A day in the life of an average SBM - written by Andy Heron

In no way will my average day be like many other SBM’s, as we all have very different days/roles even though we might be sharing similar titles.

I live some distance from my place of work and the commute of just under an hour gives me that perfect time to think about the day ahead. It’s a very cyclical job, the majority of the time, with the week, month, year being mapped out with what needs doing when and where and in what order.

The drive to work allows me to just reaffirm what I hope and envisage I can get done that day and it is these targets that usually provide the opportunity for those win/win situations that are all important in trying to make sure you have a had a productive day.

So on arriving at school some 40 miles later, the day can seem to be mapped out but, like the best laid battle plans, it is only as good up to the point of its first contact (or in school terms emergency/dilemma/situation) and this can be anytime from arrival plus 1 minute or at any point until I start the commute home at the end of the day.

Take last Friday for example, I arrived at school about 8:10am, not a bad day, weather wise for a change.  I could see all the boilers were working by the plumes of exhaust emissions from the main boiler plant, swimming pool and sports hall as I drove into school.  Walking into school the fire alarm panel showed green, so all was OK and I got into the office to bring it to life, switching on the computers, CCTV monitors, printer and opening up the cabinets and my all-important DAB radio, which brings sanctity and companionship to a sometimes chaotic and often solitary place - BBC6Music being my current squeeze.

I could see that I had a message on the telephone, as the red light indicator was lit up and as my telephone number was also the support staff absence line this would, more often than not, be my first “contact” of the day.

Sure enough it was, evening caretaker wouldn’t be in to lock up tonight.  Quick ring around and situation was sorted – I would be locking up tonight as other staff were unable to do it.  The other staff absence was noted and their line manager informed. A quiet day, given that the season of colds was in full-on mode.

I logged into SIMS, parentpay and my email accounts to see if by a miracle, I had had no overnight messages!  Alas, this was not to be that first ever day of the miracle and I quickly scanned all of these for any potential issues that were going to need some immediate action.  Only a few needed dealing with straight away to avoid the situation of if I did not answer quickly enough an email, I would proceed to get several on the same issue in one day, due to the fact that “their specific situation” was not sorted in world-record time.  Having done this, the rest could wait.

I re-boil the kettle to make the tea and started to check the GPS location of the incoming school coaches to make sure they were on time for the school day to start on time.

All was fine, and I quickly briefed the Headteacher that all was fine from my end and if he had any issues of his own that I needed to know about.  All was good on both sides – was this going to be a #HappyFriyay – it seemed liked it might.

My drive to work thinking had me scheduled to complete a few tasks and to be able to tick off essential jobs for that day.  I tend to have only 2 or 3 of these because of all the other daily distractions that will almost certainly arise.  That win/win scenario.

And so, the school bell rings for AM registration and we are off.  What lies ahead on this relatively sunny start to the day?

Knock at the door and some students wanting a bus pass sorting - tick
A student needing a parentpay activation letter - tick
A Year 7 student wanting a duplicate key for their locker, as they had left theirs at home - tick
Key for the piano - tick
Laptop presentation bag wanted by a teacher for the morning assembly  - tick 

I re-boil the kettle to make some tea.

First scheduled task was to finish off the monthly payroll and get that over to the provider.  I had done most of it the day before so this was just ensuring that all payments and amendments to contracts were actioned.  December payroll is quite sensitive to ensure that all is right given the time of year. I manage to get this all sorted and emailed off relatively unscathed with just a few distractions of telephone calls.  Job done – next.

A call from a Head of Year, wanting to see CCTV footage interrupts the tea making process, so a review of the alleged timings creates some potential footage to review.  I leave it on pause for them to come and have a look.

Another call - from a salesman wanting to discuss the quote he had sent over.  I politely asked him to leave it with me and I would come back to him – that is fine he says, “I’ll call you this afternoon” he says confidently but I reply, much to his dismay “No, as I have just said – leave it with me, I WILL CALL YOU”.

I re-boil the kettle just in time to make a cup of tea for me and the finance officer – 1st one of the day.  The time is 9:45am.

For the next half hour, I deal with teacher pension query, occupational health query, overseas payment for specialist SEND software from the USA and answer a few emails that have come in needing a quick response – no world records to break here fortunately.

Morning break arrives and a number of student enquiries into the office regarding different things – ranging from timetable issues, EMA, bus passes, bus payments, trip payments, parentpay queries and PE kit bags left on the locked school buses.

I now look to complete the bank reconciliation, month end and get all the paperwork off to the relevant departments who need the returns.  Depending on interruptions, this could take a while or if quiet can be done relatively quickly.  Thankfully, on this occasion the notice on the door saying, “interrupt at your own peril” seems to work and satisfyingly all the processes are complete and the VAT submission is done and emailed off. 

I can get on with paying some invoices now but not before the walkie-talkie bursts into life at the same time as a couple of students tell me the toilets are blocked in C Corridor and attention is needed urgently.   Having radioed for the caretaker, I realise that “I am the caretaker”.  Hot footing it to the toilets, all is not as bad as it appeared and they just need a quick sort out to remove the offending blockage, the housekeeper is also on scene to assist which both makes for a more efficient sorting of the problem and able to ensure that the toilets are left in a clean and usable state for the rest of the day.

Whilst walking to and from the toilets I also get a chance to speak with a few staff who have pension queries and need to ask me a question on some things.  

Back in the office, I complete the payment run of all outstanding invoices and get the paperwork sorted for signature etc. I am always content when this process gets done, kind of a self-indulgent moment for me but maybe I am just weird!!

The rest of the afternoon is made up of some office chores of filing end of month paperwork, archiving personnel files and shredding of paperwork. I finish the afternoon by updating the Governors report for January 2019 and the first aid and near miss registers.

The bell goes for the end of the day and my caretaking role begins.  I speak with all the cleaners to advise them of situation and watch the coaches leave to school grounds as they take home students after another day in school.  The coach bay gates are secured.  I meet the after-school drama club co-ordinator and advise her of the fire alarm test at 4.00pm, which they all love and dance to!

For the next 3 hours I try to hit my 10,000 steps target which is easily done walking around the school and its grounds, making sure doors and windows are locked and secured after the nightly cleaning regime has been completed.  The cleaners vacate the site at 6.30pm.

A final walk around school to extinguish lights, turn off any electrical appliances and check windows and doors one last time has me leaving site just after 7pm.

A long day indeed but productive. Just the drive home to contemplate and reflect on the week that has gone and the final week before the end of term to go.

 

Written by Andy Heron - @WrexhamSBP

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