Qualifications for School Business Professionals

The profile and importance of the School Business Professional has risen quickly in recent years. This can be partly attributed to change in the sector as the majority of school systems in England change from a local authority school-based model to a centrally funded academy model.  It can also be attributed to the acknowledgement of the importance of the role of the School Business Professional. This pivotal role has evolved from the school bursar and school secretary; School Business Professionals are now senior members of non-teaching staff responsible for the business management of schools - all the administrative and logistical aspects of running a school efficiently and effectively.


ISBL is committed to the development of the profession and the people within it. We are striving to enhance the skills, competence and capability of professionals within the sector and have engaged with the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) to build and provide access to specific school business management qualifications for new or experienced professionals. These qualifications are based on the ISBL Professional Standards:


ILM qualifications

  • Level 4 Diploma in School Business Management (formerly CSBM)
  • Level 5 Diploma in School Business Leadership (formerly DSBM)


Many training providers offer these qualifications, including The SBM Partnership and Best Practice Network.


Which qualification is right for me?

Working in a school office, interested in developing office/admin skills then you may want to become a school business professional at a later date. We would propose that the SAFC level 3 leading to level 4 apprenticeship in SBM is most appropriate.

Already in the profession as school business manager (state or independent sector) or in a similar role - interested in day to day operations, want to develop or consolidate SBM skills. Then we would recommend that the level 4 diploma in school business management, level 4 apprenticeship in SBM or level 4 CIPFA finance training for SBMs (maintained schools) should be considered.

Experienced school business professional (state or independent sector) who is working closely with the senior leadership team and wants to develop management and leadership skills and specialist areas eg. HR, finance, aspiring COO/CFO. You should consider the level 5 diploma in school business management, Level 7 certificate in school financial and operational leadership or level 6-degree apprenticeship

Senior school business leader, probably in a large school, academy (primary/secondary) or MAT, or has strategic financial and operational responsibilities across several school sites, who is a member of their senior leadership team and looking to enhance professional development. Then we would suggest that the Level 7 certificate in school financial and operational leadership or level 6-degree apprenticeship.


Want to know more about the role? You can purchase the Introduction to School Business Management on-demand webinar here.

For a summary of qualifications click here

For more specific individual advice then please call the ISBL professional development team on 02476 231221 or email training@isbl.org.uk