What is a School Resource Management Adviser (SRMA)?

SRMAs are practitioners, such as school business professionals and headteachers, who provide peer-to-peer, tailored advice to individual trusts and schools on effective resource management. SRMAs are independently accredited to do this work to ensure all visits (deployments) take place to a consistently high standard. 

SRMAs share what they have learnt from working in their own settings and the good practice they are collecting from their visits to others. SRMAs drive transformational change within the sector by supporting schools and academies to maximise their use of resources in order to deliver positive educational outcomes. A key part of this is integrated curriculum and financial planning (ICFP).

SRMAs are experienced professionals with extensive up-to-date and practical experience and knowledge of the sector, and a record of success in their profession.

A role overview is available to download here.


What do SRMAs do?

The aims of the SRMA role is:

  • To provide a supported ICFP review where schools and trusts value working with an experienced peer and sharing of best practice.

  • Develop evidence-based recommendations which the organisation can take forward.

  • Promote and share best practice on managing resources across maintained schools and academy trusts, including the use of DFE tools and resources and identifying new procurement opportunities through the DfE Schools Commercial Team.

  • Build the financial capability of the sector to consistently high standards

  • Provide effective peer-to-peer support to schools and trusts that would most benefit.

  • Identify opportunities where schools and trusts can improve efficiency/increase their revenue generation.

  • Enable organisations to know how they can use ICFP to have the greatest impact on educational outcomes and reduce deficits/increase reserves.

  • Support schools and trusts to use the opportunity to strengthen their governance and oversight of their finances


Who do SRMAs support?

SRMAs support Academy Trusts and LA maintained schools who have come to the DfE’s attention as having poor financial health. SRMAs take a holistic view of the school’s/trust’s financial situation, including consideration of the following issues.

Human resources:

  • Efficient curriculum delivery

  • Workforce planning

  • Wider use of staff and leadership time

  • School management and governance

  • Financial management and challenge

  • Curriculum & financial planning

School Resources:

  • Procurement eg consideration of National Deals, schools’ buying strategies etc.

  • Value for money

  • Capital finance and estate management

A role overview is available to download here.


DfE SRMA pilot evaluation

In the 2017/18 academic year, ISBL worked with the DfE to pilot the SRMA project to support the department’s wider excellent school resource management strategy. The DfE carried out an evaluation about the pilot programme to demonstrate the impact of the SRMA programme in providing tailored advice to academy trusts and schools on effective resource management. The pilot included SRMA deployments to 72 academy trusts.

The report from January 2020 shares useful insights into the initial phase of the SRMA programme which were incorporated into the full programme rollout.

DfE key findings were:

  • Trusts valued working with an expert peer, with 94% rating their experience of working with a SRMA as good or very good.

  • SRMAs were able to identify significant opportunities for the reallocation of funds for trusts to pursue.

  • Following a SRMA deployment, trusts were expecting to improve the overall financial health of the organisation or spend on areas, that will have the greatest impact on educational outcomes.

The full SRMA pilot evaluation report is available to read here.


What happens in a deployment?

A SRMA completes a supported ICFP review. 

By supported, it means that this is carried out in conjunction with the school leaders and so it is a collaborative process.

SRMA deployment preparation. 

SRMAs will aim to help the school leaders:

  • Get the right people involved - curriculum and financial planners need to work together

  • Create an educational vision statement for the school, where required

  • Conduct a thorough assessment of the current financial situation

  • Conduct a thorough assessment of the current  teaching resources

  • Choose ICFP tools to help identify the best data metrics to measure

  • Ensure that all school leaders, academy trustees and governors understand common ICFP terms

  • Use the basic principles of ICFP, so that everyone is ‘on-board’

SRMA deployment analysis 

SRMAs will:

  • Look at the curriculum schools wish to provide

  • Link curriculum costs to budget planning

  • Measure and benchmark key metrics

  • Establish common assumptions about what will change over 3 to 5 years, including pupil numbers and needs, funding, costs, staffing or educational policy

  • Reconcile staffing and curriculum plans with what can be delivered in a balanced budget

  • Make evidenced based strategic recommendations in a detailed report, which can be used by senior leaders and governors to consider the recommendations made and have clearly understand the implementation opportunities. 

