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What do you do?

In this blog we explore some of the support roles found in schools today and the duties of each. Listed below are just a handful of roles and the associated duties listed in sample job descriptions:

Leadership and strategy coordinator: 5 total duties including negotiating and strategic decision making.

Financial resource manager: 15 total duties including submitting budgets and selecting appropriate investments.

Administration manager: 9 total duties including developing affordable process measures and benchmarking systems.

ICT manager: 8 total duties including ensuring contingency plans are in place and consulting with relevant parties.

HR manager: 10 total duties including managing payroll services and recruitment.

FM manager: 10 total duties including managing the maintenance of the school site and letting of the school premises.

Health and safety manager: 9 total duties including conducting risk assessments and ensuring security.

These jobs appear demanding and the individual must assume some great responsibilities.

The thing is, often, all of these duties (66) and job roles (7) are collated into a single individual known as a school business manager (or hero).

The role of a school business manager (SBM) is a relatively recent phenomenon. As schools become more autonomous they will become increasingly prevalent and, without a doubt, necessary. Around 90% of secondary schools and 40% of primary schools are thought to have access to an SBM.

A modern day SBM can come from a variety of backgrounds including banking, accountancy and, commonly, school secretaries or office managers. Most will undergo some form of training to enhance their performance and knowledge.

The National College of Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) has a School Business Management Development Programme consisting of four distinct parts:

  1. The Certificate of School Business Management (CSBM) – 8 to 12 months.
  2. The Diploma of School Business Management (DSBM) – 8 to 12 months.
  3. The Advanced Diploma of School Business Management – 8 to 12 months.
  4. The School Business Director’s Course (SBD) – 18 months.

Duties vary from role to role but, typically, they include the following:

  • Financial management – budget setting and contract negotiations.
  • Financial reporting – fundraising and ensuring best use of resources.
  • Managing support staff – everyone from teaching assistant to cleaners.
  • Human resources – overseeing staff training, recruitment and safeguarding matters.
  • Health and safety – premises management, security and risk assessments.
  • Relationship management – other schools and external partners.

They usually report to the Headteacher and in larger schools will delegate some of these roles to other staff. However, responsibility will commonly begin and end with them. As a result, many school business managers are highly sought after and can save schools incredible amounts of money. According to the NCTL, an SBM can save a primary school an average of £18,000 a year. This increases to £56,000 for a secondary.

To do this, SBMs can be inventive in their methods. One SBM told how she researches similar schools spending much less and yet achieving the same outcomes, She then contacts them directly to understand more about what they are doing. Applying this open-minded, collaborative technique has enabled the school to save significant sums.

As you can see, the role(s) of an SBM are varied, difficult and time consuming. TheSchoolBus is becoming the go-to tool for SBMs to help ease this mighty load. If your school is in desperate need of an SBM, The National Association of School Business Management (NASBM) is managing applications for match funding of up to £25,000 for employing an SBM in a leadership. The deadline for applications is 13 June. However, applicants should register their interest by emailing sbmgrant@nasbm.co.uk by 6 June so be sure to act fast!

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