ISBL Professional Standards

The School Business Professional Standard have been developed by the sector for the sector. They are fully endorsed by representative bodies and by relevant professional bodies including the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. Additionally, these standards are recognised by the Department for Education as the key reference document for evaluating professional competency.
The professional standards set out the core and specialist areas of competency required to operate at four tiers of practice from entry level to executive leadership.

These standards also provide a framework for continued professional development, career progression planning and are designed to assist and compliment performance management.



The Institute of School Business Leadership (ISBL) believes that all roles within the school business profession, from Administrative Officer to Finance and Operations Director, should be supported by a set of professional standards. The standards set out here aim to establish a clear blueprint for effective school and academy business leaders and they celebrate existing best practice. The standards framework sets out the six main disciplines of school business leadership, along with six principal behaviours required to be effective in the school business profession.

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Values and Ethics

ISBL and its members are committed to demonstrating the highest standards of personal and professional conduct, to providing professional leadership in their schools and communities and to maintaining their professional competence.

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Is adaptable, flexible and capable of leading and managing change.

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Can identify and consider options, make recommendations and robustly defend decisions in a timely manner, using evidence to support proposals.

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Inspires and motivates others within their team, school/trust and the wider profession. Leads functions, people and /or projects within the remit of their autonomy and responsibility.

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Works effectively and inclusively both within and outside of the organisation so individuals, teams and the learning community can benefit from shared capacity and knowledge.

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Uses resources, information and knowledge to overcome obstacles and finds creative/innovative solutions to develop self, team and/or organisation.

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Emotionally intelligent

Manages and uses emotional intelligence when problem-solving and considers new innovations and change.

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Human Resources

Human resource management ensuring regulatory and legal compliance and managing, supporting and developing staff to ensure delivery of the schools/trusts strategic priorities in line with the vision and School Development Plan (SDP).

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Ensure the development of a marketing and communication strategy which promotes the school/trust and defines the brand, aims and goals. Develop pupil recruitment, stakeholder engagement via appropriate communication channels and maximise income generation.

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Ensure the effective management, reporting and recording of the schools/trusts finances, including budget planning, monitoring, control and communication of financial information for decision-making.

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Ensure the fundamental facilities and services necessary for the school/trust to function are maintained to drive sustainability, support teaching and learning excellence. Assist in expansion and support community engagement.

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Procure goods and services on a value-for-money basis (economy, efficiency and effectiveness) to support education delivery within the context of regulatory frameworks and legislation.

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Leading Support Services

Lead, develop and coordinate support services, or your specialist function(s), to support outcomes for pupils across the school/trust by providing high-quality solutions.

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SBP Self-assessment

Whether you are a new or experienced school business professional , self-assessment against the Professional Standards will provide you both with a greater awareness of your training and development needs and in turn will help support your career aspirations.

In partnership with Best Practice Network we have developed a self-assessment tool to help members recognise their own valuable existing skills and experience but also help them identify any knowledge or training gaps.


Headteacher and governance guidance

To help provide schools leaders, governors and trustees with a better understanding of the School Business Professional and what to expect from the role we have produced this summary document.

Click here to find out more.

This document is designed to assist with recruitment, performance management, organisational design and training needs analysis.


Case studies

These case studies aim to provide real and lived examples of how the ISBL Professional Standards can be used demonstrate role effectiveness. They show how the standards can support both performance management discussions and assist with career progression. (add a single link to these case studies documents)

Aspiring School Business Leader self-assessment

Charlotte Allin – Click here to access her case study.

School Business Leader self-assessment

Lesley Burton  – Click here to access her case study.

Alison Lodge – Click here to access her case study.

School Business Leader role description updates

Gill Sax – Click here to access her case study.

School Business Leader job role and salary benchmarking using the Professional Standards and sector research

Jo Marchant – Click here to access the salary benchmarking exercise

School Business Manager and Company Secretary – career journey, self-assessment and organisational development

Alison Moon- Click here to access her case study.

Christine Bellchamber- Click here to access her case study.

Director – supporting the SBM team in a Trust

Josh Greaves – Click here to access his case study.
Providing headteachers, senior leaders and governors with guidance and support to ensure the optimum effectiveness of their school business professional (SBP).

Effective school business leadership is an essential ingredient for any successful school or trust. The way in which the pillars of school leadership (pedagogy, governance and business operations) interact is also an important factor. We believe that when headteachers, governors and SBPs work seamlessly together drawing on their respective knowledge, experience and niche expertise then great things happen. ICFP ) is one example of how this can work by integrating curriculum ambitions with sustainable financial planning.

ISBL have long advocated for joined-up and integrated leadership. We have worked closely with sector organisations and the DfE promoting this concept. Our work led to sector bodies co-signing a statement that you can read here. You can also read more about our collaborative efforts to bring education leadership and governance together here.

Our Professional Standards set out a clear expectation for SBPs operating at every level from entry to executive leadership. These standards have the greatest impact when CEOs, headteachers, governors and trustee engage in the document and understand the requirements.

To help make the information more digestible we have created an employer’s guide that you access here.

Professional standards provide the key central reference point for SBP recruitment, performance management and professional development.