A school business manager establishes a peer-support network of 50 schools to generate innovative solutions to shared challenges in schools.

Jacqueline Straw, a school business manager (SBM) of The Minster, a local authority maintained teaching school, established a network of around 50 SBMs in her area. She also provides one-to-one support to some of these SBMs. Peer support helps SBMs to be efficient in their spending and improves their schools’ financial health.

The SBM network

Jacqueline’s SBM network provides a forum where SBMs share advice on a wide range of issues. These include funding changes, the impact of changes to National Insurance and pensions contributions, contract management and writing bids for additional income.

Networking also allows SBMs to explore potential efficiencies through shared procurement across a number of schools to achieve economies of scale. SBMs help each other to develop effective contract negotiations skills to make bigger savings.

Schools are now seeing concrete results in their budgets from being part of the network. For example, the network has helped some schools to identify procurement frameworks. These have led to savings in staff absence insurance and in larger contracts such as cleaning and catering.

Jacqueline has some tips for running a successful SBM network. She has found that it’s important to:

  1. Have a range of different types of schools involved in the network. She recommends a mix of academies and local authority maintained schools, and primary and secondary schools. This provides a range of different perspectives in the network and helps to generate innovative solutions to shared challenges.

  2. It’s important that the network has regular meetings. This builds up and maintains relationships between peer members and means the network can develop quick responses to urgent challenges. Jacqueline’s network meets every term.

  3. The network needs to develop and own the agenda. At each meeting, Jacqueline’s network agrees the agenda for the next meeting.

One-to-one support from a specialist leader of education

Jacqueline also works as a Specialist Leader of Education (SLE) providing coaching support to her peers. She has been supporting a new SBM in another school in special measures. Initial weekly coaching sessions became less frequent as the new SBM gained confidence. The sessions are well received. The new SBM said:

“Jacqueline’s support has been invaluable. She came more than once a week in my first half-term. She helped me to set up monitoring systems, manage my budget plan and collate sources of funding. She also provided support with the governor finance meetings. Along with practical advice, she offered help and support when I felt overwhelmed. She is always full of new ideas on how I can drive the role forward. I have now started my Certificate of School Business Management (CSBM) qualification. Jacqueline is my mentor offering advice when I need it.”

Where to go for further support

You can find lists of SLE specialisms in your area (and their contact details) by searching for teaching schools on the NCTL Directory.

If you’d like to find out more about the support that the Minster School providing, you can contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 1 hour 18 minutes ago

RT @EdTech_Summit: Experts including @DavidRussellETF @vikkiliogier @teresaetfound & Janet Clark from the Education and Training Foundation…
View Original Tweet

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page