Our History

The Institute can trace its origins to local group meetings in the early 1990s. Bursars began to emerge in the state sector as a result of the new autonomy enjoyed by schools awarded grant-maintained status. Early informal meetings of like-minded school business professionals led to the National Bursars Association being formally incorporated in response to a growing demand for a more formal representative body.

In 2008, and in response to the changing education policy environment, the association commissioned a rebrand exercise and made a conscious move away from the term ‘bursar’ to reflect the broader responsibilities and complexity of school business management. The National Association of School Business Management (NASBM) was born.

The association’s principal role was to support practitioners’ professional development and the sector’s capacity to meet the challenges associated to a rapidly evolving and ever-changing system. It became increasingly clear that the association’s role was more closely aligned to a professional body than a representative body, so following extensive sector consultation, trustees resolved to transition from an association to a professional institute. In 2017, we became the Institute of School Business Leadership, the first dedicated school business professional body.


ISBL's role in our education system

ISBL’s principal function is to provide confidence to all education stakeholders in this vital cadre of educational professionals. The school business professional workforce provides schools with access to unique, highly skilled and experienced practitioners. Here at ISBL, we set the benchmark for effective practice through sector-endorsed professional standards and provide development opportunities for our professional community and their institutions through a portfolio of quality-assured qualifications, training, resources and events.


Helping secure a brighter future for our children: A blueprint for school business leadership practice

This is a statement of ISBL’s intent, with effective school resource management at its core. It sets out our vision and commitment to supporting the ongoing development of a critical, fit-for-purpose workforce, along with the necessary steps towards equipping a cadre of professionals ready and able to support other school and trust leaders in responding to the complex challenges of our evolving education system.

Download a copy of the ISBL blueprint here.


Our role in influencing policy

ISBL aims to remain politically neutral. Using a non-partisan approach, we provide the Government with feedback from our community and a technical steer in areas of policy relevant to our expertise.


ISBL supports all school business professionals (SBPs)

We recognise the professional diversity of the SBP community. In a mixed-economy education system, it is inevitable that there will be variations in the scale of operations, different structures and consequently variable levels of responsibility and accountability for those within those structures. In this environment, it is therefore unsurprising that there are many versions of the school business professional role.

As an institute, it is our responsibility to ensure that we support practitioners at every stage of the professional journey, whether an aspiring SBP, an established practitioner in a local setting or operating at an executive level. Our development programmes and resources are designed to meet the needs of practitioners across a broad career continuum.


Our vision, values and focus

To see school business professionals having the greatest possible positive impact on our education system

Our values

  • Integrity
  • Inclusivity
  • Impartiality
  • Insight

Our core focus areas

  • Professional competency & sector assurance
  • Professional recognition
  • Professional development
  • Professional voice [conduit between policy & practice]


Our commitment to equality and diversity

We encourage aspiration, ambition and achievement, and we lead by example on equality and diversity.

Equality is surely about being valued for who and what we are. This helps us all thrive without being constrained or hampered by unfair obstacles or placing limitations on progression and growth due to stereotyping.

We also strive towards an SBP workforce that better reflects the community that it serves. Our 2019 workforce survey and 2020 diversity research continues to help inform our thinking, and we will build on this evidence base.

We believe in three anchor points that ensure the ISBL proposition is as inclusive as possible.

  • Access: Being able to fully engage and participate in all ISBL activity with equal ease and dignity
  • Treatment: To feel a sense of belonging – a place where we fit in, are welcome and can express ourselves in our own way
  • Service: Feeling that training programmes, events and resources have been designed with us all in mind

We value diversity – it makes the Institute a more creative place to learn and interact.

We celebrate the fact that our members and staff, our partners and supporters, are from different social and ethnic backgrounds, have different sexual orientations, participate in a variety of faiths and have a range of disabilities.

All the evidence suggests that:

  • diverse teams make better decisions and produce richer experiences
  • listening to different points of view improves how we do things
  • valuing our differences, as well as the things we have in common, strengthens inclusion.

We will continue our work with key stakeholder groups on improving equity and diversity in education.

Through a sector-led statement of action and commitments, sector bodies and national associations including ISBL have come together to demonstrate their commitment to tackling issues related to equality, diversity and inclusion in education. As signatories, we want our key stakeholders – pupils, families, staff, governors, leaders – to know that we are prepared to learn, listen and act on their concerns and that together we can achieve our ambitions for better equality, diversity and inclusion.

Who are the team at ISBL?

For more information about the team that are leading the institute, including the Executive Team, Board of Trustees and the Advisory Panel you can learn more about them here.


Articles of Association

To download and view a of a copy of the articles of association please click here.


Annual Accounts

To view our most recent annual accounts, please click here.