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NFER March 2020
NFER March 2020

What should your SBL be taking home?

January 29, 2020, 12:18 GMT+1
Read in 8 minutes
  • Hayley Dunn examines the factors at work when education employers set pay and conditions for their school business leadership roles...
What should your SBL be taking home?

The increasing number of academies and other autonomous structures in education has afforded greater flexibility in how remuneration for SBLs and SBMs is assessed. The pay, benefits and conditions for business leadership roles vary greatly, because the breadth and depth of roles is now extremely diverse.

Below are three examples of roles being advertised at the time of writing, in October 2019:

1. School business manager at a primary school (c600 pupils) in Leeds
The remuneration package included pay of £32,029 to £40,760 pro rata for a full-time, permanent position during term time, plus ten days. The successful candidate would have ‘leadership and management across a federation’, leading on the provision, development and operation of all school support functions, including finance, personnel, business administration and buildings.

2. Finance director at a college (c12,000 learners) in Liverpool
The remuneration package included pay of approximately £65,000 for 35 hours/week, with 25 days’ holiday, pension and flexible working hours. The successful candidate would have responsibility for all aspects of financial budgeting and reporting processes, compliance with external and internal reporting and audit requirements, strategic leadership and management of the IT services functions, including oversight of the IT infrastructure.

3. Administration and HR Manager at a secondary school (c240 students) in Greater London
The remuneration package included pay of £45,726 to £47,652 for a full-time, full-year position. The successful candidate would oversee and manage the admin base, and ensure all aspects of HR and admin are robust.

All three were school business leadership roles, but each had different requirements and responsibilities, illustrating the diversity of roles available. They also highlight the extent to which the remuneration packages and conditions of service offered by employers to SBPs can vary significantly. As a potential candidate, it’s important to read every recruitment pack carefully and ask questions to appraise whether the package (pay, benefits and conditions) being offered is fair and equitable against the expectations of the role, and where the role sits within the school leadership structure.

Descriptions and specifications

It’s essential that school leaders give due consideration to the job description and person specification for their SBL post, since it’s these two documents that will inform most decisions regarding pay. Where will the business leader post fit in the context of other leadership roles within the existing or proposed structure? Is the role equivalent in status to that of other senior leadership positions, such as deputy or assistant headteacher?

When determining the appropriate remuneration level for each post in your staffing structure, a useful starting point is to analyse the responsibilities of every role to ensure that the amount of pay is fair and equitable.

This analysis should cover the balance between leadership and management responsibilities, the challenges specific to each role, the level of strategic responsibility involved and all other relevant considerations. The process should be one similar to that now required when setting leadership pay, as set out under the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document.

For business leadership roles, the process should also examine the size of the budget the post holder will be expected to manage, any financial challenges affecting the organisation that they’ll have to contend with, and the percentage of whole school responsibility that they’ll be taking on.

When reviewing or determining a remuneration package, carefully assess the conditions element. Areas to bear in mind here might include diversity and equality, the staff member’s conditions of employment (such as pension contributions, holiday entitlements and working hours in term time versus the full year), annualised hours and other options.

Flexible working opportunities might also come up – will it be possible to vary the post holder’s start and finish times? Will there be any remote working opportunities?

Professional considerations

The conditions of a business leadership role extend far beyond immediate considerations of the hours needing to be worked and when. If, for example, the HR position cited above required the post holder to be a qualified and current member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, would that organisation’s annual fee be paid for by the employer?

Matters relating to professional development and training – including how course fees, travel costs and other expenses will be covered – should be a significant consideration for both employers and employees. Will you be prepared to offer the mentoring, coaching and release time involved when individuals undertake professional qualifications?

Be aware that many professional institutions require their members to undertake a certain number of CPD hours each year. The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, for example, requires its members to complete 40 units of CPD annually, made up of 21 verifiable CPD units and 19 non-verifiable. Those belonging to the Institute of School Business Leadership are required to complete 21 hours of CPD annually.

Other benefits attached to specific roles can include the provision of mobile phones for business use and initiatives around employees’ lifestyle and wellbeing, such as flu vaccinations.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it does set out some guiding principles regarding the more common indicators at play when evaluating the level of pay and conditions that will help you recruit and retain the right business leader(s) to your organisation. It’s important to evaluate those factors which are specific to your organisation and relate them to your particular circumstances, because every school and college is different.

Changing structures

Returning to those three example adverts at the start, I found that other than pay, working weeks and holiday, they contained little information for potential candidates about what was actually on offer to them, and no mention of the many different types of benefits now routinely offered by employers to their business leadership staff.

Alongside the indicators discussed above, schools also need to consider the ways in which business leadership roles can change when schools become MATs and when MATs take on more schools. When that happens, it’s often the case that business leaders’ responsibilities will change and grow – indeed, of all senior staff within a school, it’s typically the business leader’s role that will change the most over time.

It’s therefore vital that any re-evaluation or re-structuring processes are carried out in full consultation with the post holder(s), and that due consideration is given to the impact that any changes may have. If the role requires working across multiple sites, for example, then any time spent travelling between sites must be accounted for within the individual’s paid working hours and appropriate travel expenses paid.

Knowledge building

Further information can be found in the Green Book, which any staff who enjoy Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) (TUPE) Regulations protection will be covered by. I’d advise employers to consult their HR providers for assistance with this process, and school business professionals to seek advice from their professional association(s) and/or union.

A number of organisations, including the Institute of School Business Leadership and the Association of School and College Leaders, publish guidance for SBPs, headteachers and governors to support SBP recruitment and retention efforts.

ISBL recently published a document titled ‘ISBL Professional Standards – Headteacher and governance guidance’, which contains advice on recruitment, training and development, performance management and pay.

Hayley Dunn is school business leadership specialist for the Association of School and College Leaders and author of The School Business Manager’s Handbook, published by John Catt.

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