We asked Angela Odunsi to answer five questions about being a School Business Leader. Here’s what she said:
1) How did you become a School Business Manager/Leader?
I started off as an aspiring School Business Manager enrolled on the CSBM level 4 course with the National College. Whilst on the course, I volunteered at my daughter’s primary school. Once I completed the course, I applied for my first school job at a nearby school as a School Office manager of which my role involved everything but Finance. After a year there, I applied for the School Business Leader role at the same school in which I volunteered. I have now been working there for 5 years.
2) What would be your one tip for aspiring/new School Business Managers/Leaders?
My advice for any aspiring School Business Manager would be to try to gain experience by either working or volunteering in a school. The experience gained can be extremely beneficial as it helps with the understanding of the school environment, which in turn allows you to get a valuable insight of what the role itself entails.
As a new School Business Manager, the role can be overwhelming when you first start. My advice would be to always have a to do list, prioritise what is on the list. Make sure to be assertive when dealing with interruptions as this is an inevitable aspect of the role. Lastly networking with the local SBM’s in the area and nationwide can too be beneficial. Although at times the work may seem overwhelming, as there is a lot of areas to cover; be assured by the approachable members of the group as they are there not only to answer your questions but to support you with any needs you may have; even if it is for a chat about life away from work.
3) If you had an independent mentor and you asked for their support in one area of your role, what would you ask?
For me personally, it was mainly questions surrounding the Finance aspect on as this was something that I had the most information gaps. The questions I often asked where surrounding budget setting, as well as reporting to governors.
4) Thinking about when you first started as a school leader, what one piece of advice would you give yourself knowing what you know now?
Never feel you are alone. Once you start to network, you realise that most of us are in the same boat trying to spin several plates at the same time; this is the nature of the role. I must admit that I do enjoy it 😊. No day is ever the same.
5) Many school Business managers/Leaders report feeling isolated, how do you think this could be addressed?
Firstly, I would say to establish a good relationship with the Headteacher. They are the one person in the school that is able to relate and understand what the role entails. In times when I needed support or felt a bit stressed and overwhelmed after a long day; I would usually go to my HT office for some reassurance. Secondly, nothing beats the various SBL groups out there both locally and nationally. By joining these various groups, I have never felt isolated and always know I can get advice and help from there as well as being able to support those who I can offer my expertise..
Angela is a School Business Leader at St Antony’s Catholic Primary School in Woodford Green, Essex. You can connect with Angela on Linked In