Apprenticeships offer aspiring and practicing school business professionals (SBPs) the opportunity to combine practical training and study. ISBL has supported the development of a suite of apprenticeship programmes, which have been specially contextualised for the education sector. These programmes are underpinned by the ISBL Professional Standards.

Those undertaking apprenticeships in the sector are encouraged to become ISBL members and enjoy the benefits that membership provides, as their professional development journey opens up an exciting, challenging and rewarding career.

Apprenticeship programmes suitable for school business professionals are outlined below:

  • Level 3 Business Administrator
  • Level 4 School Business Professional
  • Level 6 Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship (CMDA)
  • Level 7 Senior Leadership

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

The Best Practice Network is now registered as an end-point assessment organisation (EPAO) for the Level 4 School Business Professional Apprenticeship (SBPA), and we will working with them on the end-point assessment. More information can be found here.


Level 4 Apprenticeship

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. 

This Apprenticeship is mapped to the ISBL Professional Standards. It is offered nationally by many training providers.


Level 6 Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship (CMDA)

This Level 6 degree apprenticeship 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 School Business Director and Chief Operating Officer 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. Weoard 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.

The SBL degree apprenticeship programme is now available via Chester University - more information is available here.


Organisations offering this apprenticeship suitable for SBPs

  • The University of Chester offers a BA in School Business Leadership and Management. Contact Dr Steve Lambert –
  • Serco Education. Contact –
  • The University of Chichester, contact Sandra Coley, Head of Enterprise Services –


Level 7 Apprenticeship – Senior Leadership

The Senior Leaders Masters Degree Apprenticeship (SLMDA) for School Leaders will be a two-year Level 7 Masters programme and will enable middle and senior school leaders, such as School Business Directors, Chief Operating Officers, Chief Executive Officers and Chief Finance Officers, the opportunity to complete a Master’s degree in school business management. It is due to be available in Autumn 2019.


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. 

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.

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 educational outcomes for children and young people.


Next steps

For more information contact –

Apprenticeships on website –