A career in School Business Leadership

School business managers make a significant contribution to the effective financial management of a school, saving on average 20–33 per cent of a head teacher’s time and covering their own salary in savings. Obtaining the services (shared or full time) of a high quality business manager should be a priority for all governors and head teachers ...”

Source: The Importance of Teaching, The Schools White Paper, 2010

Efficient school business management is widely recognised as an integral part of helping schools make the best use of their resources to support effective teaching and learning of pupils, consequently enabling head teachers and other leaders to focus on leading that teaching and learning. The profession is an enticing and exciting career option, offering significant responsibility and varied roles.

These messages are as important and pertinent to ISBL as they were to NASBM. ISBL will continue to focus on the contribution that School Business Leaders make and through the hard work, endeavour and competence of our Members and Fellows raise the profile of the profession wherever possible.


Evolution of School Business Leadership (SBL) roles

Current government policies are driving a shift of responsibility for strategic decision-making and management of school resources away from central government and local authorities towards individual schools and academy trusts. SBL professionals have a key role in managing this transfer of accountability and this devolvement of responsibility to schools has enabled many of them to develop their existing school support roles into significant management and leadership positions. 

According to ISBL research, SBL professionals have moved into the profession from the private sector – from financial, banking, leadership, management, IT, premises and HR roles. 


Responsibilities of the School Business Leadership professional 

The responsibilities of a school business management professional, as defined by the ISBL Professional Standards, include:

  • Leading Support Services
  • Finance
  • Procurement
  • Infrastructure
  • Human Resources
  • Marketing

Roles, levels of responsibility and salaries vary from school to school as do the job titles relating to school business management roles – School Business Manager, Bursar, Finance Officer, Office Manager, Director of Finance, Director of Resources, Head of School Support Staff, Administrator, Secretary. Many School Business Leadership professionals are members of school leadership teams although this is not always the case. 


Moving from other sectors into school business management

Some SBL posts require specific experience and school business management qualifications (see SBM Qualifications and Competency Framework) but many will not and are therefore open to professionals currently working outside of education.

See the resources and related information for more information on training for those considering a career in school business management