My SBM Life by Andy Heron

What’s your job title and the name of your school?

School Business Manager at The Maelor School, Wrexham


How long have you been an SBM?

Since October 2011


What was your path to SBM?

I was in the RAF for 23 years and then got a job in a school as a senior administrator, became a finance manager in 2007 and then a SBM in October 2011.


How would you describe the role of an SBM?

A very varied role, multi-disciplined and one where you are constantly dealing with many different aspects of school business all at the same time.  No 2 days are ever the same.


What are the 5 top key elements of your role?

Budgets & Finance, HR, Estate & Facilities management, Procurement and Health and Safety.


What characteristics do you believe make for a Smart SBM?

Someone who is conscientious, resolute, determined, resilient and has a sense of humour!


Why do schools need an SBM?

Ultimately to lead in providing the very best support element to the school and to allow other senior leaders to concentrate on teaching and learning.


Have you ever reached the bottom of your to-do list?

Point me in the direction of a SBM who has.


What’s your top tip for saving time at work?

Planning and preparation helps a lot.


What’s your top tip for saving your school money?

Be ruthless in exploring every avenue to achieve a reduction in costs.   If you don’t ask, you will never know.


What’s your biggest pain point when it comes to procurement?

Often the legwork to get all the information together about a certain buying area can be a toil.


Most SBMs we meet say that networking is a key to the role – what’s the most valuable thing you’ve learnt from one of your SBM peers?

Never be afraid to ask for help.   Often an issue you think is difficult to overcome has been encountered by someone else, that can help.


Tell us about an hour of your day today

The 1st hour is a mix of checking with the Head and Deputy that all is well and react accordingly, speak to the caretaker to check on site safety, check all the school buses are operational.  Listen to telephone messages and check staff absence for the day.  Respond to any urgent emails – make the first office cup of tea – and then look at the list of things planned for the day.


What’s the last thing, professionally, that surprised you?

The way in which the “schools have never been so well funded” is still being used as the opening line about properly financing schools.


What is the most rewarding aspect of being a SBM?

For me, the knowledge that the school is continually achieving to be the best it can and that by my small part the success is underpinned by solid foundations.


SBM, SBP or SBL – where do you stand on the title?

I really like SBP.  It encompasses the many differing job titles better.


How do you see the role of SBM within the SLT?

Vital, how is it possible to lead a school without the knowledge of the SBP.  The SBP role will have an impact in every school process to some degree.


How important do you think the head teacher / SBM relationship is?

Cannot be over emphasised the importance of this two-way relationship. 


What do you think is the key to a good head teacher / SBM relationship?

Being able to have a conversation about anything school related with the opportunity to get over your views and be listened to.   Honesty and trust are paramount.


What advice would you give to someone new coming into an SBM role?

Look for people already in the role to shadow and understand what is required.   Look at courses that will help such as the SBP Apprentice or ISBL qualifications (Level 4 -6 CSBM, DSBM and ADSBM).   As a new SBM, join the ISBL and your local SBM group, get on to Twitter for views and advice.


How do you handle a bad day at the office?

I commute about 50 mins to work, so driving home is usually time enough to reflect on the day’s happenings and to de-stress.   I tend not to worry too much because you can always put right what has gone wrong and the next day is always going to come soon enough.


What do you do to de-stress after a long day at school?

I like to walk the dog or cycling is my new-found release.  No agenda with either, as the dog is always happy to be walked and cycling can focus the mind and body on something completely different to work.