Level 4 Diploma in School Business Management (CSBM)

Level 4 (CSBM) programme details

The Level 4 Diploma in School Business Management (CSBM) programme provides participants with the skills and expertise to perform the role of school business manager and ultimately improve school effectiveness.

The programme is appropriate for those already in the role (or in a similar role) and who want to develop their skills and knowledge further, and is also relevant for those new to the role of the school business manager. The Level 4 (CSBM) is one of several training opportunities that we offer school business managers (SBMs).

Our Level 4 Diploma in School Business Management (CSBM) programme and units are based on standards developed by the National Association of School Business Management (NASBM) and recognised by the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL). We have continued to develop and update the materials for the Level 4 (CSBM) since we first began delivery in 2003.

Key features of our Level 4 (CSBM) programmes include:

  • Termly start dates (email us to register your interest in new 2018 programmes now)
  • Latest 15-month structure the result of feedback from our participants
  • Choose either a fully online or a blended learning format (includes three 1-day face-to-face regional workshops)
  • Study is now more manageable as you only study one unit at a time (not two together)
  • Easier progression through the programme
  • Better work/life balance as study is not so pressured
  • Fully accredited programmes available
  • Selected individual units available separately as ‘tasters’ (12 weeks each unit)
  • Online support and networking opportunities available within your study group forums

Who can apply?

We suggest that you should either be, or want to be, a school business manager currently performing all or part of the school business manager role (or similar) at either senior administrator or management level. Please see our Level 4 FAQs document (see right) and Terms & Conditions for more details.

Not sure which level to apply for? See our simple, new guide ‘Which programme should I choose?’ (under Key Documents, right) which helps to distinguish between each level of study so you can choose the best level for yourself. 

If you are not currently working in a school or the education sector, then you may wish to consider applying for the Level 4 Diploma (CSBM) via the Aspiring SBM pathway.  Please contact us if you need to discuss your eligibility for the most appropriate programme.

Once your application has been submitted and your place confirmed, you will be enrolled onto the programme’s e-learning area before the programme start date where you will access your programme activities, online discussion groups, online facilitator support and other programme details. Click here to view examples of our e-learning areas.

If you are interested in hosting your own local SBM group (reduced group rates apply) please click here for information.

Need more information? Please see the links under Key Documents panel (on the right) to print or download helpful documents. For alternatives sources of funding (conditions apply) click here.

Full Programme or Individual Unit Study

The Level 4 Diploma in School Business Management (CSBM) full programme is offered in two formats:

  • The Blended Learning format consists of online learning with the support of a peer forum and 3 (full day) regional face to face workshops (locations across the country are used for the workshop sessions). 
  • The Fully Online format is online learning only (with the support of a peer forum), which enables you to study entirely through distance learning.

The Individual Unit options are only available in a fully online format. Local SBM group options (locally hosted) are also available sometimes – see main date table below for latest information, or contact us.

Note: SBM Partnership certification is included but ILM accreditation for both the full programmes and individual units is also available at an additional charge.

Why choose to study with us? Click here to find out about our specialist expertise in delivering school business management programmes.  You can read a case study about the experience of one of our participants here.

  1. Full Programme

    The Level 4 full programme, also sometimes referred to as the Certificate of School Business Management (CSBM), consists of six mandatory units which are studied online over 15 months (approximately) using a variety of distance learning methods. These activities include interactive online units, WebEx sessions (web conferencing) where you will ‘meet’ your facilitator and other participants in your study group, online research and online networking. See more details about our e-learning areas here

    The blended learning pathway also includes three regional face-to-face workshops. Locations for these regional workshops will be confirmed after the application round has closed and you have been formally offered a place on the programme; the workshop venues are arranged across most regions in England.  

    We have delivered the blended learning face to face workshops in over a dozen different locations across the country, from Reading to Yorkshire and from Kensington to Rochdale.  At the point of offering places you will be advised of the date and location of all three workshops, allowing you to make an informed decision when accepting your place.

    From time to time we deliver specific local SBM groups on behalf of local authorities or academy groups. See main date table below for latest information or contact us for more information about arranging a local group in your area (reduced rates available).

