The last time I posted a blog piece I was celebrating getting through to February half term and being officially half way the through the year in my new role. Little did I know that things were about to take such a turn.
I had a really productive half term. I spent some time making sure everything was in order for my forthcoming finance audit, visited a fellow SBM to get some much valued advice and guidance on how to approach my first go at setting a budget in a secondary school and I managed to fit in two days annual leave for some family time (and a visit to the hairdressers!).
The first week of Term 4 came and I had my finance audit. As usual I’d worked myself up into a state for no reason and things ran very smoothly. Two days with quite a pleasant auditor and some lovely feedback at the end of it.
The end of the week saw me going off to a neighbouring school to do some training on our new finance budgeting system (Access). It was a full day’s training but by lunch time I was getting messages from my school about an extraordinary “Cobra” meeting for the Leadership Team to discuss the worrying spread of this new Coronavirus. As I couldn’t attend I feed into the meeting virtually but by the end of play on Friday I had penned an addition to our Business Continuity Plan with regard to pandemics and it had been sent to governors. We felt quite prepared. At that point there were around 30 cases of Coronavirus in the U.K.
And then I blinked! Here we are in the midst of a national lockdown. The month of March saw more and more positive cases of Covid-19 (as we’d now started to refer it). We had some pupils having to isolate due to them or their family members displaying symptoms but there were no confirmed cases in our school community. Life carried on as normal but with as much distancing as is possible in a large London secondary school. Every day seemed to bring a new development. A new case of isolating to be recorded. Teachers requesting deep cleaning for their classrooms. Pupils wanting to wear masks to lessons. The list goes on.
Our Leadership briefings became more frequent. Contingency planning was my best priority with “normality” going out the window. Governor meetings postponed meaning budgets not able to be signed off as per other years. On a daily basis I was having to authorise additional spending – first for extra cleaning supplies and sanitiser, then for extra supply staff to cover isolating teachers.
Shortly after this the nationwide lockdown was announced and this included schools being closed. Or did it? We learned that we were to stay open to cater for the children of keyworkers as well as our most vulnerable students. As such we stayed opened including being open during the school holidays.
So fast forward to today and we are looking at a new way of working. School Business Leaders all over the place stepped up to the challenge. Within a matter of days arrangements had been made for skeleton staffing and information gathered about vulnerable staff and pupils. Many SBLs have implemented remote working protocols whilst trying to complete their year end and budget setting exercises.
This was not how I imagined the first year in my new school to map out but like everyone else I’m rolling with the punches and taking it one day at a time.