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School business managers and bursars – pay and conditions FAQs (March 2014)

Download the FAQ document here, or select specific questions below.

  1. I know of other SBMs/bursars who have the school teachers’ pay and conditions document (STPCD) incorporated into their contracts and are paid as an assistant head teacher. Is this lawful?
  2. Who is the employer of SBMs/bursars in maintained schools?
  3. I work in an academy/free school/independent school – who is the employer?
  4. Is there a national pay scale for support staff pay?
  5. I work in a foundation/VA/foundation special school – does the governing body (GB) therefore determine my pay level?
  6. I work in a community/VC/community special/maintained nursery school. Does the LA determine my pay?
  7. My school is LA maintained. My head teacher and GB believe my grade/pay is insufficient in relation to the significant extra responsibilities of my post; indeed, I am part of the school’s senior management team and have significant input into the day-to-day running of the school. Although you have indicated that I cannot be paid under STPCD, can they look for a grade/remuneration that is equivalent?
  8. I believe my pay/grading is inappropriate; however, there is no support for change from either my head or GB. What can I do?
  9. I am looking for information on my conditions of service – where do I go?
  10. My SBM/bursar job has changed considerably and I am, first of all, looking to re-write my job description. Can you offer me any assistance?
  11. I am a SBM/bursar currently working in a maintained school which will convert to an academy in the near future. What happens to my contract?
  12. I belong to the local government pension scheme (LGPS). Where can I find more information?
  13. I need further assistance with my pay and conditions – who should I contact?




1.         I know of other SBMs/bursars who have the school teachers’ pay and conditions document (STPCD) incorporated into their contracts and are paid as an assistant head teacher. Is this lawful?

No, not unless the SBM or bursar is a qualified teacher and undertakes the ‘professional responsibilities’ of deputy/assistant heads (paragraph 49 of s.2, STPCD 2013). The STPCD 2013 requires both deputy and assistant head teachers to be qualified teachers.

NAHT members should, however, note that the NAHT believes that SBMs play a pivotal role in school life, undertaking significant and weighty roles. As a result of their important strategic role, which is central to a school’s success, NAHT believes that every school should have access to an SBM. NAHT’s policy team is currently very active in campaigning for a professional framework, and ultimately, a pay framework for SBMs.

Although the School Teacher Review Body [ 1] does not have the powers to determine SBM pay, it did recognise the importance of SBMs within schools and highlighted this message to DfE, other consultees and the wider community. In its 23rd Report (2014), it stated:

“Business managers also play an important role in the senior leadership of many schools, bringing operational, finance or HR expertise (either personally or as part of their team). However, such roles are outwith our remit and we simply note that governing bodies will need to consider them as part of the senior staffing structure.” [paragraph 2.16, page 8].

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2.         Who is the employer of SBMs/bursars in maintained schools?

In the case of community, voluntary controlled, community special and maintained nursery schools, the employer is the LA.

In the case of foundation, voluntary aided and foundation special schools, the governing body is the employer.

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3.         I work in an academy/free school/independent school – who is the employer?

The academy/school is the employer, or normally the trust or board of governors. Refer to your contract of employment. A contract of employment will set out your terms and conditions. Those express terms of a written contract will normally be enforced by any court or tribunal. It is therefore imperative to make sure that you agree terms and conditions of employment before accepting an offer of a post. Further advice can be sought from the specialist advice team – see the end of these FAQs for contact details.

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4.         Is there a national pay scale for support staff pay?

There is no national pay scale for support staff, including SBMs and bursars; pay is determined locally.

The following regulations deal with pay of support staff on appointment:

School staffing (England) regulations 2009

The staffing of maintained schools (Wales) regulations 2006 ['the regulations']

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5.         I work in a foundation/VA/foundation special school – does the governing body (GB) therefore determine my pay level?

Yes. The GB may however have an agreement with the LA that they will make any appointments and that the GB will use the LA’s pay grading system when determining the pay of support staff.

See regulation 27 (England and Wales) of the regulations.

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6.         I work in a community/VC/community special/maintained nursery school. Does the LA determine my pay?

Effectively, yes.

You will see from the regulations that, on appointment, the GB must provide the LA with the name of any person it recommends and a job specification, which must include the GB’s recommendation as to the duties to be performed, hours of work, duration of appointment, the grade and the remuneration. NB: The grade must be on the scale of grades applicable in relation to employment with the LA and such as the GB considers appropriate. Although the GB is required to consider any pay and grading issues, the LA may raise with the GB, in writing, within 7 days of receipt of the job specification, the regulations state that the GB can decide not to change its recommendation on the grade and associated remuneration to be paid. If it decides on this course of action, the GB must write to the LA giving its reasons.

The GB, therefore, has limited powers in relation to pay/grading on appointment only. SBM/bursar members should bear in mind that the LA, as employer, will in most cases determine pay and grading.

