The Value of the SBM

7 Nov 2019 | by Scott Sivier

I would be very surprised if there are any SBMs in the country that is not part of their leadership team, the SBMs I speak with, is, however not always fully involved. If this is the case then Headteachers need to rectify this, immediately.

There is much more to an SBM than just financial and budget management, even when SBMs are part of the leadership team, SBMs often express their frustrations that their roles and potential contributions are misunderstood by colleagues. I feel headteachers and senior leaders tend to think of the SBM role as budget-focused only and do not consider all the varied ways SBMs can potentially contribute to the school and leadership decisions. This can often lead to SBMs feeling isolated and under-valued, however, they can often offer a wider range of skills, knowledge and experiences from other industries than colleagues who have only ever worked in education. Sometimes it is not only about including the SBM as part of the leadership team but making sure headteachers and colleagues utilise and embrace them as an integral part of SLT.

Leaders and colleagues need to appreciate the need for effective school business management and the impact an SBM can have to whole-school impact. It is not enough for an SBM to have responsibilities equal to senior staff but without the same recognition. They need to play as much of a role and involvement as all SLT members. We are in a world and with a governmental focus that schools are no longer just schools, they are also businesses. I appreciate that this statement can and has caused tensions between some headteachers and SBMs. SBMs will always be advocates for a business type approach in schools and we all understand that the business aspect of the school is of great importance, however, we also need to appreciate that each school is a place of learning and the children must take priority. We need to keep promoting to headteachers and colleagues, to understand that the SBM’s role is to support the whole school improvement which will support and improve better opportunities for learners and achievement for pupils in our schools.

The SBM is not just in the role to set the budget and manage monies, they often manage support staff, oversee performance management, HR, GDPR responsibilities, marketing and PR, trips and the management of trips, managing Health & Safety, facility development, system management, professional development for all staff and communications. With so many responsibilities and experiences, often from other backgrounds and industries, SBMs can offer a different approach and have some great input/ideas to share at a leadership level.

It is time for everyone in schools to embrace the role of SBMs and headteachers to ensure they are utilising the SBM effectively at a leadership level. If your SBM is not part of your leadership team then I would recommend you change this and embrace an often different mindset to contributing towards leadership challenges and decisions.