Running school business operations

As a result of academisation and even in maintained schools, where the role of the LA is changing with less support available for schools, the role of the school business manager is becoming even more critical in schools. They are taking on a broader spread of responsibilities, whilst ensuring the best use of resources and value for money, and increasingly looking at income generation. Do SBMs have the skills to step up to their role and do heads and governors know what to expect of their SBM?
Increased local autonomy, more complex operations and more rigorous direct accountability mean that all schools require highly skilled specialists to support head teachers and governors. Schools are complex business operations and the triangulation of effective resource management and administration, robust governance and educational leadership are key ingredients in successful schools. A skilled and well-qualified school business management professional on the school leadership team can focus on ensuring the effective use of available financial and human resources, aligned to the school’s pedagogical aims and development plan, whilst other members of the team focus on improving teaching and learning. Increasingly school business managers are also responding to funding pressures by exploring new and innovative approaches to income generation.

Management standards

Here at NASBM, we still believe however that the role and potential contribution of a school business manager is still not fully understood by head teachers and governing bodies. During 2015, we will therefore be developing a set of professional standards for school business management professionals, comparable to those that already exist for other staff in schools. Our intention is that the standards will set out the core and specialist areas of competence required to be successful in the school business management professional role and assist those currently working in, or aspiring to work in, the school business management profession to perform their role as expertly as possible. The standards also set out the content of both initial training and continuing professional development for those entering or developing their career in the profession and provide a framework for the development of qualifications and other professional recognition for school business management professionals.

We would also hope that the standards would be used to inform the performance management of and recruitment school business management professionals. NASBM will develop these standards in consultation not only with representatives from the school business management profession, but also with head teachers and governors. The work on drafting the standards will begin in 2015, informed by our recent research into school business management practice in the USA and by their existing professional standards. We are very interested in hearing from individuals and groups who would like to support the development of the standards.
Working in a rapidly changing school system, it is essential that school business management professionals undertake continuing professional development and take active steps to maintain their competence. In our view, all schools should be investing in professional development for all their staff, not just teaching staff, and should be committed to developing the potential of all of their workforce. The new professional standards will also play a role here in informing decisions about appropriate continuing professional development activities for school business management practitioners. 

Fellowship scheme
As part of our drive to raise standards, we have also just launched our new Fellowship scheme to recognise the most effective and qualified leaders in the school business management profession. Our objectives for the scheme are to: formally recognise and raise awareness of excellent practice and expertise within the profession; encourage the profession to aspire to excellence and higher standards of practice; and improve the practice of school business management by encouraging ongoing participation in professional development.
Being recognised as a NASBM Fellow will demonstrate that a school business management professional is a leader within the profession, has achieved a high level of professional expertise and is committed to developing their knowledge and skills to meet the ever-changing demands of the education sector. They also will commit to upholding the very highest ethical standards. NASBM will maintain a public register of our Fellows on our website and NASBM Fellows can use the designation FNASBM after their name and on printed material. They will become part of a diverse network of like-minded people who want to drive forward the standards of and build the reputation of the school business management profession and will be working alongside NASBM and our stakeholders to ensure that school leaders and governors fully recognise the contribution school business management professionals make to school improvement and development.
We believe that the creation of a robust reference point in the form of national professional standards, supported by professional recognition of our most expert and qualified practitioners through our Fellowship scheme, are essential for the credibility and ongoing development of the profession. We look forward to working with both the profession and stakeholders as we take forward this exciting programme of work.

Further information