Paradise Wildlife Park in Broxbourne was the setting for Herts for Learning’s annual conference for school business managers on Tuesday 26th November.
This year’s conference focused on inspiring school business practitioners in their role and in their influence to shape a resilient and sustainable future for their school.
Motivational speaker Marcus Child set the tone for the day with his positive and thought-provoking keynote address. He believes that children naturally make pictures of their goals and dreams but over time, they start to diminish. He said “over time, we compromise, settle and put up with something smaller”. He continued: “It is important to question, what is your heart’s desire? Is the picture big enough?” He explained that if you get a group of people to get the same picture, such as work colleagues, it can be even more powerful.
Referencing the FIRO-B theory of American Psychologist William Schutz, Marcus discussed three main interpersonal needs: inclusion, control and openness without feelings. He said “true leadership starts with inclusion” and “together, we can make it other braver – we can’t do it alone”.
He also talked about the surprising findings of a Harvard study by Robert Waldinger, which concluded that it is our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships that has a powerful influence on our health.
Marcus discussed how as a secondary school teacher in Essex, he transformed a low O-Level pass rate in English into one that saw 139 out of 142 pupils achieve a grade C or above. He explained that the improvements came about because he instilled belief into his students, including former Republic of Ireland footballer Matt Holland, by repeatedly asking them about their goals and giving them the encouragement to succeed.
He translated his personal story into key messages that resonated with delegates to have a vision for themselves and their personal and professional impact. He encouraged them and their workforces to embrace change positively, bolster positive interactions with colleagues and customers; and to provide inspiring leadership.
The conference then went on to a series of workshops, covering the latest educational and professional developments.
Sandra Sculley, a DfE accredited School Resource Management Adviser (SRMA) led the first workshop entitled ‘ICFP: Why, what and how? Forward financial planning and resource management’. Sandra’s workshop went beyond the metrics of integrated curriculum and financial planning (ICFP). She explored the government initiative, the school resource efficiency approach, and strategies to enable business managers to protect the assets in their schools and its future sustainability.
Next, Tom Stenner-Evans, a partner in the Employment Team at Michelmores LLP led an interactive session, ‘how to structure your restructure’. With effective school resource management a high priority, the unfortunate reality is that restructuring and redundancy programmes are increasingly on the agenda in schools. Delegates were guided through a hypothetical scenario involving carrying out a restructuring exercise. The emphasis was not just on legal compliance but also on employee engagement during this often difficult time. Delegates left the session armed with a wealth of information to take back to their schools on best practice in this sensitive and complex area of employment law.
David Windridge, and Jessica Lumley, HR Advisers at HfL led a workshop on staff and team wellbeing for recruitment and retention. As resilience and wellbeing continue to be highlighted by staff within national surveys and by government as a key priority and concern within education, the HfL experts identified key resources and approaches for delegates to implement in their schools environment, to help them invest and inspire their teams.
David Windridge was joined Donia Knott, Business management consultant at HfL and Sharon Carlyon, Chief Operating officer at Inclusive Multi Academy Trust, who continued with the theme of strong and inspiring leadership. They discussed strategies and case studies of how school business leaders have promoted professional collaboration with the senior leadership team and governors and how this has had a positive impact on the school operation; sharing their key tips and approaches to building influence and rapport with key stakeholders.
At the end of the conference delegates were asked to formulate their goals, which were then written down and will be posted back to them after six months, as an opportunity to reflect on how they are progressing against those aims – bringing to life the ‘picture’ goal that Marcus had inspired within his keynote.
For further information regarding HfL’s services for School Business Managers, please visit Business Management Services.