SRMA deployments use of ICFP

SRMA will help schools to balance the relationships between:

  • The amount of teaching time required to run the timetable

  • The amount of support staff time required (outside of mainstream secondary settings)

  • The proportion of time teachers spend teaching

  • Class sizes

  • The cost of employing teachers

  • Available revenue including additional income to government funding

  • Non-staffing costs of running the school

  • The budget available for teaching costs

  • Some schools and trusts use additional metrics, such as ‘curriculum bonus’.


SRMAs are required to have a deep working knowledge of ICFP. Using ICFP, SRMAs link curriculum and financial planning to help achieve:

  • Educational success and financial sustainability

  • The best curriculum the school can afford that meets the needs of the pupils and considers and accounts for local context

There is no one way to approach ICFP, and no one set of tools that a SRMA uses. During a deployment a SRMA will include analysis of:

  • Teacher deployments

  • Use of support staff

  • Non-staffing costs

  • Balance of income and costs

SRMA measure a wide variety of variables to help schools and academies accurately predict the resources they can afford in the future.

SRMA make some assumptions about how things might change over the next few years. SRMA deployments help all school leaders plan for the future and provide time to effectively consider the recruitment of any new staff needed.

ICFP is most effective when it is used as a normal part of organisational planning activity and involves the senior leadership team, including your school business professional (e.g. School Business Manager) and governors. Find out more on ICFP here.

ICFP tools

SRMAs use a variety of free and paid for tools, available for different school types, contexts and situations.

The DfE has a number of useful tools for schools available free on gov.uk, which may be used during a deployment. To view the tools that SRMAs may using during a deployment click here.


DfE School Resource Management (SRM) programme


School resource management. 

The DfE provides a wide range of information, tools, training and guidance to help schools and multi-academy trusts with financial planning and resource management.

SRMA use these and other tools to provide a supported review during a deployment. The data and findings are used to provide an evidence-based set of recommendations which the organisation can use in their strategic planning and activity.


Integrated curriculum and financial planning (ICFP)

The DfE are encouraging schools to plan their curriculum and their finances in a combined exercise, providing free guidance and resources for heads, governors and school business managers to get started with ICFP. 

SRMA use ICFP as s a management process to help schools plan the best curriculum for their pupils with the funding, they have available. It can be used at any phase or type of school.

A SRMA ICFP review involves measuring the current curriculum, staffing structure and finances, and using the data to create a 3-to-5-year plan. The idea of linking curriculum and financial planning is not new.

Most schools probably use some ICFP processes already when reviewing their curriculum or financial strategy.


SRMA Supplier information

The DfE have procured a number of SRMA Supplier organisations. All SRMA must be signed up with one of these organisations. SRMA cannot be signed up with more than one Supplier. They work together in order that there is a consistently high-quality offer for all schools and academies nationally. ISBL is the only national supplier organisation. Other regional supplier organisations are available, see the list below.

Supplier organisations provide training and support for their SRMA to prepare for induction and accreditation, and their deployment activity.

They all work slightly differently, and candidates are encouraged to research these organisations to ensure they find the best fit for their own contexts and training requirements. SRMA are paid through their supplier not directly from DfE.

Please see the list of SRMA suppliers here.


How do I apply to become a SRMA with ISBL?

In order to become a SRMA with ISBL you need to:

  • Complete an application form and send to: SRMA@isbl.org.uk

  • Attend a 2-hour induction web-based session. This can be booked with ISBL after they have received your application at: SRMA@isbl.org.uk

  • Read in detail the SRMA guidance documentation and case study documentation before completing the desktop review.

  • Read the DfE SRM guidance and be familiar with the DfE SRM tools

  • Fully prepare for the accreditation panel session by a ensuring you have a deep working knowledge of ICFP. If necessary, attend training and purchase bespoke ICFP tools to enhance knowledge and working practice.

