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Leadership webinar: effective school business continuity plans (video and webchat)

Discussion in 'Senior Leadership Team' started by AndrewFIS, Apr 29, 2016.

  1. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    When disasters in the form of fires or floods affect your school, how effective is your school business continuity plan to handle the situation?

    As part of the TES Leadership webinar series, I’ll be putting your questions to Richard Moxon, head of Marsh's education practice.

    We will examine what should be contained in your plan and talk about real-life case studies.

    Post your questions below now - and, if you can, join in our live webchat on May 9 at 4.30pm.

    Before that, you can watch a video we’ve made in which Richard and I discuss the issues, with key advice for school leaders.


    To access all the videos in the TES Leadership series, plus an exclusive database of grants available to schools, become a TES Leadership subscriber.
  2. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member


    Don't forget to submit your questions here before the webchat this afternoon.

    Thank you.
  3. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member

    Good afternoon and welcome to the thirteenth webchat in our series of discussions aimed at school leaders.

    In a few moments I will hand you over to Andrew, who is editor of FIS, who will be hosting this week's hour-long webchat.

    Andrew and this week's guest, leadership expert panel member Richard Moxon who will be available for the next hour to answer your questions on how leaders can develop a school business continuity plan.

    If you have any questions please submit them below. Don't worry if we run out of time, any unanswered questions will be responded to and posted on this thread later this week.

    I'll now hand you over to Andrew.

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  4. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    Hello and welcome to this webchat on business continuity in schools. Joining me is Richard Moxon, head of Marsh's education practice. For those of you following this thread, please feel free to post your query. Remember to refresh your page to see the updates as they appear.

    Thanks for joining us, Richard.

    Why should a school have a business continuity plan (BCP)?
  5. Richard_Moxon

    Richard_Moxon New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    Good afternoon. Good afternoon everyone.

    Business continuity is the discipline that has organisational resilience as its objective.

    Resilient schools and colleges are forward-thinking and are able to adapt to changing circumstances which may have a damaging effect on the school’s ability to survive.

    Most schools will say that they have a BCP, but on further investigation it is often established that at best they only have an incident management plan. There is no plan in place to recover service delivery following a major event. The “how” and “where” you are going to teach?

    In short:

    • All schools, irrespective of size, should engage in a comprehensive process of prevention, preparedness, and loss recovery.
    • Failure to do so could lead to unforeseen financial loss, loss of reputation and ultimately a cessation of the school itself.
    • Studies show that two out of five businesses that experience a major disaster cease to exist within five years of the event, many within twelve months.
    • A serious disruption to your ability to function as usual will cost you goodwill and money.

    Having a BCP is invaluable because it tells everyone who needs to know:

    • What resources are needed.
    • Where they can source from – often at what approximate cost.
    • Who is going to deal with what.
    • What are the deadlines that must be met to help recovery the business.
  6. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    How does a school decide what to include in its business continuity plan?
  7. Richard_Moxon

    Richard_Moxon New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    To some extent, each school’s plan is going to be different.

    However, to identify the elements of a BCP, a business impact analysis (BIA) is required. This identifies, quantifies, and qualifies the impact of an adverse event on a school. There are three levels of BIA:

    • Strategic: this allows the school to identify and prioritise the most urgent services and determine the school’s recovery timescales.
    • Tactical: this enables the school to determine the processes required to support service delivery.
    • Operational: this helps identify and prioritise the activities required at an operational level to maintain service delivery capability.

    The purpose of a BIA is to:
    • Identify the maximum tolerable period of disruption (MTPD). How patient will parents be for you to provide an adequate and appropriate alternative for their child’s education?
    • Determine the priorities for recovery.
    • Identify the dependencies and resources needed to achieve pre-determined service levels.
    A school’s MTPD may be reached when:
    • Parents withdraw pupils from the school. In this case because the school has been materially damaged by the fire.
    • The reputation of the school may be so badly damaged that interested parties no longer want to be associated with it. It might be assumed that the school business continuity plan must have been inadequate.
    • The school ultimately becomes financially insolvent.
  8. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    What are the tactics every school should have in its business continuity plan?
  9. Richard_Moxon

    Richard_Moxon New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    The design of an effective plan requires a selection of tactics that can be deployed in a variety of ways, to deal with a specific type and time of loss. Questions to ask may include:

    Use of Staff
    • Teaching: how can you continue educatiing the pupils?
    • Administration: how can the school continue to function?
    • Estates management: where is the damage and how can it easily be refurbished/rebuilt?
    • Medical: were resources in place to help anyone affected by the fire either physically or psychologically?

    • Teaching: can you organise alternative premises or hire temporary classrooms?
    • Residential: if boarding is provided, can you re-house pupils using spare capacity? Do you need to rent temporary accomodation?
    • Support functions e.g. administration, medical, marketing etc. Can they be housed offsite?


