- "Like-for-like" is what schools should be offered for decant accommodation, but it's a rather woolly concept and you'll never really get exactly what you've left. As every penny spent on decant is a penny lost to the final building, you need to define exactly what like-for-like is and how flexible you're prepared to be.
- If you feel too much is being crammed into too short a space of time, you're probably right. Ideally the temporary accommodation should be completed, then in goes the ICT network, then in goes the furniture and finally in goes the ICT. We did everything at once. It was bordering on chaos at times.
- Be nice to each other, even when you're very near the end of your tether.
- Have an individual conversation with each Team Leader involved in the room setting out exactly what they will be getting in temporary accommodation and the process for the move.
- You really need to work through the plans of the building you're moving out of and check every single space to make sure someone "owns" it, and that it's got somewhere to go. We found departments who weren't really decanting had bits and pieces stored that needed moving/throwing away. Don't forget the cleaners cupboards. Oddly we didn't really have ownership of the staffroom, despite it belonging to everyone. This is now an area causing the most discontent amongst a usually very flexible staff and I have to confess I should have got the staff association on board earlier.
- Negotiate timely and appropriate support from the LEP and Local Authority.
- Ask for temporary accommodation with suited keys.
- Work out the revised cleaning plans well in advance.
- Get professionals to do room plans. I was very proud of my scale room plans, complete with cut-out scale desks, cupboards and filing cabinets. The professionals didn't look so impressed. Our Reprographics Technician, an ex-draughtswoman, did a tremendous job on her room plan and labelling and walked in to a room set out exactly as she had wanted it. Make staff do plans even if they don't think they want/need to.
- Pay lots of attention to fixed shelving, benching and location of ICT ports and electrical sockets. Make sure you give this information to builders in a timely fashion and in an accessible format. Keep a close eye as these things go in.
- No matter how hard you try, things will go wrong. Prepare staff for this and build in financial and time contingencies. You will probably need a few general grafters around for a good few days after the move.
- Buy in lots of fans, extension cables and tape measures. Very few people labelled their bins so we are short of those as well.
- Insist that staff label every single item to move, store or sling. Even if you tell them unlabelled things will be thrown away, you really need to make sure it's genuine rubbish rather than an oversight.
- Don't sling furniture until you're sure you don't need it.
- Don't store furniture that needs slinging.
- Book a 3-week holiday over the decant period (OK, maybe this one's in the category of things I wish I'd done).
In fact, looking at the above it all could have been far, far worse, but I will definitely do a few things differently next time around.
On a separate note I've written an article on BSF for "School Financial Management", which has just been published. My family all reckon it'll turn up as one of the obscure publications on "Have I got News for You", but what do they know - I'm really proud! Welcome to anyone who's visiting this site via that article. I'd love to get some sort of informal School Business Manager networking site going (not just BSF related), and one of our Governors who sets this sort of thing up for a living has offered support with this. Contact me if it's something you'd be interested in.