EduFin Takes on The London to Brighton Bike Ride

At EduFin, we have chosen to do something for a worthwhile cause and we’ve decided to do it together. Director, Ian Gough, who has already taken part in the London to Brighton bike ride suggested that this would be a perfect challenge for the team, although at 54 miles it’s going to be tough! It is also for a cause that resonates personally with many of us in the team - The British Heart Foundation.  

We can’t deny that as a team we aren’t the fittest of specimens but we are more than ready to give it a good shot! We've all got off to varying starts. Some of us have reached the half way point and cycled half the distance while others are yet to buy their their bikes! But we are committed to making it to the finish line. 

With this said, we’ve decided we should spread the joy (or the pain) and invite our clients to join us in this great opportunity to raise funds for a good cause and get fit at the same time. We are so dedicated to the cause that we have decided to pay the entry fee for the first 10 clients who get in touch and say they want to embark on the London to Brighton bike ride with us. This event is for cyclists of all experiences and levels so whoever you are – you could make the difference!

bike ride quote.jpg

Your entry includes:

  • Access to the Beach Village post race celebratory party

  • Traffic free and closed road sections on the route, including extended sections within London

  • Free water stops

  • Fully supported route including medical support and mechanical support

  • Exclusive London to Brighton Bike Ride medal

  • Pre event support for training and fundraising

  • Regular updates, including a welcome and rider pack, crammed with event information and fundraising support.


2000px-British_Heart_Foundation_logo.svg_.png

When: 16 June 2019

What to expect: London to Brighton Bike Ride is the British Heart Foundation's flagship event covering 54 miles from the crowds at Clapham Common to the buzz at Brighton beach.

Sign up to this world class event that takes you from city to coast, passing through beautiful Sussex countryside. Riding over the finish line to cheers, you'll continue the celebrations at our very own Beach village. Share the triumph of conquering the London to Brighton Bike Ride with your friends, family and fellow riders. 

So, if you want to join us in conquering the London to Brighton bike ride just contact us on info@edufin.co.uk or drop us a message here. The more the merrier! Remember, your pedalling could help power life saving research and beat heartbreak.  

Meet Abdul - EduFin's Junior Consultant

Better late than never to introduce another of our fantastic Junior Consultants – Abdul Juned. Having joined EduFin just over a year ago, Abdul has enjoyed working with an array of different schools and trusts.

Before joining EduFin, Abdul was a finance assistant for a seven-school trust and was quickly promoted to Finance Manager within a year. His passion for school finance swiftly led him to consulting for a large range of schools with diverse needs alongside EduFin. From covering for Finance Managers to providing one-on-one training for PS Financials, Abdul has assisted numerous academies with essential support.

oir3

Business Manager at Weald of Kent Grammar School saidAbdul has worked with the Finance Team at Weald for a number of months.  Not only has his knowledge and experience added value to the Team but his delivery of training and guidance has been given in an exceptionally sensitive and supportive manner.” She went on to say Abdul has “introduced new and more efficient practices whilst fully supporting the Team through this transition.”

Moving forward with just one final exam before completing his AAT, Abdul is now gearing up to start his ACCA qualification. Having now prepared Management Accounts, processed Year End and completed internal audits for a range of clients, Abdul has become skilled in meeting each academies bespoke needs.  Speaking about his greatest objective, Abdul says “It really is all about supporting clients everyday with a guarantee that they’re looking forward to tomorrow.”

Abdul’s knowledge and experience of school finance ensures that we have total confidence in his work with the Trust.
— Business Manager, OAT

Happy client, Michelle Smith,  Business Manager at OAT said “Abdul is extremely patient especially when training staff on the use of both PSF and accounting procedures relating to education processes. His knowledge and experience of school finance ensures that we have total confidence in his work with the Trust.” She says “On a personal note he is always smiling and happy –nothing is ever too much trouble.” 

If Abdul sounds like the kind of consultant that could suit your current needs then please do get in touch to learn more about what he can do for your school. 

Time to Start your 18/19 Budget

If you haven’t already started, now is the time to begin.

I’ve always been a big advocate of a decent three-year budget plan and of the importance of completing revised budgets once or twice a year but completing your new year’s budget early gives time to review and revise where necessary.

You may be asking: why to go to the effort of completing my 18/19 budget early,  if I already have a 3 year budget plan? But the truth is, most schools and academies have some form of budget tool that automatically extrapolates the data across 3 years, unfortunately, in many cases, the subsequent years may get some cursory attention that is focused on the bottom line but not much more. Many academies don’t start looking to complete the next year’s budget until they must - often because there is a looming ESFA deadline.
 

