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Exclusive: School business managers 'not getting pay they deserve'

Warning over lack of pay for staff coping with 'school budgets at breaking point'

Paul Whiteman, NAHT, headteacher, school funding, real terms funding cuts, Ofsted

Warning over lack of pay for staff coping with 'school budgets at breaking point'

Business managers who are being forced to cope with “school budgets being at breaking point” are not being fairly paid for their work, a heads union has warned.

A new poll carried out by the NAHT headteachers' union shows that three-fifths of school business leaders do not think their salary reflects the importance of their job.

The NAHT’s general secretary Paul Whiteman said that school business leaders’ work is as important to the running of a school as deputy and assistant heads, and they should be paid at an equivalent level.

However, a poll due to be published next week shows that their salaries are well below this.

Mr Whiteman 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.”

The poll of more than 430 school business managers reveals:

  • Three-fifths of respondents do not think their pay fairly reflects their role and the responsibilities they undertake
  • Less than half (46 per cent) of respondents have had their pay reviewed in the last three years
  • More than three-fifths (61 per cent) work more than 45 hours per week, and almost two-thirds (63 per cent) said that their working hours have increased over the past three years
  • The majority (81 per cent) said that their workload has increased over the last year
  • Almost half (49 per cent) said they have not received any formal personal development in the last year, even though 70 per cent are keen to undertake further formal qualifications to keep up with the demands of the role

The average salary for an SBL is £40,000 a year, up 9 per cent from the NAHT's 2016 survey but substantially below that of the rest of a typical leadership team, the union said.

The NAHT’s survey was carried out between April and May 2018.

Mr Whiteman added: “Pay and status for SBLs have to increase if we are to attract and retain high-quality individuals to the profession. SBLs perform a role as important to the running of a school as deputy and assistant heads, and they should be paid at an equivalent level.

"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.”

He also called for more support and access to training for business managers.

The poll’s findings will be announced at the NAHT’s SBL Conference next week.

The event will also hear from the director of the Department for Education’s education funding group, Tony Foot, and Stephen Morales, chief executive of the Institute of School Business Leaders.

Commenting on the poll’s findings, Mr 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.”

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