The LA will be mindful of equal pay issues since it is possible for different employees across the LA to make a comparison in an equal pay claim, ie their work is of ‘equal value’ when compared to other employees doing what, at first glance, may seem like a different role. For example, it may be possible for a midday supervisor to compare themselves to a refuse collector. Therefore, other LA employees may be able to compare their work to that of SBMs and bursars. The LA will be cautious in relation to possible equal pay claims since some LAs have lost such cases in the courts and significant compensation has been awarded against them.

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7.         My school is LA maintained. My head teacher and GB believe my grade/pay is insufficient in relation to the significant extra responsibilities of my post; indeed, I am part of the school’s senior management team and have significant input into the day-to-day running of the school. Although you have indicated that I cannot be paid under STPCD, can they look for a grade/remuneration that is equivalent?

It would certainly be in all your interests to look closely at the generic job profiles associated with the relevant gradings. Your head and GB should then ensure that your job description is up-to-date and relevant. The importance of a well-written job description cannot be over-estimated since it will be used in the evaluation process. [See FAQ 10 for assistance.]  

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8.         I believe my pay/grading is inappropriate; however, there is no support for change from either my head or GB. What can I do?

It is clear from seminars and telephone calls received by the SA team that head teachers with SBMs and bursars believe that they are “worth their weight in gold” because they relieve the head teacher of significant workload and thereby allow the head to concentrate on their core role of leading on teaching and learning. However, occasionally there are cases where there is no support from the head and GB. Undoubtedly, in these circumstances, it is going to be difficult to secure a change to your grade/pay. However, you may wish to take the following steps.

First, you would wish to ensure that your job description fully reflects the responsibilities of your post. Again, it would be sensible to look closely and carefully at the relevant generic job profiles in your LA pay/grading system. You may also wish to seek advice from your LA/HR provider if you believe your role is graded wrongly. If they agree with you, they will be keen to ensure your role is reviewed.

If there is no appetite from any quarter to review your role and pay, and as a consequence you feel under-valued in your present school, it may be worth looking for another post where you will be valued and paid appropriately. Undoubtedly most heads and governing bodies are appreciative of the valuable support given to the school by the SBM/bursar.

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9.         I am looking for information on my conditions of service – where do I go?

The first port of call is your contract which should detail fundamental terms and conditions. You may also wish to access the LA’s intranet (LA maintained schools) which may detail further conditions generally applicable to support staff in your local area, as agreed within the local negotiating forum. In addition, you may wish to access the Green Book (www.lge.gov.uk) which may further assist you.

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10.       My SBM/bursar job has changed considerably and I am, first of all, looking to re-write my job description. Can you offer me any assistance?

Although model job descriptions can be of limited value, since every post will be different, there are some very useful job profiles at the following links which hopefully should be a good starting point for you:

www.education.gov.uk/publications/eOrderingDownload/looking_for_bursar.pdf - this was originally written by the Training and Development Agency for Schools (now defunct) but is available from the DfE’s web site and contains a bursar job profile and functions, starting on page 6.

www.cfbt-sites.com/Lincolnshire/pdf/benefits_of_sbms.pdf - this was a document (Discover the benefits of school business managers) originally issued by the Teaching Development Agency (now defunct). The job profile starts on page 21.

www.nasbm.co.uk/documents/2189SBM%20Job%20Description.pdf – obviously NASBM (National Association of School Business Management) offers useful advice and guidance on all aspects of being a school business manager. NAHT and NASBM work together closely.

www.nationalcollege.org.uk/docinfo?id=23792&filename=school-business-management-competency-framework.pdf – although not a job description, this document is a competency framework and should prove useful to you. The National College of Teaching and Leadership also has material in relation to school administration and management. A search of their web site will produce many useful documents, both for head teachers looking to employ a SBM and for SBMs looking for training and career development. 

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11.       I am a SBM/bursar currently working in a maintained school which will convert to an academy in the near future. What happens to my contract?

Where there is a relevant transfer, you will have the protection of the Transfer of Undertaking (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE). Your contract will transfer to the new employer. It will not be easy for the new employer to worsen your terms and conditions if you have the protection of TUPE. However, moving to academy status can sometimes work to your advantage, in that the new employer may decide to pay you more for the same job. Further information on academies and TUPE is contained within our academies toolkit available at www.naht.org.uk

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12.       I belong to the local government pension scheme (LGPS). Where can I find more information?

The LGPS has its own dedicated website at www.lgps.gov.uk. From that website, you should also find contact details for the LGPS pensions administration team in your area. They should also be able to give you advice on your accrued benefits and answer questions. If you have a specific issue and need assistance from NAHT, you should contact the specialist advice team (details below). 

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13.       I need further assistance with my pay and conditions – who should I contact?

In the first instance, you should make contact with the specialist advice team; telephone 0300 30 30 333; email: specialistadvice@naht.org.uk.



[1] The School Teacher Review Body is the independent body which looks at teachers’ (including the leadership group) pay and conditions and makes recommendations to the secretary of state, if accepted by the secretary of state, incorporated into the next STPCD.

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