Apprenticeships for SBLs – good or bad?

Earlier today, NASBM issued an update concerning the status of apprenticeships for school business professionals (SBP)

The text of that update is produced below. I hope you will take the time to read it. At first glance it might seem a little dry but it contains some important points.

On the plus side, there will be apprenticeship routes which allow schools to claw back levy funding to support the further training and development of the SBM workforce including routes which go right up to Level 7. These allow aspirant school business leaders and their schools to draw down significant amounts of funding and claw back the apprenticeship tax, sorry, levy.

On the downside, the IFA’s insistence on using existing, potentially generic, apprenticeships risks watering down the level of knowledge imparted to practitioners as they train. I hope that practitioners and their employing schools/MATs will heed NASBM’s advice to look closely at how much of the HEI’s degree content is school/education specific.

However it is not all doom and gloom. NASBM’s work with providers aims to ensure there will be robust, content/context-rich degrees delivered inside the apprenticeship ‘wrapper’.

I am heartened by the commitment of HEIs such as Chester to ensuring that their degree offer, twinned with the employer-based training the apprenticeship mandates will lead to strong, skilled practitioners.

(Strong and skilled, committed and confident – think I might have been watching too much coverage of the Conservative Party Conference!)

NABSM’s statement about apprenticeships and qualifications:

Apprenticeships and the Levy

The new apprenticeship programme offers school business professionals an exciting opportunity to progress their career using the Apprenticeship Levy. There are a variety of options available and these include:

  • Level 3 Business Administrator – available now
  • Level 4 School Business Professional – due to be available in early 2018
  • Level 6 Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship (CMDA) – available now
  • Level 7 Senior Leadership – due to be available in 2018

This communication is to provide you with an update about the work that NASBM has been doing to ensure that the profession has the best possible opportunities to develop practitioners’ knowledge, skills and behaviours.

For more information about the Levy and how to access funding from it: Apprenticeship Levy

NASBM’s work on apprenticeships

Over the last year, NASBM has been working and supporting the development of two Trailblazer project groups whose aim has been to develop specific apprenticeships for school business professionals at Level 4 and Level 6, which are underpinned by NASBM Professional Standards. The purpose of this is to ensure that schools across the country can access appropriate training for their school business professionals, which can be funded through the Apprenticeship Levy, introduced from April 2017.

NASBM leads a national Qualifications Board, which has supported NASBM’s work on apprenticeship. This Board is made up of school representatives, training providers, ILM, researchers, the Association of School & College Leaders (ASCL), NAHT, Unison and the DfE.

The Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA) has directed that it wishes to streamline the number of apprenticeships available, and, where possible, it wants existing apprenticeships to be utilised rather than specific new ones be developed. This is true for all career routes.

Level 4 apprenticeship

The IfA has confirmed that the Level 4 apprenticeship Standard has been approved with conditions. This new apprenticeship will be for practitioners working in school business administrative management roles, and it is expected to be available in Spring 2018. It is expected that those professionals who undertake this apprenticeship route will supervise a team, processes or project, with responsibilities for individuals or for a team discharging a task or functions.

Level 6 apprenticeship (degree level)

It has been proposed by the IfA that existing and potential School Business Directors should follow the route of the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship (CMDA). This is a Level 6 degree apprenticeship which is already successfully offered by Higher Educational Institutes (HEIs) throughout the country and is suitable for all those working at a managerial and strategic level. Importantly, the degree element allows the CMDA to be contextually specific to the SBD role.

Having undertaken a full review of the CMDA standard and assessment plan, NASBM is confident that the CMDA can be suitable for those working in schools. The NASBM Qualifications Board will encourage school  business professionals to carefully select an HEI offering a degree which takes school context into account. There will not be a separate School Business Director apprenticeship. Therefore, the schools must use this CMDA Level 6 apprenticeship route to secure the funding for school-specific degree programmes.

NASBM has been working closely with several HEIs to develop degrees which are suitable for School Business Directors. These Level 6 degrees can be undertaken as part of the existing CMDA. They will map to the NASBM professional standards and cover all the essential elements of school business management and leadership.

  • The University of Chester is now offering one such degree, a BA in School Business Leadership and Management. For further information about the programme, contact Dr Steve Lambert –
  • The SBM Partnership will be offering the CMDA for senior school business professionals beginning in the spring term 2018. Contact –
  • NASBM will advise of other HEI providers offering the CMDA with an educational context, as they emerge.

Level 7 apprenticeship

NASBM is also speaking to the employer group of a new Level 7 apprenticeship for Senior Leadership, which has been approved with conditions. This will be suitable for all those working at an executive level, including Chief Operating Officers (COO), Chief Finance Officers (CFO) and Chief Executives.

Who can do apprenticeships?

It is envisaged that these apprenticeships will be undertaken by practitioners already working in schools, as well as professionals moving into the sector from industry. The Level 4 apprenticeship will also provide an entry level into the profession. Apprentices will have a desire to increase and improve their knowledge, skills and behaviour so that they can carry out the role in an efficient and effective way.

School Business Qualifications

As well as apprenticeships, school business professionals can undertake a range of qualifications, which have been developed by ILM and NASBM and are underpinned with the NASBM Professional Standards.

Currently, these are offered at Levels 4–6, and new revised Level 4 and Level 5 will be available in Spring 2018.

The professional qualifications are available through several training organisations. These providers work with ILM, ensuring a consistently high quality and delivery across the county. Qualified practitioners are in a better position to improve resource management within schools, academies, federations and MATs and so improve education. Career Developement/Qualification Pathway

Next steps

For more information contact –

NASBM website –

Apprenticeships on website –