HR and the SBM by Cheryl Campbell

Ask any SBM what the gist of their role is and the answer will be something along the lines of putting efficiencies in place to ensure funding is used in the most effective way to provide high quality education for the pupils of the school. Or something like that, anyway.

This sounds a lot like it’s about balancing the books, pinching the pennies, generating income etc; so you’d be forgiven for wondering where human resource management fits into this. There are many reasons why HRM is hugely important but here are the top three ways that I think I use HR to add value in my role.



A good induction process sets the tone for the culture of the working environment. Too often induction is forgotten as part of the recruitment process but it’s such a key aspect. It’s the difference between being left to find your own feet and wander around aimlessly for the first week or so, or having a structured process whereby you are introduced to key members of staff, given key policies and really made to feel welcome. That immediate sense of belonging makes all the difference and impacts on staff turnover (or so my exit interviews tell me anyway). If people feel they belong they are far less likely to leave your school.


Absence Management

It is imperative, not only to have robust absence management policies in place, but also that they are implemented consistently and in full for every employee. It may seem like a nuisance to contact an employee who has not followed the reporting procedures but you need to be clear of the details of the absence (as well as having a duty of care to make sure they are actually ok). It may feel uncomfortable to keep requesting medical certificates from an employee who is on long term absence (and you know is seriously ill). While you want to support your colleagues on a human level, the policy exists to protect the school.

It would be difficult to make a case that your TA who has been signed off for seven months is not fit to carry out the role if within those seven months you have held no review meetings, not made any referrals to Occupational Health to get an independent opinion and not received medical certificates to confirm that the time off is actually due to illness. How beneficial would it be to the school to only start gathering this evidence after seven months of absence? Not beneficial at all. The time wasted in a scenario like that would mean you continue to pay the absent colleague while most likely also paying for cover.



Coming from a payroll background is so beneficial to me in my role. I have done payroll for a construction company, a charity and a Local Authority, so have a pretty good understanding of how it works and how to resolve queries. When staff come to me with queries I can answer them on the spot rather than having to redirect them to a payroll provider, or ask them to come back once I have an answer for them myself. My experience is that if staff have confidence that their pay will be right, they are happy bunnies. It also means that I quickly spot any anomalies and have usually addressed any issues before the employee has to start worrying about it.

In a recent Twitter poll I ran, I found that very few SBMs come to the profession via a HR route. In fact, of the 161 respondents only 7 said they came from an HR background. Given that it’s one of the Professional Standards I’m still quite surprised by this. While it’s not a typical route into the profession it most definitely provides useful skills and knowledge when in the role. More in-house HR skills means less expenditure on buying in the expertise. That’s a win-win in my book.