March 2021 by Ji Li, published on Spectator Schools Supplement March 2021 Issue

The coronavirus pandemic thrust the UK’s public sector and key workers into the spotlight last year. Clap for Carers captured the nation’s imagination, proving a moment of unity during the bleakest months of 2020. While the phenomenon rightly paid tribute to the NHS, our schools did not receive the same outpouring of support. In particular, the people underpinning vital school operations and communications across the UK received nary a mention. The unsung heroes of our schools — the school business managers, bursars and administrative teams.

So what are SBM roles? If a headteacher is the brain of a school, the admin team is the heart that keeps the blood pumping across the system. Pre-pandemic, admin staff were often wrongly seen as front desk receptionists and secretaries who deliver tea and biscuits to visitors. Almost overnight, school admin roles had to add the roles of communicator, IT support and financial advisors for both internal staff and parents/carers to an already busy list of responsibilities. As can be imagined, this put many SBMs in a difficult position working with families and schools often lacking sufficient IT provision or skills.

SBMs were also stuck in the middle of the nation’s political dramas, with schools opening and closing multiple times through 2020. In many ways, schools are lucky the pandemic happened in the 21st century. Today, this can at least communicate via digital platforms. What if this had happened back in the 1990s? Lots of faxes, photocopying and post? Oddly, SBM job descriptions still include responsibilities such as photocopying, filing and answering the telephone and haven’t evolved to reflect the ‘new normal’.

In The Lord of the Rings, Samwise Gamgee played the role of sidekick to the main hero, Frodo, during their journey to Mount Doom. However the crucial role he played definitely marked him as one of the story’s unsung heroes. At Plum, we appreciate the unsung heroes. We recognise that an effective and smooth infrastructure and operation model is a vital part of any school development plan. We work closely together with both headteachers and business managers to assist school staff and help them succeed in their professional fields with an efficient and solid IT platform. Get in touch if you think we could help your school.

https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/the-unsung-heroes

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