Heads don’t become heads because they love facilities management.

In the drive to raise standards of teaching and learning, the process of contracts management and compliance is a necessary evil, but one many primary schools headteachers are still struggling with.

According to the National College nine in ten secondary schools now have a school business manager, but the figure for primaries is only one in three.

We’re looking at some research to understand how many hours the average primary school head spends on such duties as health and safety auditing, contractor vetting, risk assessment and premises management. Your comments would be very welcome. We know that a qualified SBM can free up nearly a third of the headteacher’s time for leading teaching and learning. What would you do with an extra 10-15 hours a week? An extra three months in the year?

Do primaries lack SBMs for budgetary reasons? Figures produced by the National College show that a qualified SBM can save up to five per cent of the school’s budget through efficient planning, budget management, and strong negotiation.

We’re a strong advocate, along with the National College and NASBM, of the role of the school business manager as an integral part of the school leadership team.  The school business managers we speak to work hard, and are focused not only saving money for the school, but driving income where possible be it through venue hire, the selling of services or expertise to other schools.

An interesting insight for us has been how quickly SBMs, who work day-in day-out on operational management, see the benefits of TES Foundation; some heads, however, can perceive software as something they don’t have time to get to grips with: even when the evidence is that it will save them time and hassle very quickly after implementation.

Times are changing. Are you a primary thinking of taking on their first SBM this autumn? Or do you see operational management as an integral part of your own role? What are the barriers in your mind to a tried-and-tested software option?

We’d love your comments.