Level 4 School Business Professional Apprenticeship (SBPA)

What does the apprenticeship cover?

The School Business Professional Apprenticeship will develop the knowledge, skills and behaviours required by school business professionals in all of the ISBL professional disciplines at tiers 1 and 2. The programme reflects the changing roles performed by school business professionals across schools and academies. It will help you manage school resources more efficiently and effectively, evaluate the nature of school business operations within your school and gain specialist expertise in leading support services.

Some providers also offer the Level 4 Diploma for School Business Managers as an optional qualification within this apprenticeship. If required, providers will support you to improve your English and maths to level 2.

What will I learn?

There are six units within the programme based on the six professional disciplines of the ISBL professional standards and behaviours. In addition, apprentices will study change management and leading school efficiencies and complete a work-based project that addresses genuine challenges within their school.

Learning content includes:

  • managing school budgets and financial controls
  • reporting on performance
  • managing payroll and maintaining accounts
  • financial reporting
  • managing school sites
  • procurement and overseeing contract management
  • identification of income generation opportunities
  • preparation of marketing materials and marketing activities
  • managing office, support staff and administrative systems
  • ensuring compliance with and implementation of safeguarding and health and safety policies so that all stakeholders work safely.

We were part of the Trailblazer group that developed the SBPA, and it is mapped to the ISBL Professional Standards.

You can read more about this apprenticeship standard on the Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education website.

Who is it for?

The SBP Apprenticeship is aimed at both new and existing school business managers and those in similar business or support roles (e.g. Finance Manager, Office Manager, Senior Administrator, Business Support Officer, Bursar, HR Manager) employed in schools, academies and trusts.

This apprenticeship is suitable for those wanting to enter the profession, including those currently working in school business administrative management roles. It is also suitable for those existing SBPs who haven’t yet achieved a Level 4 school business professional qualification.

“The course has provided me with the knowledge and toolkit to fulfil the role as an SBM. I have been able to build relationships with my peers within the senior leadership team, the staff and support the growth and development of the school. I have been able to identify that each of the professional disciplines does not sit in isolation to each other, but a blend of all of them achieves the best outcomes.”

Read more about Emma Jenkin’s experience of the SBPA here.

How long does it take?

The programme length can vary depending on your provider. It can be from 18–21 months in total.

At the end of your apprenticeship, there will be a three-month window where you will prepare for the end-point assessment.

Providers will work with you and your employer to agree a plan that will meet the 20% on-the-job requirement; this might include face-to-face work, VLE work, project work and day courses.

Where is it offered and what types of learning options are available?

This apprenticeship is offered nationally through several different apprenticeship providers.

The apprenticeship is open to learners throughout England in both levy- and non-levy-funded schools, academies and trusts.

Start dates and delivery methods vary from provider to provider but include several face-to-face workshops, online learning activities and assignments, as well as termly visits to the workplace or touch-point calls. During the apprenticeship, you will also build a portfolio of evidence.

There is no prescription on how the SBPA should be delivered by any learning provider delivering this apprenticeship. The only requirement is that all areas of the standard – skills, knowledge and behaviour are sufficiently covered and the assessment measures set out are completed before the candidate can proceed to gateway and to the end point assessment. Therefore employers should look at training providers offering the SBP apprenticeship and decide which programme of study best suits their employee and their organisation.

Training providers offering apprenticeships can be found here.

Who are the End-Point Assessment Organisations?

There are two end-point assessment organisations (EPAO) for the Level 4 School Business Professional Apprenticeship (SBPA):