    • IT: has school data been backed up off the premises?
    • Data: is this accessible and can it be re-established?
    • Equipment: is there a provision for teaching materials to be replaced/borrowed?
    • Materials: has this been budgeted for?

    Suppliers (i.e. products and/or services provided by third parties)
    • Is there a contingency in your contracts for your suppliers to respond quickly to emergency orders?

    Customers/ 3rd Party Hire
    • Commercial impact: for example summer schools – can they still continue on your premises? Will they need to be held elsewhere or cancelled?
    • Clubs and societies: similarly, can they continue to function in the short-term?
  10. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    Who should devise its contents?
  11. Richard_Moxon

    Richard_Moxon New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    It has to be a team effort. A BCP shouldn’t be left to a single individual to draft; it should draw in subject matter experts and the senior leadership team – including school governors.

    Governors and the SLT must set the strategy and, crucially, provide the necessary financial support and resources for the implementation, ongoing management, and validation of the school’s plan. To devise and maintain an effective BCP, it takes an investment of time and money.

    When developing a plan, it is vitally important to assign roles and responsibilities to specific, competent staff whose performance can be effectively monitored. Staff appointed to the plan must have appropriate training for their role.

    The number of staff required to support and manage the plan will depend on the size of the school, the range of services delivered, and the geographical location of school.
  12. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    How can a school know if its plan is fit for purpose?
  13. Richard_Moxon

    Richard_Moxon New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    Test, test, and test again.

    Validation of a BCP confirms it meets the objectives set out by the school’s governors and SLT and that the school’s plan is fit for purpose.

    A planned exercise programme is an essential element of the validation process to ensure that the school’s response to an incident is appropriate. The information contained in all the documentation needs to be verified, the plan needs to be rehearsed, and all relevant staff should participate in some form of exercise.

    Table-top exercises can be a useful tool.

    A table-top exercise is where a discussion is based on a particular loss scenario with an agreed timeline that may be in real-time or be compressed to allow different phases of the scenario to be exercised.

    To be effective prior to starting an exercise, all staff should be fully briefed and be aware of what is required of them. This will include understanding their roles and responsibilities during the exercise.

    To make the exercise as realistic as possible “situational updates” can be introduced by the facilitator which may require participants to reconsider the options available to them during the exercise.

    It is important that at the end of any exercise a debrief should be held to establish whether objectives have been met and allow participants to communicate their experiences so that lessons can be identified and incorporated into the revised plan.
  14. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    Is it ever possible for the plan to cover every eventuality? And, if not, how can a school second guess future threats?
  15. Richard_Moxon

    Richard_Moxon New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    Sadly not, but a rigorous BCP with a range of tactics and resources to draw on will provide framework in which to cope with a developing scenario.

    Loss scenarios may include, but not be limited to:
    • Loss of assets i.e. buildings and business equipment by fire/explosion/flood etc.
    • Inability to access own premises due to nearby criminal/terrorist attack.
    • Cyber-attack – i.e. on line theft of electronic data.
    • Pandemic.
    • Unforeseen loss of funding.
    • Accident to staff resulting in death or serious injury.
    • Abuse.

    That said it is important to be aware of emerging risks and to have a good, ongoing dialogue with your trusted risk adviser.

    There is also a LinkedIn network for anyone involved in education risk called the Marsh UK Education Forum. This is a discussion forum where people can ask questions or seek advice.
  16. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    How does the continuity plan fit with the crisis communications plan? Are they partly the same thing?
  17. Richard_Moxon

    Richard_Moxon New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    A BCP plan should always contain a crisis communications plan.

    Communication and dialogue is going to vital in engaging all the stakeholders impacted by a lack of business continuity - in the short, medium, and long-terms.

    A lack of communications planning can often make a sensitive situation worse.In today's media environment of 24/7 coverage by TV news channels, negative reporting of any form about your school will go viral instantly, reaching tens of thousands if not millions of people in the UK and possibly around the world.

    So consider assembling a crisis communications team:
    • Appoint the following: a head; a spokesperson for internal communications; and a different spokesperson for external communications. Appoint deputies for these positions – it might be that one of the appointees is the member of staff at the centre of the very scandal you need to communicate about.
    • Devise a media protocol for the external communications spokesperson. Include who needs to agree statements before they are issued.
    • Put your local regional media on a database, including telephone, fax, and email.
    • Rehearse how you would deal with communications.
    • Include crisis communications in staff training sessions, not forgetting induction training for new staff.
    Marsh has produced an adviser guide to crisis communication that may be of some use – click here.
  18. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    If a continuity plan is inadequate, what are the chief areas of threat to a school's future?
  19. Richard_Moxon

    Richard_Moxon New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    It is likely to impact in a combination of the below:
    • A school’s reputation.
    • Staff/pupil welfare.
    • Service delivery capability.
    • A school’s short, medium, and long-term financial position.
  20. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    Finally, if a school doesn’t have a BPC, where should they start?

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