  • Once ready for assessment then you must book your accreditation panel which commences with a desk top case study task. Book this with ISBL via: SRMA@isbl.org.uk

  • Attend an accreditation panel session with 2 assessors, approx. 90 minutes, which is currently delivered using remote technology

  • Take time to review the frequently asked questions, which offers advice based on questions raised by previous candidates.

  • You will be paid by a fee to prepare for and attend the accreditation panel. This can be claimed from ISBL once the panel has been attended and relevant PO and information will be supplied to candidates.

Please see more details on the process here.



  • All SRMAs have to pass an independent accreditation panel

  • This has been developed by the DfE in partnership with the Institute of School Business Leadership (ISBL)

  • The purpose of accreditation is to ensure that those who were applying for the role had the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to undertake the role

  • SRMAs need to be credible, consistent, capable, confident, conscientious and have the capacity to carry out this vital role effectively

  • The assessment panel includes a desk-top case study review which was designed to closely mirror what an SRMA might expect to find on a deployment

  • Candidates received the desk-top review in advance of the panel so that this can be completed and assessed prior to attendance at the accreditation panel.

  • At the accreditation panel the candidate is expected to demonstrate how and why they have drawn-up the range of recommendations that the school or trust may wish to consider implementing, based on the supplied data in the case study.

  • During the accreditation panel discussion, assessors probe the recommendations made by the candidate and assess their understanding and use of ICFP metrics.

  • The accreditation panel discussion assesses if the candidate has the knowledge skills and experience to carry out a supportive ICFP review and can use the data to offer evidence-based recommendations.

ISBL application form 

Accreditation information

Induction information

If you still have questions before you complete your application and send this to SRMA@isbl.org.uk then please just send an email and we will be happy to discuss these with you.



During an SRMA deployment there are a number of documents which SRMAs may use. SRMA will be familiar with a range of ICFP ‘tools’. It is important to accurately calculate the 12 Key Metrics used in ICFP so that SRMAs can investigate potential areas of inefficiency and make informed, collaborative decisions. 

ISBL have developed a commercial ICFP tool which many SRMA use, called I-SOT, the ISBL School Optimisation Tool. This however is not a condition of being an ISBL SRMA. The cost of I-SOT for ISBL members, based on a single user is £149 . More details are available here.


I-SOT uses the ISBL approach to ICFP:

  • Guides users through a simple step-by-step process to enter the school’s data. 

  • Calculates the 12 Key Metrics. 

  • Applies a RAG rating system to the metrics to indicate which areas may be of concern and require further investigation. 

  • Is supported by accompanying documentation to help you understand the 12 Key Metrics and the calculations used. 

  • The I-SOT is an Excel based ICFP tool. We recommend that you use Excel 2013+ or 365 on Windows. Some elements of the I-SOT are currently not supported for Macs 


Benefits of being a SRMA with ISBL 

Approximately 100 SRMAs are part of the ISBL team, providing high levels of support and insight across our team of highly skilled practitioners.

ISBL is the only national supplier allowing us to offer SRMA deployments across all of the RSC regions.

ISBL have a dedicated team delivering the SRMA programme who provide support and training for all team members, and work with the DfE to ensure the programme makes a positive difference for schools and academies across the country.

ISBL have received consistently positive feedback about the work carried out by their team members

During 2020 many team members provided emergency and resilience support to schools and academies, as schools were faced with additional challenges to their school resources due to covid-19

In December 2020 Minister Baroness Berridge praised the work of the SRMA team, highlighting 3 emergency deployments which had been carried out by ISBL team members as excellent examples.

ISBL provide the following support and training in order to ensure that all team members can provide effective system leadership work:

  • National team networking and sharing of practice and policy

  • Mentoring opportunities through peer support

  • Peer Review on work and reports

  • Full quality assurance on deployment reports sent to the DfE

  • Monthly training and CPD sessions Link to Blog

  • Daily education news, policy & updates

Please see our team list and team profiles for further information.


Useful DfE links on Gov.uk

The SRMA programme is a DfE funded system leadership role. SRMAs will need to have a thorough working knowledge of the DfE school resource management tools and information on gov.uk. Areas that you may wish to review include: