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School Business Leadership in Crisis?

A few weeks ago, NAHT published a report entitled School Business Leadership in Crisis, (click the link to read the report in full) which found that

School business leadership is on the edge – with urgent and coordinated action required to ensure sufficient school business leaders for now and in the future.

The report didn't get the attention is deserved in the education press or in the wider sector, which is exactly, and sadly, the point. The School Business Leadership profession is not given the attention it deserves and its voice is rarely heard. But I have a loud voice and I care very deeply about my profession and our role in the betterment of the education system, so I am not prepared to let such an important and critical issue sink without trace. here are my thoughts on the report's findings:

No Surprises

As I opened the final draft of the NAHT’s report ‘School Business Leadership in Crisis’, I realised I already knew what it would say. I could guess the headlines, estimate many of the percentages and recite the reasons behind the outcomes, in my sleep. The report contains some shocking statistics about the state of the school business leadership profession. Shocking to anyone who isn’t a School Business Leader, that is. The report is not about the competency of those in the role, nor about the management of school and academy finances, or any other spin on the latest government drive to send consultants into our schools at our own expense.

No, this report is about people - the kind of people who rarely make a fuss and who rarely make headlines, who frequently aren’t recognised as school leaders, but who hold the safety, financial security and strategic direction of our school system in their hands. People who quietly fix, resolve, and enable, and people who are now desperately trying to be heard.

What We Are Not

School business leaders are ‘not’ many things. They are not habitually included in discussions and communications about school leadership. They are not qualified teachers and are frequently excluded from education debates because of this. They are not represented adequately in events and conferences arranged by education-based organisations. They are not addressed directly by the DfE as a profession. Details about their role, salary, conditions of employment, performance, qualifications are not held anywhere centrally, by anyone. It is a profession with no structure, no formal governance and no clear agenda. The role doesn’t even exist in the annual workforce census that every school in the country must complete. Instead the post of ‘bursar’ is the only available option - an archaic term that fails to represent the key strategic and vital role that Schools Business Leaders and Professionals carry out.