So, A quick and dirty guide to completing your 18/19 budget:

  1. Roll forward your 1718 data

  2. Update your pupil numbers with your October Census data

  3. If you do not have a budget tool that does it for you, update your funding streams to reflect the October Census data (assuming you’re lagged funded)

  4. Update your staffing with your current structure – ensure you’ve done a full payroll reconciliation by staff member

  5. Include all potential increments

  6. Go through all non-staff expenditure line by line

  7. Add or remove the cost of one off expenditure/projects

  8. Review all additional income streams

  9. Update your pension rates (if they’ve changed)

  10. Try not to go into shock in the middle of the office when you see the bottom line! 

  11. Book time with the Principal and relevant stakeholders to go through your initial draft budget

Tracy Budget copy (2).jpg

Getting the foundations right are critical in having a strong and financially stable organisation and this is never more prevalent than in a Trust. With so many financial challenges facing the Education Sector and many Trusts pooling reserves or looking to do so, having next year’s budget much earlier, provides plenty of time to review both the individual budgets and the collated position. It gives time to direct the resources to support those schools where they have been unable to complete a balanced in year budget, to review why and put measures in place, if necessary, to ensure they do. It allows the Trust to strategically plan where reserves may be required and best utilised.

A Trust that doesn’t start looking at the 1819 budgets until the Summer term is left with little to no time to make an impact and can quickly find that their reserves dwindle to nothing or worse. In short, it forces them to be proactive rather than reactive.

So, once you have year end in your rearview mirror and the auditors are no more than a memory, dust off your budgeting skills and get to it, a new year awaits.

 

Author: Director, Tracy Dawson

 

Top 5 to Consider when Setting a School Budget

As well as having to look at the next years’ budget for submission to the ESFA, all academies and trusts should be in the throes of preparing a 3-5 year budget for review with their trustees.  This will give an insight into the impact of rising costs and renewal plans, and if necessary, enable an action plan to be put in place now; before they get into a net deficit position.  So what is there to consider? 
 

1. Self-Generated / Voluntary Income

Frequently mentioned in the media of late, with costs reduced as much as possible the only other way to bridge the gap is to try and increase ‘other income’.  Some examples are as below;

  • Breakfast and After School Club

If this offering is already being made, a review to see if it is profitable may be a good idea.  Whether food can be donated from a local supermarket, the amount charged can be increased, the hours the club is open can be extended to be more appealing to working parents, the ratio of pupils to staff is the most efficient.  If schools within a local area can team up to provide this service economies of scale can be obtained to increase profit margins

  • Lettings Income

Again, the rate for the hire of facilities should be reviewed on an annual basis to ensure that it's covering costs.  Whereas schools let out sports facilities and halls as standard, it may be a requirement to think outside the box and look at hiring out meeting rooms / ICT suites for courses etc to try and increase income, with some academies even advertising their premises as wedding venues to generate a new stream of income

  • Voluntary donations from parents

Some academies do this as standard each year, asking for £10 per child for example.  However this is likely to become more popular, or rates may increase going forward as schools try to deal with budget cuts.  


2. Ultimate Staffing Structure

'£3billion of savings needed by 2019/20' according to the National Audit Office.  With an aim of less than 75% of all expenditure to be spent on staffing, a review of your current structure is inevitable.

The majority of academies we work with already try to minimise staffing costs via natural wastage, replacing posts with cheaper options, and using apprenticeships for cheaper labour.  However even with all of these savings some academies are still not able to balance their 3 year budgets.

It all seems to be bad news lately for the employer regarding staffing costs; national insurance increases, living wage rises, increase in pension contributions, apprenticeship levy, all on top of the normal annual increments!

An alternative radical method of looking at your staffing structure is to start with a blank piece of paper and build your ‘ultimate staffing structure’ from scratch.  This is difficult as it means ignoring people and just looking at roles.

To get this structure in place may result in a high initial outlay of redundancies and a large disruption; however the ongoing savings year on year should outweigh the initial cost, and the benefit to the education delivered to pupils should be worth the upheaval.
 

3. ICT / Premises Renewal Plan

These areas can sometimes can be overlooked; with just the actual costs from last year being used to budget for future years.
To remove any nasty surprises each academy should have a 3-5 year (at minimum) renewal plan for projectors / laptops / ICT suites / Ipad trolleys.  Along with a premises plan based on walk-arounds / planned maintenance / need for improvements.
Also ensure that you run any purchases of ICT hardware and software past your ICT expert to ensure that they are compatible with your network so as not to incur any wasted expenditure.

 

4. Review of Contracts

A review of all bought in services can be enlightening.  The amount schools pay for photocopier contracts in particular can vary by thousands!  Ensure you are always getting at least three quotes for large contracts to ensure best value for money is obtained.

