SBM Services Ltd

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by SBM Services Ltd's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from SBM Services Ltd is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Managing Director
The enthusiastic and hard-
working SBM Services team
Not every school has the time and expertise to handle all
of their business and accountancy tasks as effectively as
they would like. While working as a business manager in a
secondary school, Justine Berkeley realised this and saw a gap in
the market to provide high-quality business services beyond those
traditionally provided by local authorities. Feeling entrepreneurial,
she decided to found SBM Services Ltd, a company that performs
business and accountancy services for schools and academies
up and down the country. With a committed and experienced
team of business management experts and accountants, the
company allows schools to operate more cost-effectively and to
spend more time on the thing that matters: educating the next
generation. Managing Director Justine Berkeley says more about
the company and their manner of operating.
Schools are not just centres of learning; they are organisations with many of the
same business requirements that commercial organisations have. Unlike other
businesses, though, the bottom line is not money; instead, the job of a school is
to educate and inspire children to the best of their ability. Given this situation, the
best headteachers and chief executive officers are not necessarily the best business
leaders, and this is entirely understandable.
Helping schools fulfil their potential
This is why SBM Services Ltd exists. We can handle a school’s business and accountancy
functions for them or work alongside school staff to develop and train them to deliver
»Managing Director:
»Founded in 2013
»Located in Essex
»Services: Business and
accountancy services for
»No. of employees: 12
»Net profit margin has
increased from 13 per cent to
20 per cent in just 5 years
SBM Services Ltd
Highlighting best practice
these effectively. Our management
services can be divided into seven
»Finance: Effective accounting,
budget management and helping
schools meet their statutory
»Efficiency reviews and income
generation: Achieving value for
money and raising enough funds to
deliver a quality education
»Personnel: Supporting schools
to have a high-performing, well-
motivated workforce
»Data protection: Keeping schools
compliant with regulations
»Academy conversion: Assisting a
smooth and efficient transition
and embedding a robust business
infrastructure for single and multi-
academy trusts
»Auditing: Demonstrating compliance
and effective governance
»School business management
toolkit: Online resources and remote
helpdesk to support with the delivery
of quality business functions.
Carrying out these services not
only saves schools time and keeps
them compliant with their statutory
responsibilities but also prevents them
from spending more money than
they have to. Saving schools money
through our cost-effective solutions
and taking away the burden of
meeting business regulations allows
schools to focus their resources on
where it matters most: improving
outcomes for children.
Core values
One of the aspects of the business
that I’m most proud of is my team of
committed employees. Competitors
can easily copy your systems and
processes, but staffing is unique to
every business and is pivotal to its
success. Behind the company is a team
of wonderful, dedicated and highly
competent staff. One of the reasons
they are so good is because they are
happy – and they are happy, at least
in part, because I have allowed them
to work on flexible terms that suit
their lifestyle. I’m particularly proud of
having among my staff working mums
who still want a fulfilling career with
prospects but also need to juggle the
demands of their young families. I am
committed to offering flexible working
hours to ensure they have a good
balance between work and home life.
There is a real sense of togetherness
in the company, which among
other things leads me to treat the
company’s profit not as my own but as
something that should be reinvested
into the business for its continued
development and to share in the
future for everyone’s benefit. I am
also committed to ensuring the part
that everyone plays in the business’s
success is recognised and rewarded,
and developing staff to reach their full
potential is a high priority.
At our core are five main values
which keep us on track and underpin
The company offers
a range of business
services to schools
Our clients
comment on
our high levels
of customer
service and
the obvious
and energy we
have for the
work we do
our success. First of all, there’s
“excellence” – this represents our
willingness to meet all challenges and
to be the best we can; being just good
is not good enough. Then there’s
“passion”, which communicates to us
and others that we love what we do.
Our clients regularly comment on our
high levels of customer service and the
obvious excitement and energy we
have for the work we do. Our ability
to deliver creative solutions and our
understanding that no two schools
are the same comprises our third
value: “innovation”. “Collaboration”
stands for our constant readiness
to share experiences, resources and
opportunities. Last but not least,
“caring” reminds us who we are
fundamentally catering for – namely,
young people and schools. Ultimately,
we love working in the sector that
we’re in.
Challenges facing the
One of the difficulties we experience
as a company is that many schools are
unaware of the need to have quality
business functions underpinning
teaching and learning or the potential
benefits of using a service like ours
to develop these. Many are steeped
in tradition, renewing contracts with
suppliers they have bought into
for years without challenging their
quality or value for money and are
not yet willing to think innovatively
to create the best solutions for their
organisation. With a large number
of schools experiencing challenging
financial circumstances, not being
creative and innovative is no longer
One of the reasons underlying this is
that many schools are reluctant to see
their operations in business terms. One
might think this would be less the case
for academies, but quite often even
they think in these terms too.
Working from a strong
Our business model is successful
enough that, even from day one,
the company was making a profit
without the need for extra funding
or borrowing. Since then, we have
continued to move from strength to
strength, both in terms of turnover
and our geographic presence. Starting
locally, we have since become a
nationwide service provider. Because of
this strong foundation, I am confident
that we have a healthy and exciting
future in store for us.
However, a business model is only as
good as the people who serve it. In this
regard, SBM Services Ltd is incredibly
lucky to have a passionate team who
really care about delivering the best
possible results for schools across
the country. Our hope is that, as we
approach the future, we will be able to
convince schools on tight budgets – of
which there is no shortage – that our
services offer excellent value and are
actually an investment that saves them
money and supports the delivery of
high-quality teaching.
Since then, we
have continued
to move from
strength to
strength, both
in terms of
turnover and
our geographic
The company’s head
office, located in Essex

This article was sponsored by SBM Services Ltd. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster