The History Behind Able

In the early 1990s schools were given the opportunity to delegate and manage their budgets locally, away from the full management of Local Authorities. This local management of schools (LMS) era brought with it a whole host of new duties for school administrative staff and therefore a group of Senior Administrators/Leaders, (5 in total), in schools decided to get together to support each other in a very informal meeting 4 or 5 times per year. 

As the breadth of the LMS took hold in the Nottinghamshire Authority Schools more and more support staff wanted to become a part of this group to get the help, networking and support they needed.  It was then that the original members began to formalise the group with, what was then, the National Bursars Association and received funding for initial set up to develop the meetings and offer professional training and venues.  The group was named as the Nottingham Bursars Group.  A committee was formed to ensure that the group had the best chances of success by ensuring that it would be led by support staff professionals in education.

The membership of the group has continued to grow over the years and has adapted to ensure alignment with National organisations and the need to respond to change and demand in schools.  In 2009 the group changed its name to the Nottingham Association of School Business Management to align itself to the change of the National Bursars Group to the National Association of School Business Management. It was at this point that Nottingham City schools began to become valued members.

The group’s links with partner business and local authorities has also grown over the years and the reputation of the quality of conferences, training and support has improved immensely. The sponsorship, business and financial support from these companies and authorities continues to ensure that the group thrives and can deliver the best opportunities to members.

So, now we have embarked on a new adventure, still with three of the original committee members still leading the way, the group has become the Association of Business Leaders in Education (ABLE) from September 2017. Yet again we are responding to the demands and expectations placed upon us by the formation of Multi Academy Trusts and individual changes in business roles in our schools and academies and to ensure we align to these changes in our profession to support, develop and meet the needs of our members. It is also worth noting that the group of committee members working hard on the development of the group do so, voluntarily, and without their continued commitment, the group would cease to exist.

The group has had consistently 230 plus members over the last few years.  We are also now in a position to offer higher membership numbers due to constant change of venue to meet demand and also welcome colleagues from neighbouring authorities such as Lincolnshire and Derbyshire.  At £60 per calendar year for the number of events and training members have access to, it is sincerely one of the best value for money staff development opportunities on offer.     However, this value for money, is only possible because the group is also in demand from local and national companies who want to exhibit at conferences and offer training and support, which gives the group financial development and sustainability to provide the breadth of opportunities for all.

Karen Bonser

Chair (Original Committee Member)

Able | Association of Business Leaders in Education