Alex Masters

NASBM awards celebrate SBM transformation

The recent NASBM awards ceremony showed how dramatically the role of the SBM has changed. But there is still more to be done to promote understanding.

The education landscape is in a constant state of flux: from policy change and academy growth to MATs expansion and LA contraction. These changes have, inevitably, placed a heightened focus on the school business manager.

With greater recognition comes greater responsibility: the SBM role is more complex and varied than ever; they are becoming more integrated into the SLT (and rightly so); they face burgeoning financial challenges; and many are working across a number of schools.

This year’s NASBM awards were a fantastic way to show our growing understanding and appreciation of the SBM’s role. The atmosphere was electric and it was a prime opportunity for networking and sharing best practice, new ideas and concerns.

But what really stood out was the overwhelming modesty of the winners. As each came up to collect their award, they were self-effacing and determined to stress that they couldn’t achieve anything without the support from other staff members. ‘Without the team at school and at home we’d be nothing,’ Hazel Wade, SBM at Sir John Lawes school, said as she collected her award for Strategy, efficiency and governance.

Collaboration

And this gets to the crux of what success looks like, not just for SBMs but for any job role or organisation: collaboration. From working in a small team to joining a MAT, it doesn’t take long to realise that working together is infinitely more effective than working alone. As the saying goes: ‘Competition makes us faster; collaboration makes us better.’

But this is still a work in progress: there are many staff members who still lack understanding of their SBM’s role; financial burdens are piling on the pressure and SBMs are having to think of more creative ideas; and we’ve heard many stories of how SBMs are still struggling to be heard by their senior leadership team.

The solution? We need more ceremonies like the NASBM awards to celebrate; we need more opportunities to network and share ideas; and we need to promote understanding of the role as wide as possible.

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