School Business Leadership

Don’t pigeon-hole me.

A hosepipe ban serves to remind me how precious and limited our natural resources actually are, and an SBM is always acutely aware that all our school equipment and assets are limited by our ability to fund and replace them. In such tight and uncertain times in education, the value of all our resources is greatly enhanced and I find myself resenting any kind of waste.

How many times have you walked around your school turning off lights and computer screens, putting the lid back on the gluesticks so they don’t dry out, convinced your caretaker not to throw that old desk out because you never know when desks with flip lids might come back into fashion (or surely the History department will want to use it to demonstrate education at the turn of the last century!) and who else re-uses paper that has gone blankly through the photocopier as a notebook? (I quite like to sew it together with old string as it reminds me of my Gran who could hoard for Britain)

I’m not, by nature, a hoarder but I do struggle to part with anything that I think might be useful or valuable to someone.

Take staff pigeon-holes.

At my school we have had a rather ugly plastic bucket system since I arrived. They have a large capacity but they take up a whole wall, they are used as a paper-you-don’t-want-to-look-at storage facility and I can’t describe the things we find in them at the end of the school year without putting you off your tea. They will be useful for all sorts of other storage around the school when split into smaller units and the caretaker is getting very excited about organising his “nuts, bolts and barleymow” when I have found a solution.

Our new staff wellbeing group (see earlier blogs) has decided that a change is needed in our staff room to encourage more staff to use the area and I’ve been tasked with sourcing an alternative pigeon-hole system to free up much-needed space.

It is more difficult than you would think.

I’ve found some interesting ideas on ebay, but they are either one small single unit with 20 holes (and we need 100) or they are massive ‘classic and distressed’ LP holders which, on closer inspection, are riddled with woodworm and unlikely to survive the journey from the front door to the staff room, let alone delivery from the current owner!

I’m discovering that new pigeon-hole systems are either REALLY expensive, very flimsy (made of cardboard), or the holes are so tiny you’d be lucky to squeeze one DL envelope inside, which makes me wonder what we will do with all the staff Amazon deliveries at Christmas?

Strangely, manufacturers also believe that it is acceptable to build a pigeon-hole unit nearly 2 metres high. How many staff in your school could reach their hole if their name starts with an A? I know my Finance department would have no chance! And who doesn’t like to surreptitiously take a look inside their space as they walk past? An eye-level pigeon-hole is a wonderful thing of ease and beauty!

So, I’m still working on this task (I’d be pleased to receive a photograph of your school’s pigeon-hole system to give me ideas – tweet me @workingsbm2017) but you might be interested to hear that I have also considered the following solution suggestions;

  1. What about the D&T department students making one? Um, yes, that would be lovely but I need it for September
  2. What about having it made by a local carpenter? Good idea but an expensive option.
  3. What about the do-nothing option? This is presently looking a more likely outcome than I would wish, but if we don’t reduce the size of the pigeon-holes we haven’t got room for the other facilities that we need to install.
  4. What about reducing the number of buckets so that staff share? (If you’ve made this suggestion you’re clearly new to the role of SBM) No, not an option.
  5. What about making it myself? Yes, I did actually consider this. How difficult can it be? Bit of dove-tail joints, router work and wood glue? Then I remembered the auditors are arriving on the 24th September.

So come on people. I need ideas. Are you looking to expand your pigeon-holes into large capacity buckets?

We could swap?


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