My SBM Life by Cheryl Campbell

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

School Business Manager, Falconbrook Primary School.


How long have you been an SBM?

Since December 2015.


What was your path to SBM?

Started off in payroll, moved on to the Education/Children’s Services department in the LA, then took the step to become an SBM three years ago. My degree is in HRM and Law, then I got CIPD qualified via a Postgraduate Diploma in HRM. I studied for the CSBM to help me to make the career move.


How would you describe the role of an SBM?

Hugely important. It’s a wide ranging varied role where truly no two days are the same. There is an expectation that you will just know everything.


What are the 5 top key elements of your role?

Finance, HR, Health & Safety, IT and Procurement.


What characteristics do you believe make for a Smart SBM?

Being reflective about practice, willing to continuously develop and learn and embracing collaboration. You need to be conscientious and extremely resilient.


Why do schools need an SBM?

To ensure the school is running as efficiently as possible and therefore make the best use of funding while generating income. An SBM frees up other school leaders to concentrate on the teaching and learning.


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

No, that’s an impossible task.


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

Stop trying to do everything at once – it’s impossible and in the long run it wastes more time because things don’t get done properly. Don’t be afraid to shut the door and concentrate (just not every day) and most importantly use effective delegation.


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

Engage all the staff so they understand the journey you’re on. If staff understand the money saving tips they’ll be more likely to engage e.g. turning lights off, printing in black and white, sourcing free trips – the list goes on. No-one can do it all alone.

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

The variation between boroughs on the threshold for obtaining 3 quotes.


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?

I’m a keen user of SBM Twitter and the list of things I’ve learned from other SBMs is a long one. I would say the most valuable advice I was given was to have confidence in my abilities and believe in my role on the SLT.


Tell us about an hour of your day today.

Programming an entry fob and issuing a locker key for a new teacher, taking late children up to their classroom, checking emails, working on budget plan for next year.


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

Being asked to contribute to The School Business Manager’s Handbook written by Hayley Dunn.


What is the most rewarding aspect of being a SBM?

Seeing your plans come to fruition.


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

I tend to stick with SBM but I think all are equally valid.


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

Key. I could not imagine not being on the SLT as SBM input is vital in key decision making.


How important do you think the headteacher / SBM relationship is?

Extremely important for the smooth and efficient running of the school.


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

Mutual respect and trust.


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

Collaborate, communicate and network. The role can feel very isolated so it’s important to connect with other SBMs.


How do you handle a bad day at the office?

I leave on time, go home to my family and find resolve to start again tomorrow.


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

Talk to my children about their day and watch soaps (I love Emmerdale). If it’s been an extremely long day then I may add chocolate and a G&T.


If you have one, tell us about your blog / book?

I tentatively started my blog in August 2017 – it can be found at It’s mainly about my SBM life with random posts about weight loss or turning 40 thrown in from time to time. Not sure I’d ever get around to writing a book, the blog’s enough for now.