Top 10 planning checks for governors

Published on 16 July 2018

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The Department for Education has recently released what they see as the top 10 planning checks for governors to check if their school is managing its resources and finances effectively. They have urged governors to use the checks early in the annual budget planning cycle and when looking ahead at the 3 to 5 year position.

Senior staff in schools and academies, including the finance directors and business managers will also find the guide useful.

The guide itself includes real practical examples of questions to ask at finance committee meetings, to challenge budgets and aid monitoring of costs, such as staff pay analysis, average teacher costs, pupil to teacher ratios etc.

The guide is timely with many academy trust boards across the country due to approve the 3-5 year budgets for submission to the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) by 30 July. The guide gives very practical and focused advice on how to challenge and scrutinise the financial information presented to them at such budget approval meetings.

The areas the guide covers are as follows:

  • Staff pay as percentage of total expenditure
  • Average teacher cost
  • Pupil-to-teacher ratio
  • Class sizes
  • Teacher contact ratio
  • Proportion of budget spent on the leadership team
  • 3 to 5 year budget projections
  • Spend per pupil for non-pay expenditure lines compared to similar schools
  • School improvement plan priorities and the relative cost of options
  • List of contracts with costs and renewal dates

The Academies Financial Handbook, alongside the Governance Handbook, is clear in that governors need to be effective in financial matters and demonstrate this in their meetings. Holding the leaders of the school or Trust to account is key. For new governors this can be tough and targeted training can be organised for those who feel they have gaps in certain skills. This guide will help in that regard.

The guide can be read in full here.

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