School Business Leadership

Ask Anna – What Support is available?

Dear Anna, What support is available for SBMs and SBLs who want to gain leadership experience and secure leadership roles? @WomenEd

Dear @WomenEd,

The first thing you’re going to notice is that I’ve left a word out of your question and that word, originally sitting between ‘for’ and ‘SBMs’, is ‘women’. This is because, while accepting the risk I’m missing your point, I don’t believe that your question, needs a gender specific answer. The question of ‘What leadership experience opportunities are available to an SBM?’ is surely relevant  to everyone, whether you are MFLGBTA or P.

An SBM looking for career progression within the ‘industry’ has a perceived handicap in that they are unlikely to have a teaching qualification or any teaching experience. A Headteacher, as we still insist on the title, needs the respect and trust of the teaching staff and it is difficult to imagine running a school without the support of the businesses biggest resource. But, as Dylan predicted, the times they are a’changing, and I believe, that over the next five years we are going to see SBMs taking some of the top jobs in Multi-Academy Trust structures.

As an SBM of 15 years I’ve always thought that the ‘Teacher’ and the ‘SBM’ are two completely different animals, with different skill sets and, often, different ambitions for their careers. I do, however, believe that if you get two individuals who work well together, complement each other and have a desire to guide the organisation in the same direction with mutual respect, you have got an incredibly formidable core for a high achieving SLT. But, and this is the frustrating bit, as the rest of the SLT are teachers, the SBM can feel intimidated into believing that their contribution is not as valuable, when in reality, to the partner Head, it is the most valuable of all.

Obvious though it might sound, it is up to the Head and the SBM to demonstrate that powerful teamwork leadership dynamic to other senior leaders in the school, enabling them to understand the value of, and encourage support of, the SBM in leadership roles.

I’ve said before that I also think a change in the mindset of the SBM is needed. The opportunities to gain leadership experience and a leadership role are out there (though not necessarily in their current establishment). Flexibility, resilience and adaptability (often primary skills of an SBM) are required. Organisations exist to support any gender in the pursuit of their desired career with qualification pathways offering professional development at many levels. I’m sure there are many SBMs willing to mentor, and there is EduTwitter. What I believe is often lacking, and holding them back, is the SBMs own self-belief.

This is where proactive, positive and motivational groups are so important. Your “10% braver” mantra is an important inspirational tool to encourage women (and SBMs) to push for their goals and achieve their dreams. I believe that this is the support that SBMs need most to inspire and motivate them to grasp the available opportunities and realise their potential.

I would love to think that through my blog (and also those of my fellow bloggers) with positive encouragement, laughter and promotion of the transferable skills usually found within a professional SBM, we can also inspire individuals to grow and promote themselves, with outcomes that include increasing their wellbeing and belief in themselves.

Thank you for your question. I do believe that it is only together that we’ve got this.


If you’d like to ‘Ask Anna’ please email All emails will be read and I hope to be able to answer some of them via this blog. I look forward to hearing from you.


4 thoughts on “Ask Anna – What Support is available?”

    1. Thank you. I’ve worried about this post being not as “women friendly” as the question was hoping for, but I thought it was better to be honest. It’s my experience that male SBMs forge a different role for themselves but that doesn’t mean it is “better” or more highly paid, or more likely to progress more highly into leadership. What do you think?


      1. Not all but a few men are, in my personal opinion, are a bit grey(hair,suits. You get the drift) I don’t think gender is such an issue, nor should it be as in headship. I think you were spot on.

        Liked by 1 person

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