A person who works in a school business manager job is still sometimes referred to as a bursar. They are employed by schools to improve efficiency at the establishment through the effective management of finances and resources. A good school business manager (SBM) brings a business dimension to a school's strategic planning, although the precise duties will depend on the specific needs, size and status of the school.

School business manager jobs.

A school business manager is expected to have proven experience in the fields of finance, project management and/or human resources, and may often begin working at the school in another administrative or accountancy role.

What does a school business manager do?

A school business manager is responsible for:

  • drawing up the budget
  • HR duties, including assisting with the recruitment process
  • premises management 
  • managing non-teaching staff

The day to day duties of an SBM are varied, and no two days are the same. An SBM is also expected to attend senior management meetings and governor committee meetings. Should a head teacher take extended sick leave or is otherwise absent, a school business manager will also take on responsibility for the financial decisions of the school. 

Up-to-date with the latest software and computer programs, a good SBM should be able to:

  • use data analysis, evaluation and reporting systems to maximise efficiency
  • understand benchmark systems
  • prepare returns for the Department of Education (DfE) and the local education authority (along with any other agencies or stakeholders) within statutory guidelines.

Who does an SBM work with?

A school business manager works with closely the school's head teacher and its senior leadership team on a day to day basis. An SBM is also in daily contact with the school's support staff, they are expected to lead and manage.

It is now a completely accepted part of the school's landscape and is a job that requires contact with the entire staff body at some point or another, from teachers and technicians to dinner ladies and cleaners.

Why would a school employ a business manager?

As schools become more and more autonomous and less under local authority control, the role of the SBM has grown over the past 20 years, from virtually nonexistent to an integral part of the senior leadership team.

School business managers are essential in ensuring staff numbers match student intake. They are particularly important in academies, which operate outside the local authority sphere: here, accounts must meet both Companies House and charity regulations, with annual five-day audits and strict financial controls in place.

Further information for candidates.

While some schools do not expect formal qualifications, anybody considering a career in school business management is advised to take a course at the National College for Teaching and Leadership, where training is offered at certificate, diploma and advanced diploma level. The minimum qualification, the certificate of school business management (CSBM), is usually one of the key requirements for a school business manager posting.