School Finance Support
At a time when school budgets are squeezed, spot-on forecasting, tight financial controls and value for money are critical. Get value for money by using school finance professionals to guide you and ease the pressure at critical points in the financial year.
Services provide a broad range of support to schools to plan and manage school finances efficiently.
Minimise financial risks, introduce robust monitoring, comply with legislation, forecast budgets, ensure value for money.
Seek financial tools to assist in your forward planning and business strategy.
- Improved knowledge of statutory and local financial frameworks
- More efficient and effective budget preparation, forecasting and cost control
- Professional development for finance managers and bursars
Don’t be driven by how your school has budgeted in the past. Think about what you would like to do if you had unlimited money, then look at how much you’ve actually have
The first thing you need to understand is the different funding streams by which the school receives its resources.
- Delegated funding (eg the dedicated schools grant) usually has no strings attached to it.
- Devolved funding comes with conditions on how the money can be spent. For example, you must be able to demonstrate how pupil premium money is benefiting target students and that devolved formula capital funding is only being spent on long-term assets.
- Capital funding can only be used to improve a long-term asset (eg upgrading buildings or the school’s technology network).
- Revenue funding should be used within a year (on salaries, heating, stationery and routine repairs etc).
Look at what proportion of funding in last year’s budget came from delegated funding, pupil premium, devolved formula capital funding and other sources.
You need an idea of how school funding is affecting your budgeting, particularly as certain funds are vulnerable to change.
Your school budget should reflect your school improvement plan – set on a five-year basis, showing two years in retrospect, the current year, and the next two years’ forecast.
Before setting up any new budget, you’ll want to have handy:
- Old budgets to look at past performance, so you can learn from under- and over-spends.
- Pupil numbers (census, local authority and feeder school lists). Be aware that neighbouring schools changing their admissions policies could also impact your numbers.
- Exam results, so you can identify which parts of the curriculum could benefit from more money, and which have previously.
- Staffing requirements, including updated pay scales.
- Other resource requirements – money needed for insurance, maintenance etc.
The DfE’s benchmarking system is a useful resource for school budgeters as you can see how much neighbouring schools spend on resources such as classroom assistants, catering, building maintenance and so on. It doesn’t show you why differences occur, however, so it’s important to read between the lines.
You can also benchmark costs on a smaller scale. Try carrying out your own comparisons on a pack of exercise books – where can you get the cheapest you can.