COO Blog

Every cloud has a silver lining!

Child climbing in a tree

My wife often describes my performance as a husband as “just lurching from one crisis to the next” which also feels like an apt description for the last couple of years in education; covid, climate, energy, inflation, recruitment, amongst others, are all crises that have been and will remain challenging. My response to both situations is covered by two comments, every cloud has a silver lining and your husband or COO could be much worse.

So where are our silver linings - 

Covid - 

  • Schools are more focused on their vulnerable students than ever before, more aware of the digital divide, more aware of mental health, more aware of learning gaps and have a better understanding of how to successfully tackle these issues

  • Schools and school staff have become more digitally mature in their understanding of and use of technology

  • School leaders are more aware of staff mental health and how to support staff

  • We have all learned to live and work safely with the virus among us

  • We value those in caring professions a little bit more than we ever did before

  • Our new Trust SEND and Safeguarding leads are focused on supporting our vulnerable students across the Trust

Climate - 

  • Most people have now understood the message and the urgency required

  • Most people want to change to a carbon neutral lifestyle

  • Research is being done at pace and enables rapid change. A couple of years ago we would never have thought it possible to have 100% renewable electricity

  • Young people are driven to enable change and push the adults in their life to act. In my generation it was young people who pressed the adults in their life to stop smoking and as my generation grew up the number of smokers reduced significantly. Is that where we are with climate?

  • There are lots of organisations to help us plan and act effectively

  • We’ve committed to net zero in 2030 and are on track to get there

Energy - 

  • The current cost crisis will move us quicker to carbon free fuels

  • We will use our cars less and exercise more

  • Government will focus on the profits the energy companies make and tax them more (probably!)

  • When the crisis reduces then the changes made will make an even bigger difference

  • We’ve capped our energy costs at the rates from 2 year ago and have 2 years left on these rates which gives time to reduce the number of kilowatts the Trust burns

Inflation -

  • A common driver to reduce waste across all areas of spending

  • Creates a common focus on understanding the detail of what we all do and how small changes can have a large impact - copiers, lights, projectors, ICT kit, heating, catering waste and much more can all be used to build savings worth having

  • Once inflation comes back under control then these savings will remain valuable

  • The Trust’s business managers are an awesome resource of innovation and determination to manage costs

Recruitment -

  • School leaders are seeking to understand what good work looks like; how does an employer create a place where people want to work?

  • The living wage is rising rapidly each year and helping the lowest paid employees become better recognised for the valuable work they do

  • Employers now want a wellbeing strategy that helps staff become fulfilled

  • Employment packages that are about more than pay and include work life balance are appearing; a 4 day week trial has begun

  • Our new HR Manager is focused on how we become the best employer we can be

The government is committed to the Trust structure because it enables effective management of schools to focus on school improvement whether there is a crisis or not. I think they have a point!

I’m now going to lurch off to my next crisis; was all that washing the same shade of pink when I put it in this morning?

Stay up to date with all the latest information from the trust