Becoming a school administrator

Other relevant job titles: Receptionist, office manager, secretary and PA.

The school administrator is the gate keeper to the head and to the whole school community. If you are organised, sociable and thrive on busy schedules where no two days are the same, this role could be for you. Don’t apply if you are sensitive and like to be given credit for your work – the school admin is often the unsung heroine of the school.

Salary

Typically between £17,000 and £22,000.

School administrator duties  

This depends on whether it’s a small primary school where the admin and support is usually a one-person band, or a large, maintained school where duties will be divvied up between a team. But expect the role to cover the following:

  • Dealing with enquires from staff, parents and pupils
  • Taking dinner, school trip and fund money
  • Handling phone calls, emails, letters
  • Data entry
  • Photocopying
  • Filing
  • Keeping financial records

Hours

Usually a seven hour working day or 35 hours a week. Check the contract for official hours but beware – this may be nothing like the reality. School admins are, like teachers, expected to get the job done and put in extra time to get through stuff. Schools can dictate hours and some heads like their admin in early – as early as 7.30am.  Ask for clarification of expected start and end times including  any overtime payments and/or flexi-hours or extra holiday in lieu.

Skills and knowledge

  • Proficient in the use of the school’s management information (MIS) system. This is predominantly Capita’s SIMS system.
  • Good IT skills including Excel, Word, PowerPoint
  • Ability to deal professionally and sympathetically with everyone who walks through the door
  • Ability to prioritise
  • Unflappable. When all around your are losing their heads, you need to keep cool.
  • Discreet. You will be dealing with a mass of confidential information and it must remain that way.
  • Ability to manage upwards, subtly telling people how it will be, rather than what would they like.

The upsides

The role is varied so you’re unlikely to get bored.

The downsides

Some school admins talk of ‘endless interruptions’ with teachers popping in with never-ending ‘can you just’ requests and urgent last minute jobs.

Best route in

Best way in is through temping. Find out which agencies schools in your area use and go and visit them in person

  • Ex-teachers sometimes work in university and school admin. It’s a good fit. Who better to support a team of teachers than an ex-teacher?
  • Administrators from other industry sectors can move into schools but will need to demonstrate some interest in how schools work, such as being a school governor.