The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Alex Masters

Bravo to the NASBM awards: celebrating our unsung heroes

Optimus content lead Alex Masters supports the crucial role of the SBM and welcomes this year’s NASBM awards.

It’s distressing to hear a grown man crying on the phone. This was someone I’d never spoken to before: a school business manager sitting alone in his office and at his wit’s end. This SBM (who asked to remain anonymous) was clearly passionate about his job and wanted the absolute best for the children at his school. Yet, as he explained to me, he felt like he was hitting his head against a brick wall: in SLT meetings his colleagues consistently refused to listen to him and other staff appeared to have no idea what he actually did. He felt disrespected and demoralised. Speaking to SBMs up and down the country, this kind of story is not uncommon. Many face frequent battles with their SLT, including heads, who are often reluctant to hand over responsibility, or refuse to admit their lack of financial knowledge. Loneliness is also a recurring theme, with tales of teachers and SLT members congregating in the staff room and sharing their problems while SBMs are left feeling ostracised. I’ve also heard an overwhelming number complain that, during meetings, they are often demoted to tea-maker or minute-taker. Granted the role of the SBM is complex – no two business managers’ responsibilities are the same – but that is no excuse for ignorance… and it flies in the face of team spirit and mutual support that is so critical in any school. Contending with fierce budget cuts, unwelcome policy changes, soaring student numbers, not to mention their raft of responsibilities as project manager, HR expert and creative fundraiser, school business managers make a vital contribution to schools. What better way to redress this balance and celebrate their hard work and commitment than an awards ceremony?

The NASBM awards

PrintAt last, we have an organisation that is not only aware of the challenges SBMs face, but is also determined to give recognition to these diligent, dedicated people. The NASBM Awards 2015 will focus solely on the achievements of SBMs. ‘We’re looking for the leading lights in the profession whose work has transformed the whole school community – and could be an inspiration to others in the profession,’ said NASBM. Entry for the awards is completely free and you can nominate someone or put yourself forward. Entries will close at 17:00 on Wednesday 30 September, 2015. There are eight categories to choose from, and Optimus Education are the proud sponsors of the Policy category.

1. Policy

Government policies are changed and updated so frequently and it’s crucial that SBMs keep up with the implications for their school and profession. NASBM want to hear from SBMs who are heavily involved with policy in terms of interpretation and delivery.

Related content: Four model policies every SBM should have, which Optimus members can download now.

2. Leading support services

A chance for individuals to showcase how they are using resources in the most innovative ways. SBMs need to demonstrate how they are deploying resources inventively, and how this is allowing your school to flourish.

3. Core: strategy, efficiency and governance

This celebrates SBMs who are working with heads and governors to develop a strategic plan for the school. The winner will need to demonstrate the impact they make within the senior leadership team and in securing the future of the school.

4. Finance 

This is about demonstrating innovative approaches to effective financial management. NASBM want to know what you’ve achieved, how you have done it and what impact it’s having.

5. Procurement

Are you an expert at saving money by finding new suppliers or renegotiating contracts? NASBM are looking for SBMs who have made huge savings and efficiencies, and could see their approach rolled out across all schools.

Related content: procurement decision tree

6. Infrastructure

This is dedicated to managers who have shaped their school’s infrastructure to meet the needs of pupils, staff and the curriculum.

7. Marketing

Today’s schools have to build vital links with the local community and businesses to raise their profile. Can you show real entrepreneurial spirit in the process? Have you worked with a multitude of partners, delivering tangible results?

8. HR

It’s essential that managers deploy staff members effectively. How do you ensure your school attracts the best candidates? This is for SBMs who are leading HR, experimenting with new methods of employment.

Related content: recruitment checklist for keeping children safe

Having trouble accessing the resources above? Why not find out how Optimus supports schools with their CPD provision and request a demo of In-House Training and Knowledge Centre or take a free trial.

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