24 Apr 2018 | by David Allen

There is no escaping that collaboration has been a buzz word in the education sector for some considerable time.

Since 2007 working with others, and not in isolation has been a key shift in working behaviours across the education sector. School Business Leaders (SBL's) have played a vital role in supporting this agenda. Whilst there have been, and will continue to be many collaborative activities covering the delivery of education, SBL's are at the forefront of collaboration when it comes to the support of education delivery.

Many business leaders have worked in other sectors and industry so often have first-hand experience of the benefits to be gained through collective working and sharing resources and practice. These are values that go to the heart of ISBL and are critical behaviours that support the ongoing development of our sector. The ability to share is essential to the on-going development of SBL's professional development and capability. 


View ISBL's specialist training here


Today the most common collaborative structure comes in the form of Multi Academy Trust (MATS). Latest data shows that 77% of academies are in a MAT with 2 or more schools, with 43% of trusts having between 3 and 10 schools.

Maintained schools are not exempt from this debate, many schools work in partnerships, federations or have entered into some form of trust arrangement. So collaboration exists across all levels and all school models.

ISBL plays a key role in providing the scaffolding for the sharing of professional practice, but this will only work if SBL's continue to recognise the value in to be gained through learning from others. This is incredibly important as the sector develops.


Both Academy and maintained school sectors will not move backwards on this collaborative trajectory. Working in collaborative structures allows SBL's to be creative in supporting service delivery – the challenge comes in learning from one another and sharing practice. If you are part of a local networking group then you have access to a forum to share practice and consider your collaborative work. You should ensure that some of your group time is allocated to challenging how you can improve you collaboration work to the benefit of everyone. In recent times much has been spoken about system leadership – as SBL's we have a vital role to play in the system leadership agenda.



The ability of SBL's to identify delivery methods, suppliers or work with external partners is vital in developing system leadership. Another example if we needed one why SBL's are vital in school and more importantly are a key part of the School Leadership structure.

As professionals it is important to remember that there is always the opportunity to learn, sometimes there is risk we can become too focused on our primary or secondary phase to the detriment of professional development and the credibility of our sector.


Contact ISBL at  or call Louise Bukinshaw on 024 76 231221 for more advice on professional development opportunities. 


By David Allen