Different crisis; same old issues!
I often feel very lucky in the work that I do. I work in schools where the purpose of educating young people is extremely clear as well as being an important function of any society. I work with people who are excellent at what they do and they do their work because they want the best for young people.
When a crisis arises that affects education my experience is that the fantastic teams in all the schools in the Trust apply their knowledge, time and effort to our systems, processes and plans to ensure the best outcomes possible for our young people. The last few years have proven they are capable of managing anything that comes their way. Many people working in education across the UK would describe the same things.
The current cost of living, energy, funding and climate crises will be no different; team Three Rivers will achieve the best possible outcomes for our young people.
However it is already clear that we will need to manage our performance whilst restricted by the same old issues when the country faces a crisis.
Business continuity plan (BCP)
Anyone who works in a school leadership role will know the DfE has a requirement for schools to have a business continuity plan for all eventualities. This plan can be implemented in the event of a crisis and helps an organisation run more smoothly.
In the last few years it has felt like there is no adequate BCP in a number of areas at a national level. During Covid for example -
The national pandemic risk register focused on influenza without due consideration of other infections
Running short of PPE during a pandemic and having no national supply chain
Unclear lockdown systems that led to high care home infection rates
Now that the energy crisis is upon us it feels like the lack of an effective BCP is causing an issue -
There appears to be an inadequate alternative and cost effective supply of energy
The UK appears reliant on energy from outside its borders and subject to whatever that costs
There appears to be no plan to take immediate measures to reduce energy use in some areas to prioritise use in key functions; reducing demand and therefore reducing cost
As every leader knows, a key function of leadership is to communicate a clear and effective plan as soon as possible to enable the right people to take the right actions to mitigate and manage the impacts of a crisis.
During Covid national communication was confused, delayed and ineffective; local and national governments were not coordinated. Individuals and businesses were left to manage as best they could and develop solutions independent of government until the confusion was resolved.
In the last few months there has been a lack of communication about cost of living support measures. This is starting to clear a little although schools remain in the dark about any potential funding support for their increasing costs.
Speed of response
Often Covid measures were slow to be implemented linked to the lack of an effective BCP and poor communication. Many countries locked down their borders well before the UK for example.
The cost of living crisis has been clearly coming over the horizon for months with many families and businesses looking at very bleak outcomes. It is only recently that the government has started to identify some protection that may be available.
We will plan to manage in difficult circumstances and wait for the government to react; when the latest crisis subsides maybe national risk management and continuity planning can be reviewed? In the meantime the fantastic team at The Three Rivers Learning Trust will apply themselves to ensuring the continuity of education for the public benefit across our schools.