It’s an exciting but challenging time to be a school business professional (SBP). Recent changes to government education policy, the reduced role of local authorities and increasing requirement for technical expertise have all contributed to rapid change within the profession.
Schools need to become more business-savvy, without losing sight of their ultimate goal – improved learning outcomes for children. But with high numbers of practitioners from nonteaching backgrounds now entering the education sector, the school business profession is undeniably in a transitional phase. This poses obvious challenges, but also provides a fantastic opportunity to reshape the school business landscape for the future.
As CEO of NASBM, I know our members have a desire for greater professional recognition. The school business community is facing increased levels of scrutiny and accountability, for which it needs clear standards, robust CPD and rigorous evaluation of practice. That’s why, in November, NASBM will transition to become the Institute of School Business Leadership (ISBL).
The ISBL will have greater powers to help the profession evolve and face those scrutiny and accountability challenges. It will play a central role in professional development, qualifications and quality assurance. We’ll also provide research, resources and policy interpretation to keep our members on top of their game, and boost the overall reputation of the profession.
The narrative around education often focuses on the challenges faced by secondary schools, but NASBM’s move to institute will elevate the profession for all SBPs – not least those working in primary schools. With purse strings tightening, primaries have a particularly tough job ahead in demonstrating efficiency and sustainability, which can strain the relationships between teaching staff and SBPs – but that really needn’t be the case.
Under a new school business leadership professional standards framework, SBPs will be able to integrate more easily into school management and leadership teams and forge stronger relationships with headteachers. Our members will be equipped with the skills necessary to improve financial efficiency, without necessarily having to resort to severe cuts.
Many primary SBPs will feel further isolated if their school isn’t part of a MAT, but there are solutions here too. One of our members, for instance, recently established the South Yorkshire School Leaders Group – see sysbl.org.uk for more details. Initiatives like this are excellent for meeting like-minded professionals and facilitating the sharing of experiences, best practice and fresh solutions to new problems.
ISBL will be the only professional institute offering a clear career development path for both experienced SBPs, such as School Business Directors, as well as aspiring SBPs from outside the sector or those already working in education and pursuing a change of career. If you’re keen to have your work recognised, or want to help shape the future of school business leadership, then consider joining NASBM/ISBL today.
Stephen Morales is CEO of NASBM, which is transitioning to the Institute of School Business Leadership in November this year