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Across the country: how are SBMs really feeling?

From funding and academisation to recruitment and pensions, what do SBMs really feel about today’s pressing issues? Matthew Clements-Wheeler investigates

Author details

Matthew Clements-Wheeler is a business manager and deputy head at Bordesley Green Girls' School. He is a fellow and trustee of the National Association of School Business Management.

Whatever the age range, type or location of their schools, there are a number of issues that are keeping school business leaders awake at night. Funding (including the long-awaited national funding formula), academisation and the rise in importance of multi-academy trusts are big concerns.

These issues are played out over and over in the national press. But how representative are these national debates?

Find out SBMs' key issues below as well as links to relevant resources and expert advice. 


Research (carried out by Matthew Clements-Wheeler) showed that 75% of school leaders describe themselves as concerned about the financial position of their school.

Key issues were:

  • long-term funding
  • changes to the national funding formula
  • forecasting
  • impact on school resources
  • the impact of increased teachers’ pension contribution and NI on budgets
  • no additional funding for pay rises
  • support staff easily seen as targets for reduced funding
  • reduced funding alongside cost increases, affording outstanding teachers, health and safety issues are harder to address with reduced funding.

Relevant resources:


Recruitment has to be one of the key ‘buzzwords’ this year. The main concerns are:

  • issues with recruiting science, humanities and maths staff
  • general lack of candidates
  • poor quality applicants, especially for leadership posts.
  • retaining skilled support staff in the face of rising living costs
  • worried about their ability to grow capacity in advance of demand
  • maintain standards during a period of expansion.
  • becoming harder to be certain of recruiting the best quality NQTs.

Relevant resources:


While there are clearly many benefits to collaboration (as we wills see later) there were also many concerns:

  • MATs and staff restructures
  • working collaboratively in rural areas
  • competing agendas
  • capacity
  • appetite for collaboration.

Relevant resources:


Thankfully, there was also much optimism across the country, particularly with regards to collaboration, including:

  • MATs are ideal for schools with particularly large deficits 
  • collaboration is great for sharing ICT services, employing educational psychologists, facilities management, cleaning and catering
  • outstanding and teaching schools can monetise their expertise and generate traded income to support their budgets
  • moving procurement away from LA provision.

Relevant resources


This is a summary taken from Matthew's article in our most recent (September 2016) issue of Insight magazine. 

Last Updated: 
22 Aug 2016