The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

School business management

John Viner

Dinners, winners and losers

The introduction of new criteria for free school meals eligibility has put some children's entitlement in doubt. John Viner summarises the change and its likely implications. With the roll-out of Universal Credit, parents claiming the credit had expected that they would also be entitled to claim...
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John Viner

The coming of age of the school business manager

John Viner returns to the starting blocks with a focus on what has happened in the increasingly professional world of SBMs. The professionalism of the school business manager (SBM), with its high expectations and high accountability is in significant contrast to its amateur beginnings and it may be...
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Jenn Alexander

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the fairest app of them all?

Apps can be the perfect platform to keep parents in the fold. Jenn Alexander explains how schools can embrace this technology and streamline their communication. Studies have shown that the more engaged the parent, the better the student performs. From a safeguarding perspective, reaching parents...
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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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