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Support for the challenges of school budgeting

The elements involved in drawing up a school budget, balancing income and expenditure, and ensuring there is enough capital to drive the school development plan, are varied and complex. A lot of juggling is required to guard against shortfall, as well as clarity of reporting to fulfil statutory accountability requirements.

The main element of a school’s budget lies in the allocation of funding based on pupil numbers. This represents 90 per cent of a school’s overall income. However, this allocation is typically boosted by such things as the pupil premium for disadvantaged children, sixth form and high needs top ups, devolved capital for academies and private income from lettings and other entrepreneurial initiatives.

Staffing costs usually represent up to 85 per cent of a school’s expenditure, with premises’ costs running to up to 12 per cent. Out of the remainder of a school’s allocation the finance manager needs to ensure costs such as asset management and ICT development can be covered, as well as any expenditure associated with raising pupil attainment, Ofsted improvements, and local authority or central government plans.

Operational costs for utilities, cleaning, repairs and maintenance, insurance and other service level agreements also need to be catered for.

A school does have a number of opportunities to improve the value for money it can achieve in terms of teaching allocation, curriculum breadth, teacher and staff absence cover and the size of the non-teaching workforce. All of these elements can contribute to budgetary alterations that are within the control of the school.

For example, at one Swindon secondary school the SBM made good use of her background in and passion for catering to achieve a 600 per cent increase in lunch time takings. Such entrepreneurial flair will be increasingly required if schools are to improve their budgetary circumstances.

NAHT Assure offers financial consultancy to help you define your school budget, as well as budgeting and financial reporting software. If you would like further information please contact the NAHT Assure finance support team on 0845 519 7001 or email helpdesk@nahtassure.co.uk.

Course links

NAHT offers a suite of finance and management courses

Page Published: 03/06/2015