Martin Matthews: The school, the governor and the SBM

Martin Matthews: The school, the governor and the SBM

The governing bodies of schools are a guiding hand in how a school is managed – and can be a crucial point of support for the SLT. Martin Matthews looks at the school, the governor and the SBM and the parts each play

Whoever works with a school must never forget that children are the focus; this is at the heart of every school organisation. I use the word organisation deliberately, as the education of children is delivered by more than educators. Teachers are the core of what a school does but others also contribute to school being the very best it can be. A well maintained, clean and resourced classroom is the combined effort of many different people.

I see schools as a structure of three components; educators, administrators and governance. The strength of the working relationship between these strands provides a resilience to enable least disruption to children if any one area is in flux e.g. recruiting a new headteacher.

The school team ensures that a safe, engaging environment enables teachers to be their best

Educators are the most important part of a school; they are who educates children. Teaching today is a physically and mentally demanding job, no one should forget that. Teachers couldn’t do their job without the other staff though! Everyone cleaners, site staff, administrators and governors contribute to school success. Children need doors that don’t stick, clean chairs and tables, pencils and a whole host of other things. The school team ensures that a safe, engaging environment enables teachers to be their best.

The value of SBMs

I often talk to non-teaching staff. I value their opinions as they know what’s going on and their diligence adds to school success. They care that children receive the best education and endeavour to ensure money is not wasted. They do their job diligently and care that it’s as good as it can be.

They will enable financial efficiency and thus diminish the likelihood of redundancies and maintain the resources teachers need

Administrators support teachers to be their best. The efficient use of school finances to provide the appropriate and most cost-effective resources is not easy. A good school business manager (SBM) will be worth their weight in gold over the next few years. They will enable financial efficiency and thus diminish the likelihood of redundancies and maintain the resources teachers need. Governors value the input of SBM’s at meetings, they provide the background to decision making and insight into future planning. I’ve known many excellent SBM’s who are governors. They are articulate, caring and provide a unique perspective.

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The questions that must be asked

Governors are the third strand of an effective school. In every strong organisation there has to be a balance within the structure. Investing too much power in one part causes an imbalance which destabilises the whole.  Governors ask if a proposed school radio station is better impact or value than a teacher and a teaching assistant for the same cost. We set the budget, performance manage the headteacher, hire senior leaders and support school.

When these three aspects of school have strong professional working relationships it’s the most sustainable and robust organisation. This protects the structure against the occasional bump in the road which happens to all schools.

Value all staff and consider their CPD and professional development; encourage governors to understand more of their role (there is a vibrant and supportive governor community on Twitter and Facebook) and your school will be stronger. Get everyone to work together and suddenly it becomes a little easier!

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