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School Business Leaders deserve a better deal, says NAHT

Today (Monday 18 June) NAHT publishes the results of its third survey of school business leaders’ pay and responsibilities, showing that while SBLs’ workload and responsibilities have increased over the last 6 years, their pay and status is still well below that of the rest of the leadership team.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “School business leaders are right at the centre of the increasing financial pressure on schools. The government has tasked schools with massively cutting costs and it is SBLs who are required to balance the books. But while SBLs are having sleepless nights over getting the best deal for their schools, they are not receiving the best deal for themselves. This survey shows that SBLs’ workload and working hours have increased dramatically in recent years, but salaries and access to training have not kept pace.”

NAHT’s 'Getting the Best Deal?' survey was carried out between April and May 2018, and 439 SBLs responded. The key findings are that:

·         Three fifths of respondents do not think their pay fairly reflects their role and the responsibilities they undertake

·         The average salary for an SBL is £40,000 a year, up 9% from our 2016 survey but substantially below that of the rest of a typical leadership team

·         Less than half (46%) of respondents  have had their pay reviewed in the last 3 years

·         More than three fifths (61%) work more than 45 hours per week, and almost two thirds (63%) said that their working hours have increased over the past 3 years

·         The majority (81%) said that their workload has increased over the last year

·         Almost half (49%) said they have not received any formal personal development in the last year, even though 70% are keen to undertake further formal qualifications to keep up with the demands of the role

·         The main barriers to accessing CPD were time (68%) and funding (61%)

Paul Whiteman continued: “Pay and status for SBLs have to increase if we are to attract and retain high quality individuals to the profession. SBLs perform a central leadership role  and should be paid on a scale equivalent  to other school leaders. With school budgets at breaking point, an SBL’s job has never been more difficult or more vital. They are being stretched ever more thinly, with unsustainable workloads. More support and access to training is urgently needed so that these unsung heroes of school finances can keep up with the ever-increasing and increasingly complex demands of their role.”

This week, school business leaders gather in Birmingham for NAHT’s SBL Conference 2018, where they will hear from the director of the Department for Education’s education funding group, Tony Foot, as well as from Stephen Morales, chief executive of NAHT’s partner organisation, the Institute of School Business Leadership (ISBL).

Commenting on the findings, Stephen Morales said, “It is imperative that school business, pedagogy and governance work seamlessly together and that there is mutual professional respect and recognition. Effective schools have been shown to have a joined-up approach to leadership, where school business professionals and pedagogical leaders operate with parity based on levels of accountability and responsibility.

“We welcome NAHT’s survey findings and hope that they help shine a spotlight on the essential part school business professionals play in the success of our school system.”

Rachel Younger, Business Manager at St Nicholas C of E Primary School in Blackpool, said: “It is encouraging to see that there has been some progress over the last 2 years in terms of average salary, but there is still a way to go before SBLs have pay parity with other school leaders.

“It is very worrying to see the trend in increased workload and the amount of unpaid overtime that SBLs are having to do in order to try and keep up with this workload. Essentially, I believe this comes down to lack of funding: if schools had sufficient funding, they could afford additional staff to take up some of that administrative burden so that SBLs could focus their skills and expertise more on strategic matters.

“This workload will inevitably lead to increased levels of stress within the SBL profession and, as the demands upon us become increasingly unachievable, schools may have problems recruiting new staff to these roles in the future. We don't want to end up with the same recruitment crisis for SBLs as we have for teachers.”

Press and Media contacts:

Steven George
NAHT Head of Press and Media
01444 472886
07970 907730

Rose Tremlett 
Senior Press Officer 
07545 354363

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