There may also be various services schools purchase that are no longer necessary once they convert to an academy or become part of a Trust, so it is important to have a handle on when notice needs to be given to these companies to ensure that money is not wasted unnecessarily.

 

5. Pupil Premium

Although this needs to be disclosed on the academies’ website, a common error with budget setting is forgetting to ensure that costs are included for the equivalent amount of funding you estimate to get.  Obviously some of the funding can be used to cover staffing; if those staff members are specifically working with pupil premium students.  However other expenditure needs to be accounted for in line with the academies plan to bridge the gap for these students.


Some interesting statistics;

Interesting Statistics (1).jpg

Author:  Director, Carina Gilbert

 

Income Generation: How Easy is it Really?

With the education sector facing significant financial challenges; schools and academies are looking at how to make efficiencies. Income Generation is often one of the last areas to really be focused on but can yield significant benefits.

Rather than brining any surprises to the table, let's explore three old favourites and look at the obstacles that come with them. 

Nothing new here, but so many schools never venture into looking at available grants with exception of the big hitters, such as the Conditional Improvement Fund (CIF) but there are quite literally hundreds of grants available! They range from potentially high value grants for buildings, equipment, projects to the smaller grants. All that’s required is a little time and research and sadly a fair bit of dreaded form filling (everyones favourite.)

Obstacles:

Time: the School Business Manager's biggest enemy. We all wish there was a magic wand to wave over this one, but just like you need to schedule the completion of that Budget Forecast Outturn or prepare your Management Accounts this is also where one you really should prioritise a little time, even if it is to investigate your options. We’re helping you out with a few links to get you started at the end of this blog.*

There is the option of paying someone else to complete the research and many will even complete the bid on your behalf, but there will always be a cost implication and there is no guarantee of the funding, so weighing up the risk versus potential benefits is a must if you are considering this option.

In addition there are some companies out there that you can just access lists of grants and/or get the support you need such as Pebble or Grants 4 Schools.

Many grants are given to fulfil a specific brief, so ensuring that you read the criteria fully before will help to complete any bid. The last thing you want to do is to fill in forms only to discover you missed something that excludes you from the bid. For example, some grants for breakfast clubs target schools with a certain percentage of free school meals, if you were in an area with a low FSM percentage you wouldn’t qualify, so read the brief and try to make sure your bid encapsulates the criteria to maximise the potential of receiving that grant.

Many schools generate vast amounts of revenue with lettings but it can vary depending on where you are located, with inner city schools being able to demand higher premiums than those of a village school.

Obstacles:  

Things to consider are the costs associated to lettings, I’ve worked with more than one school where they hire a room for £20 an hour but the cost of having site staff and keeping the school open far outweighs the financial benefits. Then, of course, there is the potential disruption, mess that may be left, damage to property and bad debt etc. all of which are potential reasons not to venture into Lettings.

If you’re already letting your spaces as a school, make sure you are getting the ‘going rate’ as many long term lets will have never have put up the rate for years. If you have a large amount of lets, do you have different rates for community lets and private lets? Is it possible for site staff to work shift times? Many schools pay large amounts of overtime to site staff to be available after hours and its often unnecessary. Most important of all - invoice in advance! So many schools are left unable to recover high amounts due to lack of credit control, something we would associate more with business, but when it comes to lettings we should be applying the same principles to avoid having to write off bad debt.

This is an old favourite and although it's unlikely to raise huge sums it's still invaluable to have the staff, parents and students involved. Having something to raise funds for can often help drive up those donations. For example, raising funds for something like a new school minibus can have a real impact as the fundraisers can see a tangible asset at the end of their efforts and they get that warm fuzzy feeling. 

Obstacles:

Actually getting people to participate! This is probably one of the more difficult obstacles to overcome. Staff and students are normally more than happy to participate in fundraising activity but getting parental involvement can be more difficult for some school, the only thing I can advise is to persevere. You just need a find few who are really dedicated to the school and they are likely to take a lot of the work of your hands. (Hallelujah!)  


Remember, if you are receiving funds through grants or fundraising, a thank you, and update or if appropriate, an unveiling ceremony, goes a long way to showing your appreciation.(who doesn't like a thank you?) No matter how big or small the funds are. Also, never miss the opportunity to invite the local press so that the wider community can see the results of your efforts. Who knows, a future benefactor could be amongst the readers. 


https://garfieldweston.org/apply-to-us/how-to-apply/

http://www.lmct.org.uk/what-we-fund/grant-programmes/

https://www.greggsfoundation.org.uk/breakfast-clubs

http://ernestcooktrust.org.uk/grants/

Author: Director, Tracy Dawson