In 2014, the School Business Manager Primary Cluster Grant was made available to schools. The grants were open to bids from clusters of primary schools to assist in the appointment of a cluster based school business manager. This role was one of the recommendations from the Department for Education’s Review of Efficiency in Schools, which highlighted the importance of having the expertise of a good school business manager, and how this was a factor associated with efficiency in the most effective schools.
There is much evidence to support the appointment of SBMs to provide:
- Financial savings, through improved procurement
- Financial efficiency
- Income generation
- And time savings for head teachers.
Typically successful applicants had no access to professional school business management, and the cluster approach has provided a cost effective means to providing a first-time solution to this.
Following the application process, 68 grants were approved and provided by the Department for Education (DfE). The successful applicants received funding to the value of £25,000 to support the appointment.
Case studies of impact
This section presents the case studies of impact from the SBM Grant to facilitate the sharing of best practice. The case studies were categorised according to a number of themes (highlighted below).
Theme 1. Strategic planning - the Cluster SBM as a member of SLT and working with Governors in the strategic leadership and development of schools/cluster: Acorn Alliance (Norfolk) and Oval cluster (inner city London)
Themes 2 and 3. Shared service and economies of scale in small rural schools leading to identifiable savings: Windmill Federation (Norfolk) and Woolacombe (North Devon)
Themes 4 and 5. Mixed status schools working collaboratively on cluster projects and secondary school working with primary schools, leading to the provision of shared services: Bolton Schools Catholic Education Partnership and Glaisdale (Yorkshire and Teeside)
Theme 6. Joint procurement savings from purchase or renegotiation of a contract: Acorn Alliance and All Hallows (Cheshire) and Easingwold and Village Academy (Kent)
Theme 7: Staff restructure leading to savings or improved utilisation: Probus (Cornwall) and Wickford (Essex)
Theme 8. School maintenance savings and shared resources: Acorn Alliance and Ancaster (Lincolnshire)
Theme 9. Financial, audit and management control improvements leading to savings or improved reporting: Ecton Brook and Oundle and Welton (all based in Northamptonshire) and All Hallows and Village Academy
Theme 10. Improved outcomes for pupils through a new facility or service: Aspire Learning Trust (West Yorkshire) and Probus
Theme 11. Management of existing contractor(s) leading to savings/improved service: South Lakes Rural Partnership
Theme 12. Income generation - grants bid/income strategy: Village Academy and Wickford
Theme 13. Multi-site working: All Hallows and St Columb (Cornwall)
Themes 14 and 15. Formation of a new cluster and creation of a new SBM role: Glaisdale and Probus and Skegness