If you have decided your next career aspiration is to become a school business manager (SBM). That is fantastic. It is brilliant career choice, with many options and opportunities.
But, do you know what it really means to be a business manager?
This blog post is my advice to help you make the right decision. My first piece of advice is to do your research! You wouldn’t make a life changing decision like buying a house without doing some checks, you should do the same for your career.
Here are my top tips for making sure your research is thorough:
What type of SBM job do you want?
This might seem like an odd question, but the job title ‘school business manager’ does not have a specific set job description, two roles in different schools are unlikely to be exactly the same, even if they are part of the same group.
For example, the task of arranging supply cover maybe undertaken by the SBM, Deputy Headteacher, even the Headteacher in some cases. There’s no set criteria.
Job advertisements are a useful source of information. Once you have read one or two job descriptions and person specifications you will soon realise that the SBM role comes in many different forms. You want to be looking for a role that fits with your experiences, skills and knowledge.
You may look at job description and find that it covers many areas i.e. finance, HR, H&S, etc and you might think that it isn’t possible that one person covers all those elements. They do. Be prepared that as an SBM you will need to be a mulit-tasker; and there will days where you don’t get to do a single thing on your to do list!
What type of school do you want to work in?
Consider if you want to work in an academy, maintained or independent school. Whether you want to work in a primary school, secondary school or across a group of schools.
The way schools and multi academy trusts work can be very different.
Consider whether you want to work in school that has a high level of deprivation; one that’s in a more affluent area; a large inner city school or a small rural school.
Schools come in all shapes and sizes, you need to find the one that fits you.
Think about your own personal values and what is important to you. Aim to match your values with that of the school.
Be assured that each type of school brings its own set of challenges.
Where can you go for support and advice?
Having a support network when you are an SBM is essential. It has the potential to be a lonely role, because you are likely to be the only person doing that type of role.
My top 5 suggestions for support and advice:
1. National Association of School Business Management (NASBM)
NASBM is a great source of support and guidance. Take a look at their website:
It has lots of useful information, including the SBM professional standards. Which covers in detail the elements of business management:
- Leading Support Services
A must read for the aspiring SBM!
2. Local Schools & SBM groups
It is usual practice in schools to offer a tour of the school when advertising a position. We are used to people visiting us. Try contacting a local school to see if you are able to meet the SBM; or contact your local SBM group and ask if you can go along to one of their meetings. Start building your own support network.
Here is a handy list of SBM Groups: https://goo.gl/q5d55w
There is an active and growing network of school business managers on Twitter. fulfilling different types of roles from HR Managers to Chief Operating Officers.
Twitter chats are a great source of information.
4. SBM blogs
Here are a few to look up…
- NASBM: https://goo.gl/VxkUHw – The blog posts are written by NASBM Fellows, so each one is written in a different style and covers a different subject.
- Working SBM: https://goo.gl/XoDF3z – Working SBM has a wonderful series of blogs titled #AskAnna
- SBM 365: https://goo.gl/mwA46b – This blog is from Hilary Goldsmith and she puts a wonderfully honest take on what it is like being an SBM
5. Association of School & College Leaders (ASCL)
ASCL is one of the leading professional bodies and holds a brilliant annual conference for School Business Leaders. Take a look at their website: https://www.ascl.org.uk/
These are just a few ideas to get you started. Becoming a school business manager has been one of the best decisions that I have ever made! If you have any questions or queries please post them below or Tweet me @ShropshireSBM