My top three courses for smarter SBMs by Cheryl Campbell

I have always liked learning new things, it’s part of who I am. I’m quite reflective and spend quite a bit of time thinking about how I can improve my skills and broaden my knowledge. It’s a good thing too because as a School Business Manager I feel like there’s always something new to learn. CPD is so beneficial in this field and in fact, as a member of ISBL, it’s expected.

When it comes to courses to take there isn’t a one size fits all approach. Firstly, it’s very much driven by the direction you want to go in. Do you want to specialise or do you want to be a generalist? I made the decision a while ago that I wanted to go down the generalist route and the courses I’ve chosen this far reflect that, as they span the many areas relating to School Business Management. For now, I’ll focus on my top three courses that I’ve taken so far (in reverse order):

  1. Postgraduate Diploma in Human Resources Management                                                                        

I did this course some years before I became a School Business Manager and in doing so gained a CIPD qualification. I am currently in a community school and so have a service level agreement with the local authority for HR support. However, my knowledge in this area is a great source of comfort and gives me confidence in dealing with my staff in a range of issues without having to constantly seek advice. It’s not just the employment law type issues that we typically think of as being an HR function but we also covered areas workforce planning, motivation, job satisfaction and much more.

  1. Level 4 Diploma in School Business Management

As an aspiring Business Manager working in the Local Authority and not in a school, the content of this course was invaluable in giving me a realistic picture of how far reaching the role can be. The course covered subject areas such as HR in schools, Finance, Leading Support Services and Procurement. I was fortunate enough to be a governor in a school that was willing to support me through the course and allow me access to policies and procedures. The course gave me a unique insight into the world of School Business Management and confirmed my decision that a career change was the way to go. I would highly recommend this course to anyone new to the profession and wanting to build a solid foundation of understanding.

  1. Management of Health and Safety in Education

This has been my favourite course so far, mainly because the entire curriculum was new to me. The course I took was certified by the Institute of Safety and Health (IOSH) and took place over an intensive two days with written tests at the end. Health and Safety is such an important part of the SBM role, not least because of the legal implications of not getting it right. For me this was the driving factor in getting myself adequately trained up to manage this area of my role effectively and efficiently. Although there were some follow up courses that I took (Asbestos Awareness and Managing Legionella risks), this course covered the basics that I need to know. Over the two days I learnt about relevant legislation, carrying out risk assessments, reporting and investigation of accidents and much more. This course is in pole position for me because I found it the most interesting and I use the knowledge I gained on a daily basis.

And, while I do love a nicely presented certificate, the key factor for me in choosing my formal CPD is whether I will be able to translate what I’m learning into practical daily situations. This is certainly the case for my top three courses for SBMs.

Do let me know which of the courses you have attended and which would make your top three by tweeting me at @CherylSBM.

Other articles by Cheryl Campbell that you might be interested in:


This article forms part of our Smarter SBM series, which supports the launch of our new Smart Ordering tools. Informed by, and created for SBMs, Smart Ordering is a range of great online features and tools that can transform a school’s office with a smarter way of purchasing. It has been developed by the team at GLS Educational Supplies to help save schools money, by making the process of buying school supplies faster, smoother and more affordable. Find out more about how Smart Ordering can save your school time and money here.