    The full Level 4 (CSBM) programme can lead to a recognised Level 4 qualification – see ILM accreditation details here.

    The programme begins with online induction activities and the launch of the first development unit, ‘Understanding school business management’ which underpins much of the programme.  After this, participants will focus  on one unit at a time – see Level 4 FAQs document (right) for more details of the programme and assessment.

    There are several intakes for the full programmes (both fully online and blended learning) each year. Details regarding the next intake can be found by scrolling to the foot of this page. You will also find application form links below.

  2. Individual Unit

    There are a number of advantages to studying an individual unit.  It may be that you want to ‘test the water’ to see if the programme is right for you. Or you may like to improve your skills in a specific area.  Whatever the reason, you can study individual units with the knowledge that these may count towards your final Level 4 (CSBM) qualification should you decide to complete the full programme later (see note below).  

    Note that amended conditions may apply to individual units as the full Level 4 programme structure is due to change in 2018 – please contact us for more information about using individual units as a step towards completing the full qualification.

    If you complete a single unit, the full price of the unit will be redeemed if you then decide to study the full programme. See price list (under Key Documents, right) for details if you want to study more than one individual unit. (Please note: amended conditions and pricing of individual units may apply as a result of changes to the programme due in 2018 – contact us for details of costs and further information).  

     Note that you will need to join a full programme group at some stage if you study one or more individual units and then wish to complete the full programme – please contact us to discuss your options.

    The study period for individual units (IU) is approximately 12 weeks each and further details regarding the content of the units can be found in the Level 4 FAQs document (see under Key Documents on the right).  Individual units are offered subject to minimum numbers.

    For all unit study options you will need the support of a school as most study activities will involve work-based examples.  To apply for an individual unit, scroll down to the date table below and click on an Apply Now button.


Ready to apply?

Apply now – pay later.  We will invoice you a few weeks before your programme starts, so payment is not required at the time of application. 

For further information on financing your Level 4 studies with us, such as the Advanced Learner Loan, click here.

The application form is located on the  Serco Learning Centre website and so you will be automatically transferred to the site when you click on one of the ‘Apply Now’ buttons below. To apply for a local SBM group – see table below.

If this is your first application, you will need to create a user account on the learning centre site, which only takes a few minutes. You will be asked for your name and email address, and to create a username, password, and security question. You will then be able to complete the application form.

2018 programmes – please contact us for latest information on the new SBM programmes due to be launched in time for next year.

2018 programme schedules to be announced in the Autumn term

  • Level 4

    Fully Online

  • £1200
  • or two staged payments of £756 & £504
  • Apply by: Application window closed
  • Start Date: 9th October 2017
  • Applications Closed
  • Level 4

    Blended Learning

  • £1444
  • or two staged payments of £911 & £607
  • Apply by: Application window closed
  • Start Date: 25th September 2017
  • Applications Closed
  • Level 4

    Individual Unit

  • £310
  • Next Units available:
  • Contact us for details of 2018 units
  • See table below for dates and prices
  • Applications Closed

All prices exclude (but are subject to) VAT.

2018 programme information to be announced in the Autumn Term (contact us now to register your interest)

Programme (course code)Apply byStart date 
Level 4 Blended Learning (230)application window closed25th Sept 2017Applications closed
Level 4 Fully Online (240)application window closed9th Oct 2017Applications closed
Level 4 Individual Units
Managing School Finances £310 + VAT (250)application window closed18th Sept 2017Applications closed
Managing Human Resources in Schools £310 + VAT (255)application window closed18th Sept 2017Applications closed
Managing School Facilities £310 + VAT (260)application window closed18th Sept 2017Applications closed
Managing Risk in Schools £310 + VAT (265)application window closed18th Sept 2017Applications closed


For some examples of current school business manager vacancies and other information about the school business management profession, please visit the NASBM website. NASBM (National Association for School Business Management) are a partner organisation of the SBM Partnership.  Note: NASBM offer a reduced membership fee to participants on our Level 4 SBM programmes. Contact us for details.

I have really enjoyed the course so far, it has been hard work but has made me think outside the box. I feel that I have already learned a lot about School Business Management and I am looking forward to beginning the operational units.

Current Level 4 participant, who has just completed DU1

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