Level 4 Diploma for School Business Managers

Level 4 programme details    

Introducing the new ILM accredited programmes for school business managers

ILM Level 4 Diploma for School Business Managers – for new and existing school business managers

The newly-developed qualifications are closely linked to the latest ISBL Professional Standards for school business managers (SBMs) and reflect the changing roles performed by school business professionals across schools and academies.

The new Level 4 Diploma for School Business Managers features:

• 15 months study
• Accreditation by ILM
• Up-to-the-minute content
• Aligns with latest Professional Standards (ISBL)
• Blended learning (includes 4 x regional face to face sessions) or fully online pathways
• Level 4 full programmes start termly during 2018/19 – apply now
• Prices for full programmes include ILM accreditation
• Level 4 Individual Units also available (see details below) – apply now

These qualifications are designed specifically for school business professionals and aim to provide the knowledge and skills required to develop your career further. They will also enable school business management professionals to:

• manage school resources more efficiently and effectively
• evaluate the nature of school business operations within your school
• gain specialist expertise in business support services

These newly-designed programmes are open to all schools and are separate from the trailblazers apprenticeship scheme.

The Level 4 Diploma is open to new or aspiring school business managers, as well as those already in post as an SBM or a similar role (such as Finance Manager, Office Manager, School Administrator, Business Support Officer, Bursar, HR Manager, etc).

Further information is available in our guidance FAQs document available under Key Documents (on right of this page). See also price list (in Key Documents, right) for latest pricing information.

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 new Level 4 full programme consists of four mandatory units (Leading Support Services, Procurement, Finance and HR) which are studied over approximately 15 months using a variety of distance learning methods. These activities include interactive online units, use of online resource materials, online research and online networking through your forum areas. Assessment is mainly through unit assignments usually produced with a portfolio and submitted electronically. See more details about our e-learning areas here

    The blended learning pathway also includes four 1-day 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 regionally in England.  

    Previously, we have delivered the blended learning face to face workshops in various 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.

    We also deliver specific local SBM groups on behalf of local authorities or academy groups (reduced rates available), please contact us for more information.

    The full Level 4 Diploma programme leads to a recognised Level 4 qualification – see ILM accreditation details here.

    There will be several intakes for the full programmes (both fully online and blended learning) each year. Details regarding the next intakes 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 Diploma qualification should you decide to complete the full programme later (conditions apply – see note below).  

    New Level 4 Individual Units available from 2018:

    • Finance
    • Marketing (new unit)
    • Procurement
    • Human Resources

    If you complete a single unit, part of the price of the unit will be redeemed if you then decide to study the full programme. See price list (under Key Documents, right). Please contact us if you want to study more than one individual unit as conditions apply for those taking more than one individual unit. 

     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.

    Tip: We suggest that the most effective pathway (if you do not wish to study the full programme straightaway) is to study one IU first and then join the full programme. 

    The study period for individual units (IU) is approximately 14 – 16 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.

    ILM accreditation is an extra cost for Individual Units, but if you intend to continue to the full qualification after completing a single unit it is more cost effective to include accreditation as part of the full programme.  Please contact us to discuss your options.

    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. 

This programme is eligible for the Advanced Learner Loan (max. loan available is £724) which you can apply for through the Student Loans Company. You will need to complete the programme application form with us first, then apply for the loan separately.  Details here.

The course 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. 

Our schedule for 2019 will be available later in the summer. We normally offer full programmes termly, and individual units at various intervals through the academic year.

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.

  • Level 4

    Fully Online

  • £1448
  • or two staged payments of £978 & £542
  • Apply by:  31st August 2018
  • Start Date: 15th October 2018
  • Apply Now
  • Level 4

    Blended Learning

  • £1644
  • or two staged payments of £1102 & £624
  • Apply by: 24th August 2018 
  • Start Date: 8th October 2018
  • Apply Now
  • Level 4

    Individual Unit

  • £363
  • Marketing Unit NEW!
  • Others available in 2018 and 2019
  • See table below for dates and prices
  • Apply Now

All prices exclude (but are subject to) VAT.

Programme (course code)Apply byStart date 
Level 4 Blended Learning (710)24th August 20188th October 2018Apply Now
Level 4 Fully Online (715)31st August 201815th October 2018Apply Now
Level 4 Blended Learning (710)11th January 201925th February 2019Apply Now
Level 4 Fully Online (715)25th January 201911th March 2019Apply Now
Level 4 Individual Units
HR in Schools £363 + VAT (725)application window closed17th Sept 2018 Apply Now
Managing School Procurement £363 + VAT (730)application window closed17th Sept 2018 Apply Now
Marketing in Schools £363 + VAT (735)application window closed17th Sept 2018 Apply Now
Managing School Finances £363 + VAT (720)application window closed17th Sept 2018 Apply Now

For some examples of current school business manager vacancies and other information about the school business management profession, please visit the ISBL website.  ISBL (Institute of School Business Leadership) is the new name for NASBM (National Association for School Business Management), a partner organisation of the SBM Partnership.  Note: ISBL 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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