Serco Education

School Business Professional Apprenticeship


The SBM Level 4 trailblazers employers group, which included Serco, has developed a Level 4 School Business Professional apprenticeship which was launched in 2018.

It offers a school-based higher apprenticeship for school business professionals and others in school support roles, e.g. senior administrators, school office managers, finance officers, bursars, etc.

Course code: 620

Duration: 21 months study

Accreditation: Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) (optional)

Level: 4

Who can apply?

The School Business Professional Apprenticeship (SBPA) is open for anyone working in a school support role who is seeking to use their school's apprenticeship levy to fund their training.

Cohorts are typically offered every term. Our next start date is October 2021.  There will usually be one or two (or more) regional locations across England for the one-day face-to-face workshops. New intakes start every term.

See foot of page for application link.

It is essential that you have the support of your line manager.

A minimum of English & Maths at Level 2 (equivalent to GCSE grade A*- C) are required for this apprenticeship but if you don't have these qualifications we can help you gain the level 2 requirement during your SBPA studies at no extra charge.

PLEASE NOTE: Anyone currently undertaking an apprenticeship or DfE funded programme of study will not be eligible for a higher apprenticeship until they have completed their current apprenticeship/studies.

Programme details

The School Business Professionals Apprenticeship (SBPA) is an opportunity like no other!

The SBPA will typically take around 21 months of practical learning (timescales may vary depending on your weekly contracted hours) and is open to school business managers (or similar) at all levels. If you work term-time only, then your apprenticeship study time will be extended pro rata.

Finally, you will need to complete a one-day assessment centre (end-point assessment or EPA) once you have completed all activities. This end-point assessment (EPA) should take place within a 3-month window after the successful completion of your apprenticeship studies.

The programme will include 5 one-day face-to-face sessions, up to 6 on-site coach visits at your school together with online and work-based learning covering a wide range of operational  and management skills, knowledge, self-awareness and behaviours.

Your employer must also commit to the mandatory apprenticeship 20% off-the-job training requirement. However, this can include, for example, the face-to-face workshops, coaching visits, local SBM network meetings and other learning and development activities. Please refer to the Key Documents (below) for more information on this. 

SBPA Overview:

  • 5 x regional face-to-face workshops together with online working
  • 21 months duration for studies + attendance at end-point assessment (within a 3-month window)
  • Pro rata extension to study time for those working, on average, less than 30 hours a week
  • 20% off-the-job training time
  • 1:1 support from a coach who will visit your workplace regularly (plus telephone support)
  • Periodic reviews to include your coach and line manager
  • Development of a work-based portfolio to evidence learning
  • Mapped to latest ISBL Professional Standards

See the FAQ document (below) for more information.

To apply online please scroll to the application section at foot of page.

SBP Apprenticeship - how will I pay?

The Level 4 School Business Apprenticeship has been allocated to the funding band of up to £6,000, however the cost of the programme may be reduced slightly depending upon previous experience and qualifications. See Key Documents (below) for further details. 

Providing you are from a levy-paying school, then, as a general guide, 80% of the apprenticeship cost is split into monthly payments to the provider, with the remaining 20% payable on completion (this is a simplified example of the process); this is normally paid out from your school/trust/local authority’s apprenticeship service digital account (referred to as the DAS account).

Important: You must ensure that your funding manager, apprenticeship manager or procurement team can confirm that there are sufficient funds available in the school/trust/local authority’s levy fund account. Please note that for local authority applicants most LAs will require training providers to submit to their procurement or approved training provider process before funds can be allocated; this may impact on your start date. Some LAs will require an internal approval process for their apprentices before they can apply - please check with your LA apprenticeship team first.

Alternative payment options are available for non-levy paying employers (employer co-investment scheme) – please contact us for more details or see information here . An updated scheme for non-levy employers was introduced from January 2020.

To apply online, please scroll to section at foot of this page.

Other considerations

The apprenticeship levy will cover the cost of the training programme but doesn’t cover travel costs, WebEx call charges (depending on your phone provider) or accommodation should you need overnight accommodation when attending the one-day workshops during your studies.  Salaries will not be covered.

This is an exciting opportunity to gain a Level 4 qualification whilst working but please think carefully about your time commitment and how you will manage the day-job. Your employer must be able to allocate 20% of your working time for off-the-job study/learning; this does include the face-to-face sessions and coach visits, etc., though.

Whilst the programme is delivered flexibly there will be deadlines for assignments and attendance at the 5 one-day workshops is mandatory.  Should you wish to discuss this further please contact Serco Education either by phone on 01452 341 829 (office hours) or email:

Remember to discuss this opportunity with your line manager who will be required to support you during your studies. You will also need separate permission or approval from your funding / apprenticeship manager (please check this before applying). 

Please note that, whilst your learning will be guided, with support from your facilitators (at the workshops and online) and your coach, you will be expected to work through the learning materials via Serco Education's online web platform. 

Each unit that you study will have a start and end date and you may have one or two milestones during each unit, plus assignment submissions at the end of each unit, but aside from these it will be up to you to determine the pace at which you study and the amount of additional reading and research you do. 

This may be a different style of learning to your previous experience and it relies on your own motivation and commitment to succeed; some of the evidence required for your portfolios will be compiled from your workplace or day-to-day role.

Read about the experiences of learners on the School Business Professional Apprenticeship:

Carol Stephenson read the full story

Antoniya Abios read the full story 

Key documents

To apply online, please scroll to section below.

Complaints Policy

We work hard to ensure that apprentices and their employers receive a high quality experience throughout an apprenticeship.  We endeavour to respond to any concerns as soon as they arise but occasionally complaints do arise.  Our employer complaints process may be found here

Ready to apply?

If you are ready to apply, once you have read the Key Documents and discussed with your employer/line manager the commitment you will be making, please visit download your application pack here to start the application process (The link will open an Excel Document for you to work through prior to returning to us).

Please note that there are a number of different sections to the application that will require you to gather information to support your application.  The most important of these sections is to ensure that you have available apprenticeship funding in order to start, this is something that we can advise on should you not be sure where to go to check, but we are unable to find out this information for you.

The next application window is now open for the cohort starting March 2022

The closing date for this cohort is the February 2022.

All courses

Apprenticeship levy

Your school or employer may pay a 0.5% levy to fund growth in apprenticeships, so it simply makes sense to get out what you put in! Let your school reap the benefits from that investment and further develop high calibre managers.