Rethinking school business management

Chaired by Matthew Clements-Wheeler

The education sector is undergoing rapid change and is faced with complex challenges; those tasked with leading – and managing – schools through this complex and turbulent time have their work cut out for them.

More autonomy, increased responsibility, higher demand, greater expectations, changing support mechanisms, decreasing funding, spiralling on-costs and centralisation by growing MATs; effective school business management for the future may require us to rethink current approaches and develop models and frameworks more suited to evolving operational structures.

This panel discussion – chaired by Matthew Clements-Wheeler – seeks to unpick the current educational landscape and explore future possibilities by rethinking school business management.

Take-home points:
The panel will focus on:
  • analysing the current educational landscape – changes and challenges;
  • rethinking core aspects of school business management based on this analysis;
  • embracing business-like attitudes to achieve school effectiveness;
  • unearthing opportunity in unexpected places;
  • overcoming barriers to collaboration;
  • providing a strategic discussion framework for management development within schools.
This is a radically different brainstorming session and we want your input!
To ensure that you get the most out of the panel discussion we’re asking you to submit your burning questions, in advance, to Marie by email.

Your questions will be asked anonymously, so don't be afraid to ask the tough – but important – ones! (Further questions can be submitted on the day as the discussion evolves.)

The Big Debate: who’s who

Matthew Clements-Wheeler business manager and deputy head at Bordesley Green Girls’ School, will lead the panel. Matthew is a fellow and trustee of the Institution of School Business Leadership (ISBL) and an active member of the SBL community, has spoken at a number of events, has hosted an SBM roundtable and is an avid writer – commening on the sector and sharing his insights with others.

Stephen Mitchell Stephen is the chief operating officer at The Mowbray Education Trust. He has a strong business leadership background, is a qualified accountant, has delivered award winning capacity building projects around the world for the UN, EU and World Bank. He has also recently finished his Masters of Business Administration, with a thesis focussing on raising the quality of management in education. Stephen is keen to break the mould and tear down the ‘boring’ accountant stereotype and is also keen to share his experience and knowledge with others in the sector. He has written for ISBL, of which he is a Fellow, and also runs a regular series, the Really Important Bits, in EdExec , which explores what is covered in an MBA. You can find further writing and resources at

Louise Hatswell is a practising SBM who, fortunately, likes to be kept busy. At present she works as a director of finance (dividing her time between three very supportive schools – Saint Pius X Catholic High School, Rawmarsh St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School and Our Lady & St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School), a trustee and a Fellow of the NASBM and she still found the time to establish and now lead the South Yorkshire School Business Leaders Group (SYSBL). She has extensive experience in school business management and continues to build on this and apply it to the benefit of the schools she works in and her colleagues she works with.

Emma Gray is business manager and finance director at the Cotswold Beacon Academy Trust – a thriving partnership of schools working together to generate and celebrate success and to create opportunities for students. Emma has been in the sector since 2002 and has seen the sector change dramatically and the role of the SBL go from strength to strength. The experience and insight that she has gained along the way she applies to her role in dynamic ways, but she is also a great support to others in the sector and is an active member of the SBL community.

Steve Gasser is the executive director of professional development at ISBL. During his career Steven has led on business engagement, managing key accounts, member recruitment and retention. Steven has moved from the manufacturing sector, to the metal finishing industry before joining IMechE in 2001 as a business development manager (BDM), then senior BDM. In 2012 he joined the MTC, where he developed a community of highly-skilled, competent and motivated employees, before moving to the nuclear industry with responsibility for technical and operational training. Steven plans to use the skills developed over his career to benefit school business professionals in creating a fit-for-purpose qualifications framework and clear guidance on career pathways.