Cheers for the bet Lord Agnew…but you have made the wager with the wrong people!

I was at the Academies Show in Birmingham. As I stood there I heard delegates saying they were hearing the same old presentations and seeing the same old products. It was all a little droll – even if I was saying the same!

Yet, one presentation soon got people talking. As Schools Week reported, the academies minister, Lord Agnew, said to a crowd of school leaders he will bet any headteacher “a bottle of champagne and a letter of commendation” that he can identify more potential savings in their schools. 

To be honest, despite the mocking, I get where he is coming from. I would guess that any management consultant or accountant would be able to spend time in a school investigating contracts, looking at procurement processes and come up with savings. 

In fact, I would go as far as to say that if an academy trust can’t find savings whilst maintaining quality Teaching & Learning, then the Trust needs to really look at itself in the mirror. If I had a pound for every time that I heard a school or trust justify expenditure on the grounds that “We have always done it that way!”, well….I wouldn’t ever need to look at my own bank statements again!

That is the very type of thinking that Lord Agnew is right to challenge, even if I may respectfully question how he has gone about it. He has actually made a bet that he is nearly always going to be able to collect on. He knows his wine cellar will start to fill and he knows he has made his point. Congratulations, Sir!

But, that is where our thinking starts to differ. 

Should we expect educationalists to be outstanding at delivering educational and financial results? No! Just because someone can ensure that their students have fantastic maths results does not make them procurement gurus.

The leaders who make the biggest impact will do everything for their pupils and students. It is an uncomfortable reality to think about budgets in the same way as outcomes.

So, this is an issue in making sure that every trust has the right mind set as well as the right skill set.  The members, trustees and governors should be working strategically to provide the educationalists what they need to provide quality Teaching and Learning. 

Lord Agnew’s bet, in short, has been made with the wrong people.

Lets get the right people in governance to drive through strategic cost savings. We should not be relying on 150 bought-in so-called experts or Lord Agnew to show us the way. 

I’ve always said that it’s people who make an academy succeed and it’s people who make an academy fail. Same with an LA, same with a maintained school, same with a private company.  The key part of that sentence is the word PEOPLE – one person does not make a trust! It is collective approach. It’s up to us all to take collective responsibility rather than simply asking for more money.

So make your bet, Lord Agnew. But make the wager with the right people in order to change mindsets and realities!

To find out more about how we can help your trust think differently and change mindsets, then get in touch.