The business of education

Business Managers; Directors; CEOs microsoft project alternative free. These are usually posts commonly placed in businesses of all size, but these terms are increasingly being applied to school staff, particularly in England.

Long gone, it seems, are the days when the school was managed by a headteacher, school secretary, possibly a deputy or two, and even head of subject departments. Along with the drive towards academisation, the language used to address staff is shifting, in line with the terms mentioned at the top of this article. The titles sound very grand, and may even come with benefit packages for the individuals concerned, but is this “business-ification” of schools a healthy trend in a modern education system?

Managing budgets that easily go into tens of millions of pounds, it clear to understand why schools are starting to behave like (and look like) corporate organisations, and this may be justified to observers looking in from the outside. Indeed, with the accountability culture running alongside the race to get students through school doors, this ‘professional’ persona being created by the business of schools is evident across many towns and cities. Governing bodies are being replaced by Governing Boards, which seemingly now have the freedom to exclude parents (the key partners in schools) from serving and being excluded in having a say in the direction the school – despite the education secretary in England discouraging such exclusion.

If schools want to run like businesses, then they need to behave how businesses are required to report to their shareholders.

It is clear when managing such significant budgets, that there needs to be a clear financial structure and systems in place to ensure funds are being spent wisely. As the key stakeholders in the school environment are pupils and their parents (sorry, but they are), financial reports should be made available yearly, and open to scrutiny from these stakeholders, holding to account the key decision-makers in the school. If schools want to run like businesses, then they need to behave how businesses are required to report to their shareholders. It’s not about profit, it’s all about positive educational outcomes, and ensuring that pupils leave the school well-equipped for the next step in their life journey – no matter what that looks like.

When considering how schools are looking more business-like, we need to remember that all students do not want to end up working in an office based corporations. Schools need to build spaces, cultures, and opportunities that deliver a wide range of learning experiences for their pupils, helping individuals choose the career path that they are suited to. As Tony Blair once said, the focus in schools must be on ‘education, education, education’, and all students are not built to be well equipped to pass exam structures that explore narrow curriculum. Perhaps schools shouldn’t be judged on their exam successes – maybe they should be judged upon their pupil successes. Schools are in the business of education – and the education of our pupils is fundamental, as the impact on their future lives is immeasurable.