Over the last couple of days there has been a surge of activity amongst the #SBLTwitter community, a drive to increase our numbers and get them on our #SBLTwitterMap, we’ve now got 250 on there! Then @JustChezBubbles created the @SbmMentors twitter account so SBLs can offer to mentor or request a mentor, this has already proven to be of real interest to lots of people and it’s great to see the offers of support being made. Following @sbl365’s 20th blog since setting herself a target of writing a blog a day, she has created @SBLconnect to share details of SBL network groups, meetings or conferences using the #sblconnect. This is something I jumped on! I’ve been involved with the North Somerset network group committee for 10 years now. We were initially called the North Somerset Bursars and Business Managers (BABM) Network and then two years ago we became an ISBL regional group called Somerset School Business Leaders @SomSchBusLeader. There are three major issues facing our network group – membership levels, committee succession planning and attendance at network meetings. I’m sure other network groups have similar issues, and this is where #SBLTwitter can help. We would like to encourage the #SBLTwitter community to join their local regional network group, in order that they can benefit from meeting their local colleagues, share best practice and network with those SBLs not on twitter – you might even persuade someone to join our growing online community. If you are a regional network group leader, we want to add you to our Twitter map – please complete this form https://cutt.ly/7wxdkJ5 This means #SBLTwitter can easily find out where their nearest group is and hopefully engage with them.
There has been a definite decrease in membership in our network due in part to the transition within the local authority from maintained schools to academies. We heard that some MATs didn’t value the benefits of the network group or had their own internal SBL network; contact details were lost when email domains were changed; staff turnover meant no one knew who the new SBLs were; retirements happened and the replacements haven’t joined the network as they didn’t identify as school business leaders. I’ll be honest, it’s been a struggle to keep connected with those in our locality. Running a network group and having the day job, is tricky! Hence the importance of succession planning in order that networks don’t fold when the committee retire, resign or win the lottery!
Sadly, there have also been SBLs leaving the network as they have left the profession as the struggles of the role had or were beginning to overwhelm them. This reason I find the hardest to deal with. I’ve had SBLs in tears at network meetings telling me about the difficulties in their schools. It feels like we, by that I mean the Education system, has let them down when their only option is to leave rather than with support stay. As a network group we have tried to balance sharing SBL updates with SBL well-being. Our last network meeting in June featured a dietary expert to advise on how to have a fab #SBLLunch but also eat well to keep emotions and energy levels in the right place. Our conference in January featured the fab @NickiiMesser to share and inspire better working practices. Attendees were buzzing about the input they had received and the difference it was going to make to their working life. Like many regional network groups we’ve got our own website (https://www.ssbl.org.uk/) which includes a forum for members to ask questions and keep connected. We’ve also provided membership to @FundEd4schools for all our SSBL members. All this for a membership charge of £35 per annum, plus of course the crucial bit – time out of the office to attend the Network meetings and conference. This is where we need the support of our Headteachers to help SBLs get out the office for the half day or day and get learning, get inspired, get refreshed, get connected. Your local network group will have a different offer and different charge, but the intent will be the same help SBLs connect, provide CPD, support and encouragement.
So what can you do to help?
- If you’re a network lead please complete this form https://cutt.ly/7wxdkJ5 so we can add you to our Twitter Map and start using the #SBLConnect and @SBLConnect
- Don’t like the direction your regional network group is going? – get on the committee and start influencing!
- Not in a regional group? Take a look at our Twitter Map https://cutt.ly/HwcG7Bb to find your closest one and sign up and attend.
- If your Headteacher is on twitter could you ask them to retweet the details of your local regional network meeting and inspire other Headteachers to release their SBL to a network meeting?
- If you know an SBL in a local school isn’t in your local SBL network group, could you invite them to join you for the next meeting?
- If you are in an SBL network group, could you encourage more SBLs to get on Twitter? share with them the #SBLTwitterChallenge (available https://wafflesofansbl.com/support-for-sbl-regional-groups/).
- Interested in having an SBL Mentor or being a Mentor to someone contact @SbmMentors
Basically #SBLTwitter is just one massive part of the support network SBLs have, enjoy the face to face contact and be an active member of your local network group too!
Academy Business Leader – St Annes Church Academy & Chair of SSBL