sit on your hands occasionally when they are looking for volunteers. ‘Balance’ is what it is all about. You’re no good to anyone if you succumb to the winter bugs.

So, that is where I start. Bright and bouncy at the beginning of a new term. Determined to see out the end of the term in the same manner (but often failing dismally). The most important thing of all is to remember that this term is fun but it absolutely whips by. Before you know it, you’ll be sitting down to Christmas dinner and thinking about your new year resolutions.