School Business Leadership



We do love our acronyms in education. We all get so used to the likes of SBL, GAG, SEND and PP that it is sometimes difficult to remember there are some readers who aren’t used to the language and I do appreciate that it must be hard for the uninitiated to keep up.

Barry is always telling me that I should use the term ‘School Business Leader’ instead of ‘SBL’ in this blog. But I think that if you’re reading this, you are probably already aware of whats going on and if not, it doesn’t take a minute to ask…or google it.

So, at the risk of readers leaving in droves, I’d like to bring in another acronym and say that SBL = ARC

In my view, there are three vital traits a School Business Leader needs for success in our currently fast-changing and challenging industry…

Adaptability, Resilience, Confidence


You might be able to think of other important personal features of the SBL, but I think these three are the foundation stones of our role’s person specification.


The world around us is changing. Our role is changing. Change isn’t necessarily bad. Of course, it can be challenging, it may mean you need to rethink your reason for being there and it may mean embarking on another of those vertical learning curves. In the current climate, the SBL that isn’t adaptable is unlikely to be an SBL for long.

Embrace change, however scary it might be and however much it might change your own day-to-day. Do the SBL thing and support those around you in the implementation of the change.


This is a key skill of the SBL. However confident we might be there is always someone in the building who describes you as a ‘non-teacher’, as if that makes you a second class citizen. I often say – luck is not a factor. Things will go wrong. You will make mistakes. You will, at some point, drop a plate…

Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, ignore the nay-sayers and try again.


I’m not just talking about your ability to get up in the morning and go in to work to tackle the day-to-day responsibilities that come with the job. I’m talking about the kind of confidence that enables you to push boundaries, to step outside of your comfort zone and to question decisions of other School Leaders. This is the confidence that means you can regularly say ‘no’, you can embrace new challenges and the fact that something has never been done before doesn’t put you off.

Confidence needs regular cultivation to ensure growth. So we must all accept those offers to do something different, to find a solution, to present to a staff meeting,  to run a workshop, lead a trip or host an important visitor.

I have found that my confidence has grown immeasurably since I became a member and fellow of the ISBL. Having that professional body behind me and confirmation (in the form of the professional standards) that I do have the skills required to do my job, gives me the confidence to speak up when I may not have done just a few years ago.


We all love the role of SBL because of the variety. It’s true that sometimes the variety is not what we would like but with ARC we can own it, lead it and set an example for others in our teams to follow and draw their own confidence.

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