The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

School business management

John Viner

Ofsted is coming: demonstrate a safeguarding culture

The strength of a school's safeguarding procedures is usually the first thing Ofsted will inspect. Here's what you need to prepare. As the year winds to a close, let’s review what schools need to do in order to demonstrate what Ofsted is now calling ‘culture of safeguarding’. Since the target...
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Sue Birchall

Ofsted is coming: how SBMs can prepare

No truer is the saying 'Proper preparation prevents poor performance' than when an inspector calls. Here are the steps school business managers can take to stay ahead. For many school leaders, the autumn term can be the winter of their discontent. Image source: HBO At the beginning of term, nothing...
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Sue Birchall

A day in the life of a SBM

I recently left my job as the financial controller of a multi-academy trust and returned to a more ‘traditional’ school business manager role. Or you could say I rejoined the circus. If I look up to the ceiling in my office, all I can see are a series of spinning plates that I – the school's top-...
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Nickii Messer

School business management or leadership – does it matter?

Does a move from school business management to school business leadership mean that some skills are being downgraded, or no longer seen as useful? Having been a committed supporter of the National Association of School Business Management (NASBM) for many years, I still remember the (many)...
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Nickii Messer

Budget cutting should be long-term, not knee-jerk

In a climate of ever-tightening purse strings, it’s all too easy for school business leaders to overlook strategic plans and make hasty attempts to cut staff in order to balance the budget. With most schools feeling the pinch – or the tight grip of a vice, in some cases – of rapidly shrinking...
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Alex Masters

Let’s end the fear around academisation

SBMs up and down the country are full of trepidation about their school’s impending academisation. We need to see this as an opportunity, rather than threat. ‘When nothing is sure, everything is possible.’ It’s fair to say that the education system is always in a state of flux and, given the fact...
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Matthew Clement...

Fairer funding or financial catastrophe? Stephen Morales on challenging the status quo

I recently asked Stephen Morales, CEO of the Institute of School Business Leadership, for his view on the impact of recent funding issues on schools. Throughout the interview, Stephen was as measured and diplomatic as you would expect of someone in his position. ISBL (formerly NASBM) is an...
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Nickii Messer

Why aren't more schools business savvy?

It is disheartening that so many schools continue to make poor financial decisions at the expense of their pupils' life chances. If they are to stay solvent, SBMs must spend strategically! To prove that I am such a hard-nosed business lady, my friends like to recall the time that, when held up and...
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Nickii Messer

SBMs: what do you mean 'it’s difficult'?

School business management is no picnic, but what do we mean when we dismiss a challenge as 'difficult'? I’m constantly wrestling with how school business managers can best equip themselves for the challenges ahead. We know that: budgets will continue to be squeezed maintained schools face...
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Alex Masters

Are you feeling underappreciated? This needs to stop!

Many SBMs have positive relations with their heads. However, others continue to suffer misunderstanding and disrespect. ‘I love my head!’ one SBM told me. ‘He’s at the forefront of education but still cares about every child and every member of staff. A rare breed.’ ‘Mine is amazing!’ another...
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