MAT

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

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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

 

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

 

 

Meet EduFin's Junior Consultant

Here at EduFin, we are proud to announce the arrival of our first Junior Consultant - Lawrence Brooks. Lawrence joined EduFin in September 2016 after working at two multi-academy trusts using both PS Financials and FMS. 

Since joining, Lawrence has worked for many different Schools and Trusts covering for absence and also data-entry training on the use of PS Financials. In addition to this, he has taken on the mantle of HCSS Accounting; having set-up the security structure, entered all opening balances and supported with bank reconciliations and payment runs.

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On working for EduFin thus far, Lawrence said “The environment has refuelled my hunger for accounting and working alongside fun and informative directors has enhanced my knowledge in all aspects of the academy sector.”

Lawrence, who is working towards his full AAT qualification, is available to support your academy finance team when resources on the ground are caught short. Knowing three pieces of academy accounting software and possessing the ability to hit the ground running makes his skills highly sought after.

Director of Finance and Business Services, Edenham High School said: "Lawrence’s support and expertise on using PSF to its full advantage has been so helpful to our school and the learning we have gained from him is immense on dealing with day to day financial transactions. I would recommend Lawrence to any school that needs support on understanding how to use PSF effectively." 

With depth in ability and a can-do attitude, Lawrence says his main aim is to "support your every requirement without difficulty or the traditional finance jargon”.

Contact us now if you’re interested in hearing more about what our shiny new Junior Consultant can do for you!

EduFin Unveil New Website

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Hello! Welcome to our new blog. Here at EduFin, the team have been busy behind the scenes getting ready to announce the launch of our new website and rebrand.

We’re very excited to unveil a website that can now showcase our Education Finance Services in the best way possible. With expertise ranging from software through to consultancy, you can now navigate through all that EduFin offers with ease, making it faster to find the information relevant to you.

We’ve ensured our site is now compatible with all tablets and smart phones so you can connect with us whilst on the move.

Although we’ve undergone a change, here at EduFin, we haven’t lost sight of our core values –  helping academies make their finance outstanding.

Why not stay in touch and up-to-date with all our latest offers, products and services by following us on Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook, we’d love to hear what you think of our new website and learn more about you.

If there’s anything you’d like more information on just Contact Us directly to find out how our team can improve finances at your academy or trust.