My SBM Life by Nemi Fisher

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

Bursar at Clapham and Patching C of E Primary School

How long have you been an SBM?

Since February 2011

What was your path to SBM?

I fell in to the role – my background is customer services, mostly within the airline industry. I started in my school as a school office administrator but very quickly, within a few months it evolved to the bursar role.

How would you describe the role of an SBM?

In a small school such as mine, extremely varied, you have to be prepared to turn your hand to other tasks that may not be part of your role.

What are the 5 top key elements of your role?

Human resources, IT, finance, premises management, office and school day management.

What characteristics do you believe make for a Smart SBM?

Someone who is organised, conscientious, good communicator, picking up on conversations between others which involve spending!

Why do schools need an SBM?

SBM’s concentrate on ensuring that the school can function financially.

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

No, it is an every growing one.

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

My personal top tip is to stop skim reading. I can miss information, which causes more work for me in the long run.

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

Definitely shop around and then be prepared to haggle, they want your business too and might be willing to offer a better price.

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

The time it takes to explore and get 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 can sometimes feel very alone in my small school, support is out there and I shouldn’t be worried or feel silly about asking for it.

Tell us about an hour of your day today

Dropping children at another school, then preparing a teacher advert together with the headteacher ready for publication, continuing work on our 3-year budget plan.

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

Hearing that the LA are not looking to close small schools, however, in reality I do wonder how we will survive.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a SBM?

Knowing that my role plays an important part in the functioning of the school and seeing the children grow in their confidence and knowledge.

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

I am currently working on an SBP apprenticeship and I feel this describes my varied role in a better way.

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

An extremely important one, we hold all the knowledge regarding the financial situation and are the best ones to advise the SLT.

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

Again, an extremely important one, in my school it is the headteacher and then me, we do not have a deputy head.

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

Communication is vital, the head may not always want to hear what you have to say regarding financial issues if it doesn’t fit in with their plans but it is important that you get your point across.

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

The role can take over your life if you let it, there are never enough hours in the day. Don’t feel guilty about taking a lunch break or not taking work home with you.

How do you handle a bad day at the office?

Chocolate usually does the trick.

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

I tend to go out for a long walk listening to music, I enjoy being out in the fresh air.