Diploma for School Business Managers (DSBM) - Case Studies
Designed for existing and aspiring school business managers who wish to enhance their leadership, management and administrative skills alongside their knowledge and understanding of key areas of school business management, through a professional qualification.Apply now
Having been a Business teacher and middle leader in secondary and further education institutions, I was always really interested in the business and financial decision-making involved in running a school. In October 2020, I therefore decided to enrol on the Level 4 Diploma in School Business Management through Best Practice Network, whilst continuing my day-to-day responsibilities as a teacher.
As a non-specialist and someone who has not worked as a School Business Manager, the first thing I will say is that the course is accessible to all, whether you work in the job or not and evidence can be brought in to meet assessment criteria from various sources. The course is really well-structured - there are no exams, each module is supported with wider reading resources and there are clear links to the learning objectives that need to be achieved.
Best Practice offer excellent support through their tutors who deliver interesting sessions and are always willing to offer support, one-to-one mentoring and feedback.
As a result of completing the Level 4 Diploma, I have since left teaching and am now the Head of Professional Development at the Institute of School Business Leaders (ISBL). Although not directly working as an SBM, without this course I would not be working in my current role and helping to further develop the CPD and training needs of professionals across the sector. Whatever your experience or role, I would advise anyone interested in school business management to undertake the Level 4 Diploma
"Best of all for me was the flexibility that the course offered - you can complete each learning objective at your own pace but your work is marked in a timely manner with constructive feedback given at all stages."
Having worked in Education for seven years, five as an HR Officer in a large secondary school followed by three and a half years as a School Business Manager in a Primary school, my employer, The Diocese of Chelmsford Vine Schools Trust, offered to part-fund the L4 DSBM for me so that I could gain a formal acknowledgement of my skills. Having only recently converted from being a maintained school, it was clear that accountability and compliance of formal regulations and standards in the academy sector was monitored extremely closely and that SBMs were expected to work at a higher strategic level than I had previously been used to.
Equally, it was becoming clear that the role of SBMs across the sector was changing and becoming more specialised, especially within Multi Academy Trusts. I felt that it was essential for my own personal development to complete the course, if only to evidence my skills and competence.
I applied to The Best Practice Network through a local Teaching School Alliance and was accepted on their online learning course. I was extremely nervous – it had been a long time since I had ‘studied’ and completed assignments. Our assigned Mentor and Assessor, Val Andrews immediately put us at ease and supported us all throughout the course (which coincided with the Covid lockdowns, learning to work from home and home-schooling!). The course was broken down into modules that we were able to study at our own pace with additional explanations provided through online sessions. The online portal contained all the information required to complete assignments and contained formative and detailed information relative to the subject beings studied. Val was easily contactable and offered informed and knowledgeable advice applicable to both the assignments and how it is applied in practice.
Throughout my study, I continually enhanced my knowledge, using it to assist me during high-level strategic discussions and decision making. I still regularly refer to my assessments to assist me in certain situations.
Having successfully completed the course in March 2021, I was offered the opportunity by the Trust to take on the Financial Responsibility of an additional school that was experiencing financial difficulties. This is where the benefit of this course aided me to review and advise on all areas of school business management, enabling the production of an action plan to improve efficiency, obtaining the best value and assisting in improving pupil outcomes. The reward of seeing this school through this difficult period and seeing it start to thrive is amazing and to date is one of the biggest highlights of my career.
Completing the course has given me confidence in my practice. This supported my decision to apply for a newly introduced Finance Partner role with the Trust’s Central Team. I am now responsible for the financial management of 4 schools. Although a specialist role, it is underpinned by my secure knowledge of school business leadership.
"The completion of the L4 DSBM has been an essential part of my career journey. It has provided me with the knowledge and the confidence to provide solutions to challenges that I have faced in the opportunities offered to me, since gaining the qualification."
How to apply
When submitting their application, applicants must upload a signed Headteacher Declaration form in which they agree to support you through the programme and confirm that the school will finance the cost of the course. It will save time if applicants obtain this prior to starting the online registration process.