Why Education Matters
Welcome to the School Financial Success blog, the place where we share information, news and views about the wonderful world of education, and school funding in particular.
For our first blog we wanted to share some of our personal stories, to illustrate why we think education matters and why it’s such a great field to work in. We aren’t teachers, but we support teachers and school leaders to make the most of their resources. At the heart of our work is a hope that we can help to make a better future for the children and young people in our schools.
Everyone is doing the best with what they have, but with a little extra help they can do so much more. We await the next stage of consultation on the new school funding arrangements with more than a little trepidation. It feels like storm clouds are gathering, not just in relation to funding but in all areas of education.
We need to batten down the hatches, get the sails in good order and prepare for a gruelling journey, focused on the end point when things settle down and we sail into calmer waters. Preparation is key; we hope to help by providing information on the funding changes and guidance on how you can start planning to regain a measure of control over what lies ahead. With strong financial leadership, you really can get through it.
So what is education and why does it matter? Here are our views.
Essential: learning is a fundamental right and privilege. It generates confidence and helps an individual to grow. There is no end to learning; we do it every day. It helps people to connect with one another, to express themselves and to be understood.
Powerful: those of you who work in schools have children’s futures in your hands. For a substantial part of the week during their formative years, you have the opportunity to pique their curiosity, to open their minds to the world, to show them what they can achieve if they put their mind to it.
Fulfilling: in a school, every day you can see evidence of the impact of what you do, whatever your role. If you are supporting schools, your impact is indirect, but just as important, providing a service that meets other needs of pupils or staff, freeing up teachers to spend time on teaching and learning, or releasing resources to target to those who need extra help.
Sometimes frustrating: when government constantly changes the rules, often for short term political expediency. Education is for the life of the child, not the life of a parliament. But there is no alternative but to comply where you have to, and try to continue to bring creativity and excitement into the learning where it really matters – in the classroom.
Why does education matter to us personally?
Education wasn’t a particularly high priority in my family, so I wouldn’t say I was exactly encouraged to do well, but I loved school and somehow created my own competitive ethos. In fact, I spent every hour I could there, whether singing in the choirs, playing in the orchestra, performing in shows, or going to debating society meetings or on wonderful archaeological society trips in an old battered van (with sideways benches in the back), which certainly wouldn’t pass health and safety checks nowadays.
When my English teacher said ‘You should go to university’ I replied ‘What’s university?’ She explained, and I went along with it. There I found another world. My eyes were opened to the power of knowledge, the diversity of people and new opportunities; I gained a confidence I didn’t know I had, and never looked back.
I will forever be grateful to Miss Bone for that single comment. It changed my life. In my opinion, there is no doubt I would not have risen to be an Assistant Director in a local authority if I hadn’t pursued education up to degree level, followed it up with an accountancy qualification and seized every opportunity that was presented to me. The fulfilment I’ve experienced through trying new things and striving to do the best I can has been incredible.
Having seen the difference it’s made to my life, I want every child to have the same chances: to see the value of learning and be the best they can possibly be.
I could never be a teacher, but I have the greatest respect for those who are, and particularly for those who go on to be school leaders. They have huge responsibilities and the demands placed on them are often unreasonable, but they build a team around them and work tirelessly to make the magic happen.
All through my career I’ve tried to understand what they do, what they need, and how I can best support them. Whether that’s been through helping them to understand the funding system, providing a better school improvement/SEN/governor support/data/admissions/school meals/asset management service, or simply guiding them to the best source of support, I have always tried to keep my focus on the bigger picture: what helps the children.
I had no idea what I wanted to do when I left school. I enjoyed learning, was a good all rounder and would have happily stayed in education forever, if there had been a salary attached, because I just wanted to learn something every day.
I pursued a career in accountancy more because I thought I might be good at it rather than it being a lifelong dream or a passion. I started in private practice but when the opportunity came up to use my skills and qualifications and apply them in the world of education finance in a secondary school I jumped at the chance.
At 23 I was offered the role of School Business Manager and a position on the Senior Leadership Team. My former Headteacher, John Bate, told me ‘If you’re good enough, you’re old enough’ and I took that as my invitation to prove that I was good enough.
Working in a school has opened up a whole new world for me and I now can’t imagine working in any other type of organisation. It is a highly pressured, fast paced, constantly changing environment and my character and leadership are tested frequently, but it is also incredibly rewarding. I only have to look into the courtyard to see the red jumpers of our distinctive school uniform, stop to chat to children in the corridor, thank a child who has held a door open for me or be blown away by an uplifting academic mentoring session with a Year 11 student to be reminded why I work so hard and why I do what I do. School concerts and productions are the icing on the cake; witnessing the growth and development of our young performers as they take huge strides in building their confidence in preparation for the adult world.
I see the challenges that teachers and support staff face on daily basis and I know that it is by working together as a strong collective workforce that we can make the biggest differences to a child’s life.
I am learning everyday from everyone around me so that I can offer the most effective support to my colleagues who work relentlessly and tirelessly to get the best out of our children. I strongly believe that all children deserve the best possible education and as school leaders we owe it to them to share our knowledge and expertise for the greater good.
So having explained why we are so passionate about education, it’s with tremendous excitement that we’ve joined forces to set up our enterprise. We hope to raise the profile of school funding and support school leaders, whether they be (existing and aspiring) headteachers, deputies or assistant heads, school business managers or governors with financial responsibilities.
Our plans are for a range of support, through blogging, newsletters, books, online courses, and webinars. But we want to know what would be most helpful to you. What topics would you like us to cover? What aspects of school funding do you find most difficult to understand and work with?
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