An Educational administrator covers a wide variety of roles within schools, colleges and universities. Administration staff ensure that systems run smoothly and that staff and pupils have the resources and support they need.
The work is very varied, and there are opportunities in areas such as:
- Secretarial support
- Data management
- Finance and accounting
- Business management
- Marketing and promotion
- Examination administration
PERSONAL QUALITIES AND SKILLS
- Attention to detail
- Ability to communicate at all levels: with children, parents, colleagues and professionals from outside agencies and institutions
- Ability to manage and prioritise your own workload
- Great sense of humour
- Ability to remain calm under pressure
- Written communication skills
- IT skills
- Specialist knowledge in some roles (for example accounting)
- Able to work in teams of all sizes and independently
While no specific qualifications are required for many general administration roles, you will usually need GCSE Maths and English (or equivalent). Experience in a similar role, whether in education or another field, such as business administration, is useful.
School Business Managers and Bursars often have experience and qualifications in accountancy. Some other specialist roles, for example in HR, also require a relevant qualification. For other admin roles, it is often possible to train on the job, especially within schools. Apprenticeships are also available.
At university level, a degree is usually necessary, and a postgraduate or master’s degree is desirable. Some institutions run in-house graduate trainee schemes. There is also a graduate programme for university leadership, Ambitious Futures http://www.ambitiousfutures.co.uk/ , which offers a postgraduate qualification and practical placements in universities. To enrol, you need at 2:1 or better degree, gained within the last 5 years at a university that is a partner in the scheme.
Before training or working in a school or college in England or Wales, you will need to have a satisfactory enhanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check. In Scotland you will need a Disclosure, and in Northern Ireland a Criminal Record check. This ensures that adults in schools and colleges do not have any convictions which would bar them from working with children. Your employer will apply for and pay for this.
Staff working in Nursery and Primary schools also sometimes need to complete a self disclosure form, on which you must disclose if anyone in your household has a conviction of a violent crime or a crime against children. In some instances you may be barred from working with children if you live with someone convicted of such an offence.
DUTIES & RESPONSIBILITIES
These will vary from role to role, your responsibilities may include:
- Liaison with people at all levels in the school, college or university.
- Dealing with cash, for example handling school dinner money and selling uniform items in schools.
- Admissions, including registering new students and passing on information for leavers.
- Administrative support for teaching staff, such as writing letters, placing orders and other similar duties.
- Organising exams and assessments.
- Dealing with, analysing and presenting data from information systems.
- Managing budgets and adhering to financial systems.
- Payroll and petty cash.
- Processing invoices and other accounts work.
- Supervising staff.
- Liaison with outside agencies and other schools, colleges and universities.
- Organising trips, booking transport, activities and accommodation.
- Dealing with agencies and supply teachers to organise cover for absent staff.
- Organising premises lettings.
- Bidding for funding.
- Ensuring policies and procedures are followed.
SALARY RANGE AND BENEFITS
Salaries vary widely depending on the scope of the role. Starting pay in schools is around £12,000 per year, full time for general roles. Be aware that some roles are advertised at a higher rate, but to be paid pro rata, which means you are paid in term time only. Always check the actual salary as opposed to the advertised salary point, as there can be quite a big difference! Top levels of pay are round £35,000 in a large institution. A School Business Manager at a Multi Academy Trust can earn as much as £50,000, and be part of the Senior Leadership team.
Administrative roles at universities begin at around £17,000 and staff at the highest levels on management can earn up to £60,000.
Pay structures also vary greatly; some institutions will have a structured pay scale with progression, in others you may need to negotiate your own pay. Independent schools may offer other benefits such as health insurance or a company car.
You can also expect to be able to join a pension scheme.
These figures are an indication only.
HOURS OF WORK
In schools, these roles are generally for 25 hours a week, term time only, especially at the entry level. There may be some extra hours available, for example some schools employ admin staff for a week or two in the summer holidays to get things ready for the new academic year.
In other institutions, you will most likely work a 37 hour week; some roles may include working evenings. Holiday entitlement varies, some institutions will offer the same holidays as academic staff, others are less generous and may require some working during school or college holidays. Part time working is usually possible.
FINDING A JOB
Entry level roles are often advertised at local level, in a council jobs bulletin, so find the ones for your local area and sign up for email alerts. Schools and colleges will often advertise on their website, in local press and recruitment agencies too.
INSERVICE TRAINING AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
There are numerous pathways for career development in school administration. Your employer will provide training in line with their staff development policy. You will also be given training on any specific IT systems you need to use.
In addition, you could pursue a professional qualification with the National Association of School Business Management, who offer qualifications at Level 4, 5 and 6 for School Business Managers looking to move into leadership. Find out more at their website –http://www.nasbm.co.uk/Career-Development/Qualifications-and-Development-Pathways.aspx
Staff working in Higher Education can also access training via the Association of University Administrators http://www.aua.ac.uk/ , including a Postgraduate Diploma and MSc.
Your institution may offer you study leave or other support to complete these qualifications.
There are many routes through educational administration – you may be able to move to another related role with your employer or gain promotion.
As you progress in your career, you may wish to specialise and take relevant qualifications.
To progress to the highest level, especially in Higher Education, you will probably need to be willing to relocate.
FIND OUT MORE
It is a good idea to get some work experience if you are interested in working in this field – contact schools and colleges directly. Most institutions are happy to offer work experience. You may also be able to do some voluntary work and develop a good relationship that way.
In larger institutions, there may be an opportunity to take on a temporary role at busy times of year.