ASCL’s annual Conference for Business Leaders is fast becoming the biggest event of the school business leaders and managers' year, prising even the most time-obsessed of us away from our seemingly never-ending to-do lists within our schools. Let's face it, we’re a picky breed when it comes to the use of our time, but perhaps we have become too obsessed with the equation time = money?
Being away from school even for one day must provide value for money and I believe this conference won’t let you down, from ASCL’s inspirational funding consultant Sam Ellis and his energy in making budget challenges so entertaining, to direct input from those making decisions about schools.
Workshops – working for you and your school
This year’s workshops include a broad range of subjects covering the wide spectrum of roles and school structures, and also whatever career stage or whatever challenges you're currently exploring.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to attend them all so before you attend, perhaps consider your top three concerns at your school or group of schools and match these to the workshops. What will have an impact on you and your school, what’s relevant to your context? Finance, budgets, income generation and making efficiencies remain key themes in this year’s programme. A particular favourite is Sam Ellis’ timetabling workshop; many business leaders and managers I speak to tell me they need to work more closely with curriculum and timetabling colleagues than ever before to ensure staffing efficiencies are realised.
This year, I am on the panel of one of the new interactive surgeries, Being an active member of ASCL – what it means to be a representative of ASCL Council. We are inviting delegates to join me and other business leader Council members to talk about the work ASCL is doing on behalf of our profession and what we as council members contribute to the continuing debate on the educational landscape.
The full schedule is available here, so start planning your workshops now.
Looking after the profession
During such a critical time for the sector there are a variety of feelings ranging from excitement to anxiety about change within education generally, but particularly within the education business profession. This conference gives us a chance to see how ASCL is supporting us, and I am sure one question is: “How will the White Paper affect me and my school?” Now is arguably one of the most important times in the last decade for us as a profession to influence what the future brings. Instead of having it 'done' to us, we must speak to and work with our professional association to make sure the voice of the people who know about efficiencies, know about leadership and the complexities of the business of running a school get involved.
Rising to the challenge
Hearing direct from the people who represent us and our profession, as well as networking with hundreds of business leaders from across the country reminds me of how proud I am to be part of a profession which has gone through over a decade of immense change and risen to the challenge as a highly respected professional body, making a difference to the life chances of the children we help educate.
I doubt any of us at last year’s conference could say we weren't awe struck by key speakers such as Everest-scaling Bonita Norris. This year, I’m really looking forward to hearing from DfE’s Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Sam Gyimah and Chief Executive of National Governors Association Emma Knights, scaling their own heights within education.
So let's continue to inspire and be inspired as a profession, let’s network, share great practice and ideas and be positive about our roles and our value. The ‘quiet revolution’ within our profession has happened; we know our business, let's shout loud and tell our own stories about what we know works in schools, for our profession certainly, but ultimately for young people's life opportunities and making the most of the public purse, helping achieve the best outcomes for pupils in all our schools.
So if you’ve never been before, or if you’ve heard of it but you’ve always been too busy, give the conference a second thought. I challenge even the most obsessive time-optimist business leader or manager out there to tell me this conference won't be the best use of your time this year - see you there!
• Plan ahead: consider your top three issues and match to a workshop or surgery, with three sessions and the most popular repeated, you should be able to attend a good selection
• Maximise the impact of the day by bringing a colleague if you can and attend even more workshops between you
• Burning questions: with opportunities to network with workshop leaders, speakers and colleagues, start planning your questions now
• Get an early start – registration opens earlier this year at 8am, with breakfast available
• Don’t forget to bring lots of business cards for the many networking opportunities
• Follow news and updates before, during and after the conference on Twitter with #BLconf16
ASCL's Conference for Business Leaders takes place on 9 June at Birmingham Hilton Metropole - click here to book a place and view the wide-ranging programme of speakers, workshops, surgeries and exhibition.