21 Mar 2018 | by Stephen Morales


Let me be clear about what I mean when I talk about the three emerging flavours of School Business Leadership: Generalist, Specialist and Executive.


I remain absolutely convinced that strong SBL generalists are the cornerstone of our profession. The ability to operate with peripheral vision across multiple disciplines is critical to, and underpins, the effective management of schools.


SBL generalists are akin to the general manager of a hotel, leisure facility, retail centre or hospital. These roles often include responsibility for managing significant budgets, complex premises, large teams and across a wide range of work strands.

Indeed, my own early career history includes general manager functions in the leisure industry, local government and commercial banking.

However, we need to accept that as academy trusts begin to grow and evolve they will be increasingly drawn to the financial efficiencies potentially achievable through aggregation, centralisation and the resulting economies of scale. As these structures develop, it is inevitable that more specialist roles will emerge and almost certainly as centralised functions operating across a trust.

As a professional community, we need to prepare for this eventuality and position ourselves such that school and trust leaders do not look beyond SBLs and attempt to bring expertise in from outside the sector.

We do not need to panic, and this emerging landscape will take time to evolve, so we have plenty of time to prepare. I also believe that the generalist role will, in most collaborative structures, still prevail. However, we must not be complacent; we can secure our respective futures by demonstrating our authority and competency in the areas of finance, HR, procurement and estates management by keeping abreast of sector developments, sharing best practice and committing to continued professional development.

See my article in the spring edition of The Voice where I will tackle this subject in more detail.


By Stephen Morales, ISBL CEO. March 2018