Guest Blogs

Taking it personally…and baked beans

@HertsSBM knows that the School Business Manager should be resilient and grow a thick skin. But in this blog she declares that she is going to to continue taking it personally…or else go back to baked beans.

taking it personally...and baked beans

I genuinely love being an School Business Manager.  It’s full of variety, hands on, I like the people I work with, I know I’m making a tangible difference and I get the flexibility I need at this point in my life for my family.  I dare not work out the real hourly rate for what I get paid, or compare it to my previous salary in industry, but it doesn’t matter – there are things which are more important.

Yet for all that, there are parts I hate. 

I’m not overly political, and so I’m trying not to let cynicism get in the way, but I am truly angry about how funding – and in particular, special needs funding – is so broken.  With no funding for children who need it, we have no choice but to cut support for those children and ultimately fail them. That is not in their best interests. It is forcing school leaders to choose allocating a scant Teaching Assistance resource between one child or many.

The much publicised 12% increase in SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) funding is a joke.  We have children for whom we don’t even bother applying for additional funding because there’s no point – why do all that work when the most needy, the most exceptional get turned down anyway?

I’m looking at this from both sides

This is a system which is nigh on impossible to navigate.  As an SBM with a child who has SEND, I have the unenviable delight of seeing this from both school and parent sides. 

As a parent, unless you have the time, the energy and pushiness to keep going, keep challenging, you stand no chance.  And even if you do – the odds are stacked against you.  The system is woefully under resourced, with mainstream schools expected to do more and more with less and less, with specialist provision being closed, with local authority SEND teams being ‘restructured’ again and again.  In two years, we have had five different special needs officers from the local authority.  I don’t even know who the latest is.  The last three haven’t even been in role long enough to meet me or my child.

Teachers don’t come into education to let children down or to not allow them to be the very best they can be. Now, being closer to the coalface, I see this happening on a day to day basis.  We’re about to lose one of our most experienced, most inspirational teachers largely because of this.  Nobody at school can magic up the money for this.  It’s not our governors’ fault, it’s not the parents’ fault. It’s definitely not the child’s fault. 

I refuse to stop caring

I started writing this blog thinking I was going to ponder resilience and the SBM, the need for a thick skin, the need just to keep focused on the important things.  And whilst that is undoubtedly true (along with an equivalent to a swear box for the number of times a day someone says to me ‘have you got a second….’) I think actually I’ll keep my thin skin. 

Instead I’ll add ‘taking it to heart’ as one of my mental list of essential requirements for an SBM.   The day I stop caring and stop being angry about this is the day I’ll go back to analysing baked bean sales….

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