May the 8th is the day after the next election, when we will know in general terms how education will be funded for the next 5 years. Have you updated your SWOT & PEST to take account of a range of different futures? Cautious – Balanced – Optimistic
Financial Plans Last week saw political parties starting to explain how they would fund education if they win the next election. Over the last five years, the education budget has been protected from cuts, rising in line with prices. But this may not be the case moving forward. It seems likely that schools’ income while not being cut will fall behind the increases in costs expected. Whilst politicians may state that the rate of inflation is low at present to justify the removal of guarantees to maintain funding in real terms, the biggest cost to schools, staff, will see inflation busting rises as pensions become more expensive to fund, with changes in employer contributions and national insurance rates. Price pressure will also hit schools in older building that require significant maintenance to ensure they are fit for purpose. For BBC reporting of last week’s announcements – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-31087137
What can you do?
At the very least you need to review your 3 – 5 year financial plans. And its not just one plan you need but 2 or 3 (as a minimum) based upon different views about future income and cost scenarios. Your risk management strategy should include a cautious, balanced and optimistic view about your future. School Business Services can help you plan for a range of scenarios using SBS Online – the business modeling and budget planning tool that can produce five year financial plans. For more information or to book an online demonstration visit http://www.sbsonline.org.uk or call 0845 300 8179 option 2.
The past is often a guide to the future. If you traditionally spend a lot on, say, grounds maintenance then the chances are you will in the future – especially if you do not know how similar schools are managing their grounds maintenance spend. Schools and academies will now have detailed information about their spend in the 2013-2014 academic year, and will shortly have to prepare budget projections for 2015 – 2016. This is the ideal time to benchmark your income and expenditure. The School’s Financial Benchmarking site (https://www.education.gov.uk/sfb/) has information on spend in the maintained sector. Academies can login as a guest to obtain data on a school similar to their own; for example a ‘non London primary with medium FSM’. A number of the major accounting firms also produce benchmarking reports on academies. Hacker Young has recently published its 2015 report on the 2013/14 academic year. The report includes a comparison sheet that allows you to add your details. For a copy of the report click here. Support for better financial forecasting and management
Reminders & Notes
If you haven’t claimed your non domestic rate relief yet – please go to https://www.gov.uk/academies-funding-claims#national-non-domestic-rates The National College for Teaching & Leadership has launched a new blog on self-improving school-led systems, with examples how collaboration can improve pupil outcomes. See https://nctl.blog.gov.uk/2015/01/05/a-school-led-system/ For details of the funding available for Pupil Premium Summer Schools in 2015 visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pupil-premium-summer-schools-programme-2014 For the latest newsletter from the Independent Academies Association go to http://www.iaa.uk.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/The-Academies-Voice-February-2015.pdf