Level 4 Diploma for School Business Managers

Level 4 programme details    

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

The recently-developed ILM Diploma 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:

• 15-16 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 2019/2020 – 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

The Level 4 Diploma programmes are open to all schools (and paid for directly by your school) and are separate from the apprenticeship scheme – they are not eligible for apprenticeship funding

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.  

    Regional venue locations may vary for each intake and are offered subject to minimum numbers (note: if there is insufficient uptake for a workshop location when we formally offer places, you will be offered a place at the next closest location).  We have delivered the blended learning face-to-face workshops in various locations across the country, from Reading to Yorkshire and from London to Warrington.  At the point of offering places you will be advised of the date and exact location of all four 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 (usually every term) 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).  

    Level 4 Individual Units available from 2019:

    • Finance
    • 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 may be 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. If we don’t have an intake listed for the unit you wish to study, contact us and we’ll register your interest and give you more information.

Ready to apply?

Apply now – pay later.  We will invoice you a few weeks before your programme starts (note the Level 4 Diploma is NOT eligible for apprenticeship funding), so payment is not required at the time of application. 

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. 

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

    Blended Learning

  • £1644
  • or two staged payments of £1102 & £624
  • Apply by:  15th August 2019
  • Start Date: 7th October 2019
  • Apply Now
  • Level 4

    Fully Online

  • £1448
  • or two staged payments of £978 & £542
  • Apply by:  9th September 2019
  • Start Date: 21st October 2019
  • Apply Now
  • Level 4

    Individual Unit

  • £363
  • See table below for next dates 
  • Finance & HR units
  • starting September 2019
  • Apply Now

All prices exclude (but are subject to) VAT.

Programme (course code)Apply byStart date 
Level 4 Blended Learning (710)15th August 20197th October 2019Apply Now
Level 4 Fully Online (715)9th September 201921st October 2019Apply Now
Level 4 Individual Units
Managing School Finances £363 + VAT (720)18th July 20199th September 2019Apply Now
HR in Schools £363 + VAT (725)18th July 201923rd September 2019Apply 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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