Bringing business to education

Why are SBPs so often left out of the conversation when it comes to leadership? Why should they be overlooked, when they hold so much responsibility? There are many reasons why this shouldn’t be the case – Rob Owens, COO of Rainhill High School, has highlighted some of the most important ones

With the evolution of academies and, more recently, multi-academy trusts, there has never been a more important time to reflect upon the significant positive difference a suitably qualified and experienced business professional can make to a school. We have CEOs who run hospital trusts in order to allow medical directors to focus on the core business of offering quality care, and police and crime commissioners who oversee police forces to allow the chief constable to concentrate on delivering effective policing within communities; in what other sector would a multi-million pound business, with a large workforce, have little-or-no input from a business professional at the very highest level?

Alas, in education, it is all too common for the school business professional to be left out of the senior leadership team and, instead, hold a middle management ranking with limited influence. This may have a negligible effect where a school has the expertise of a local authority to call on; however, for an academy this is, at best, underutilisation of a valuable asset and, at worst, a recipe for disaster.

From personal experience, as a business generalist from a private sector background, I am able to offer insight and support in relation to many areas of school life such as finance, procurement, HR, legal, health and safety and marketing. My support staff team are the foundation on which a quality education is built; without them, delivering the core function of education would not be possible. It is my skills and experience that have allowed me to:

  • generate innovate income streams;
  • efficiently cut expenditure (without negatively impacting the students and while maintaining staff morale);
  • forge meaningful partnerships with private sector organisations which have offered our students insights into a range of industries, provided job placements and funding amongst other opportunities for the school.

In a world where we are facing a real-terms cut in funding, a skilled, experienced and passionate school business professional can find opportunities that an educationalist would not.

Utilising an effective and influential school business professional can help achieve the aim of supporting pupils to become mature, happy, well-rounded individuals of sound character, who are ready to embark on their chosen career. School business professionals are not teachers, but we do care about education and can positively influence it. We have chosen to work in the sector because we care passionately about the students and the school and are driven to ensure that pupils receive the best possible holistic education.

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