School Business Leadership

Projecting Professionalism, or…’Something inside so strong.’

In true ‘Real David Cameron’ style, this blog has got to come in with an anthem. I’m going for ‘Adventure of a lifetime’ by Coldplay.

Oh, you make me feel like I’m alive again

Because after 2 days at the ISBL National Conference, that’s how I feel. Like I’ve had an injection of inspiration, new ideas and positivity.

Events, exhibitors, keynote speakers, workshops, a school choir, the gala dinner, information sharing, international speakers, motivational speakers, wonderful freebies, wine, entertainment…it’s been an amazing whirlwind of activity, introductions and learning.

I’ve met some friends I only knew behind a twitter handle. I’ve met SBMs from all over the country and beyond, I’ve met genuine and supportive suppliers and, of course, I’ve met the hard-working ISBL team who put it all together.

At this point, I’m going to do a little dance to another anthem; ‘Fire’ by Gavin DeGraw.

Oh ever since the dawn of mankind we all belong to a tribe. It’s good to know this one’s mine”

I’ve never felt more part of a clan of kindred spirits. Day One bought out the ‘big gun’ speakers, the movers and shakers in the DfE, ISBL and ASBO. Stephen Morales CEO told us, “I want to make sure that the entire sector recognises what the good and outstanding SBL looks like.” But he warned us that as our profile grows so will the scrutiny, and we must make a commitment to continuous improvement, projecting our own professionalism at all times.

Collaboration was a key theme of the whole event. Leora Cruddas, CEO of the Confederation of School Trusts, told us that a school’s autonomy should only serve the interests of the students, not the adults. She talked about trust in the sector and asked us to consider a PESTLE analysis of education, and our role within it, telling us that it is the ‘group’ that creates the powerful organisation. Leora ended with a beautiful quote from Kofi Annan;

“There is no trust more sacred than the one the world holds with children”

Professor Karen Starr had traveled all the way from Deakin University in Australia to talk to us about Leadership and urged us to think about the word not as a person or a position, but a verb. It’s incredible to think that schools in Australia, who may be different in many aspects, face many of the same issues as us; funding shortfalls, aging infrastructure and growth in complexity and scope of our role.

Day Two, with a few sore heads after the wonderful “networking” opportunity that was the Gala Dinner, our Chair, Matthew Clements-Wheeler asked us to think about where we actually fit into the new agenda and introduced the amazing speaker that is ‘Real David Cameron’. I can’t lie, I was blown away by the energy he bought to his speech. I loved his comparison of Leadership lessons from Brexit and Leadership lessons from the Summer 2018 World Cup. His key theme showed that how you behave as a leader is more impactful than policies and procedures, explaining that care and empathy for our whole community will help us all work together to embrace the changes taking place.

I loved that he told us that;

Answers don’t come from the soloists, they come from the choir.”

I want to embrace singing with my fellow SBMs (even though they wouldn’t let me at the microphone at ‘The Greatest Showman’ themed pre-conference evening do!) and it brings to mind another anthem, by Labi Siffre, that I’ve used as an alternative title to this blog.

The more you refuse to hear my voice (ooh-weh ooh-weh ooh-weh ooh-weh). The louder I will sing.”

I am so proud to be singing with my ISBL and ASBO colleagues and I will share with you the final words of the conference;

  • Be ambitious and realistic on what you can achieve
  • Be optimistic on your own ability to make changes that impact students
  • Take control of the agenda
  • Reach out and collaborate

After a MASSIVE thank you to everyone at ISBL who worked so hard and gave us a wonderful and inspiring conference, to those colleagues who flew from far away to be with us, to those workshop leaders, speakers, entertainers and exhibitors, I’m walking off to ‘Sing’ from Glee;

Sing it out. Girl, you’ve got to be what tomorrow needs. For every time time, that they want to count you out, use your voice every single time you open up your mouth.

Let’s all demonstrate our strength as a profession and sing together.

See you all again soon.

Emma xx

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