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CIPFA Certificate School Financial and Operational Leadership

Level 7 Certificate in School Financial and Operational Leadership

An innovative programme developed by CIPFA and The Institute of School Business Leadership (ISBL) for current and aspiring Chief Finance and Operations Officers.

About the course

The Level Seven Certificate in School Financial and Operational Leadership has been developed by CIPFA and The Institute of School Business Leadership (ISBL) for current and aspiring chief finance and operations officers.

It recognises that school business management professionals are increasingly important, especially in Academies and Multi Academy Trusts (MATs) and aims to ensure that you meet the highest professional standards when it comes to overseeing (amongst other things) finance, corporate governance, risk management and strategic procurement.

This innovative programme has been specifically designed to meet the professional standards as developed by the key sector stakeholders and practitioners and is recognised by the Department for Education.

It takes into account your past qualifications and provides a flexible blend of e-learning, workbooks and face-to-face sessions to enable you to develop your skills in:

  • financial management and reporting
  • the education funding environment
  • writing business cases and taking investment decisions
  • governance, accountability and assurance
  • procurement and contract management
  • liaising with, and providing information to, internal and external auditors.

Please download the course brochure for full details.

Who is the course aimed at?

  • Professionals who aspire to be chief finance officers or chief operating officers in schools and academies.
  • Those working in a senior position within finance or business management.
  • Those working inside and outside education.

Upcoming dates

Click on the links below to make your booking via the ISBL website:

Course outline

The programme is made up of nine modules that are delivered in three stages:

  • The Foundation Stage covers the first module and will provide you with basic skills and knowledge about academy finance and operations, allowing you to undertake the second and third stages of the programme with confidence.
  • The Intermediate Stage then builds on this knowledge, covering complex issues around the finance and operations of academies and school structures.
  • The Practitioner Stage will equip you with the knowledge and experience to tackle more complex issues around the finance and operations in academies and school structures. It will provide contextual knowledge for those operating in high-level finance positions, but not familiar with the education sector, and will also assist those school business management (SBM) professionals already in the sector who wish to expand and develop their role.

Depending on the qualifications you may already hold, you may be exempt from some of the modules.


The qualification takes either one year or six months to complete, depending on which qualifications you may already hold.


You will be assessed via a multiple choice exam, written assessment and a portfolio of evidence.


On successful completion of the programme, you will be awarded a Level 7 postgraduate certificate.

CIPFA membership

On successful completion of the programme, you will receive exemptions if you wish to go on to complete the CIPFA Professional Qualification.

Alternatively you can apply for CIPFA Affiliate membership, which also gives you access to a wealth of resources and networking opportunities.

To find out more and apply, click on ‘Other professionals’ at:

CPD hours

The full programme carries 200 CPD hours

The Practitioner Stage carries 80 CPD hours.

contact us

Please fill in this form and we will contact you shortly to discuss how we can help you:


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