Education Needs: Business Managers

My mother is still in touch, and friends, with ‘her’ old School Secretary, 30 years after she (mother) retired. A formidable pair in their day (a fact made to me by a current deputy head who I met recently who had worked with her in the past), the secretary knew absolutely everything about the school: the teachers, the students, the parents and based on a telephone conversation between the two of them recently it is a skill that has not deserted her!

Nowadays I guess she would be called the Business Manager, although with the greatest respect she would not get the job. I have the utmost admiration and respect for the Business Manager, but part of me can’t help but feel that schools should not need one. I have yet to read a document that couldn’t have got the same message over in a quarter of the words.

IF schools need to be ‘managed’ then I think they should concentrate on getting more business like in their approach: Governors, Business Managers with actual business experience, closer links with local businesses.

The requirements to be a Business Manager are comprehensive:

  • leadership skills
  • business management skills
  • customer service skills
  • the ability to work well with others
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • maths and financial skills
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • knowledge of human resources and employment law
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages confidently

The role includes a range of day to day tasks:

  • advise the headteacher and governors on financial policy
  • manage the school budget
  • order goods and services and pay suppliers and contractors
  • keep accounts up to date for inspection
  • oversee the maintenance of school buildings
  • recruit, train and manage school support staff
  • make sure school security and health and safety policies are followed
  • develop the school’s marketing and communications strategy
  • manage the school’s administrative systems
  • report to the headteacher, governors, and local authority and government departments