Apprenticeships offer aspiring and practicing School Business Leadership professionals with the opportunity to combine practical training and study. ISBL has led the development of a number of new apprentice programmes that have been specially contextualised for the education sector. These programmes will offer a route to ISBL Membership and provide an exciting opportunity for professional and personal development.

Those undertaking apprenticeships in the sector are encouraged to become ISBL members and enjoy the benefits that membership will provide as the Professional Development journey opens up an exciting, challenging and rewarding career. Apprentice programmes for School Business Leaders are outlined below:

  • Level 3 Business Administrator – available now
  • Level 4 School Business Professional –  available now
  • Level 6 Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship (CMDA) – available now
  • Level 7 Senior Leadership –  Currently in the final stages of development and review - due to be available in 2018

ISBL has been working to ensure that the profession has the best possible opportunities to develop practitioners’ knowledge, skills and behaviours.

For more information about the Levy and how to access funding from it is available at the website under the Apprenticeship Levy 

Our approved partner Browne Jacobson gave an insight into making best use of the apprentice levy at the 2017 National Conference, a copy of their slides can be found here


ISBL's work on apprenticeships

Throughout 2016 and 2017, ISBL has been working and supporting the development of two apprenticeship project groups whose aim has been to develop specific programme standards for school business professionals at Level 4 and Level 6, which are underpinned by ISBL Professional Standards. The purpose of this is to ensure that schools across the country can access appropriate training for their school business professionals, which can be funded through the Apprenticeship Levy, introduced from April 2017.

ISBL leads a national Qualifications Board, which has supported our work on the development of the apprenticeship programmes. This Board is made up of school representatives, training providers, ILM, researchers, the Association of School & College Leaders (ASCL), NAHT, Unison and the DfE.

The Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA) has directed that it wishes to streamline the number of apprenticeships available, and, where possible, it wants existing apprenticeships to be utilised rather than specific new ones be developed. For this reason, ISBL is uniquely positioned to offer considered, relevant and appropriate content for School Business Leaders and works with others to ensure that this is reflected in the programmes relevancy to those working in the sector.


Level 4 apprenticeship

The IfA has confirmed that the Level 4 apprenticeship Standard has been approved. This new apprenticeship is suitable  for practitioners working in school business administrative management roles. It is expected that those professionals who undertake this apprenticeship route will supervise a team, processes or project, with responsibilities for individuals or for a team discharging a task or functions. For more information please contact the ISBL Professional Development Team on


Level 6 apprenticeship (degree level)

It has been proposed by the IfA that existing and potential School Business Directors should follow the route of the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship (CMDA). This is a Level 6 degree apprenticeship which is already successfully offered by Higher Educational Institutes (HEIs) throughout the country and is suitable for all those working at a managerial and strategic level. Importantly, the degree element allows the CMDA to be contextually specific to the SBD role.

Having undertaken a full review of the CMDA standard and assessment plan, ISBL is confident that the CMDA can be suitable for those working in schools. The ISBL Qualifications Board will encourage school business professionals to carefully select an HEI offering a degree which takes school context into account. There will not be a separate School Business Director apprenticeship. Therefore, the schools must use this CMDA Level 6 apprenticeship route to secure the funding for school-specific degree programmes.

ISBL has been working closely with several HEIs to develop degrees which are suitable for School Business Directors. These Level 6 degrees can be undertaken as part of the existing CMDA. They will map to the ISBL professional standards and cover all the essential elements of school business management and leadership.

New SBL degree apprenticeship programme now available from spring 2018 via Chester University - more information is available here.


Level 6 apprenticeship

A growing number of HEI providers are offering the CMDA with an educational context, they include –

  • The University of Chester is now offering one such degree, a BA in School Business Leadership and

 Management. Contact Dr Steve Lambert –


ISBL is engaging the employer group of a new Level 7 apprenticeship for Senior Leadership, which has been approved with conditions. This will be suitable for all those working at an executive level, including Chief Operating Officers (COO), Chief Finance Officers (CFO) and Chief Executives.


Making Apprenticeships accessible to all

It is envisaged that these apprenticeships will be undertaken by practitioners already working in schools, as well as professionals moving into the sector from industry. The Level 4 apprenticeship will also provide an entry level into the profession. Apprentices will have a desire to increase and improve their knowledge, skills and behaviour so that they can carry out the role in an efficient and effective way.

As well as apprenticeships, school business professionals can undertake a range of qualifications, which have been developed by ILM and ISBL and are underpinned with the ISBL Professional Standards. Currently, these are offered at Levels 4–6, and new revised Level 4 and Level 5 will be available in Spring 2018.

The professional qualifications are available through several training organisations. These providers work with ILM, ensuring a consistently high quality and delivery across the country. Qualified practitioners are in a better position to improve resource management within schools, academies, federations and MATs and so improve education.


Next steps

For more information contact –

Apprenticeships on website –