2 Aims The aims of the day are to: • provide guidance on the requirements of the Schools Financial Value standard (SFVS)• outline the respective roles and responsibilities of the governors and the school’s senior leadership with regard to the financial management of the school• provide opportunities for governors and school business managers to discuss practice within their own schools• encourage sharing practice across schools• promote a value for money in schoolsKey messagesGovernors and SBMs should not view the SFVS as a bureaucratic hoop to jump through, but as a useful tool to assist their financial management of the school and promote value for money (VfM).Guidance notesBriefly outline the aims on the slide.Emphasise that during the day their will be opportunities for governors and SBMs to look inwards and reflect upon what is currently happening within their own school, and to look outwards and hear what is taking place in other schools.
3 Organisation of the day • Work through each section of the standards• Use a light touch on some standards• Focus on the evidence that might be provided by the school• Be flexible and focus on the areas of greatest interest to youKey messagesSome of the 23 separate standards of the SFVS will be more complex than others. We are focusing on those areas which we think might prove most problematic.Guidance notesEncourage participants to have their copy of the SFVS on the table throughout the day and to record thoughts, ideas etc against the relevant standard as they progress. Encourage governors and SBMs from the same school to work closely together throughout the day e.g. in recording key messages, possible sources of evidence for SFVS.
4 Challenges of SFVS With a partner: • working in pairs of schools briefly the biggest challenge the SFVS presents to governors• write this on a Post-it note and place it on the flip chartGuidance notesUse this activity as an ice-breaker. It is suggested that you keep the CoG and SBM from the same school together for this activity.Substitute with an alternative according to needs of group.You may use the challenges participants identify to determine how much time to devote to each standard.After participants have placed their post-its on the flip chart pick out any key themes
5 Overview of SFVS• Completion is a requirement for all maintained schools• Its purpose is to ensure ‘money is spent wisely and properly, and allows schools to optimise their resources to provide high-quality teaching and learning’• It provides a framework for a structured conversation between the governing body and the senior leadership team (SLT)Key messagesIt is easy to get bogged down in the detail of the SFVS. The big picture is that it provides a framework for dialogue between the governing body and the SLT to allow the governing body to carry out its responsibility for the management, deployment and safeguarding of public funds.Guidance notesPoint out that completion is not optionalb) The purpose of the SFVS has been taken from the DfE’s guidance notes.Emphasise the notion of the SFVS process being a conversation with rather than a report to governors. In practice responsibilities for the school’s finances are shared.....although formal responsibility lies with the governing body.Nb: You may wish to point out that from 2011 academies must submit the Financial Management and Governance Evaluation (FMGE) return annually which has similarities to the SFVS return.
6 SFVS - Roles and responsibilities • Governors – formal responsibility for the school’s finances• Governors and SLT – shared responsibility for strategic financial planning• School managers – day-to-day management of the school’s finances• Local authority – should use schools’ SFVS returns to inform their programme of financial assessment and auditTable discussionWhat do you understand to be the difference between ‘strategic’ and‘operational’ activities?Are there any grey areas?Key messagesThe formal responsibility for the school’s finances lies with the governors. Thus in extreme scenarios if ‘things go wrong’ ultimate responsibility lies with the governors. In such circumstances a governing body which had not adopted a rigorous approach to ensuring that their school was complying with the SFVS guidance might find itself exposed.Guidance notesDiscuss the roles and responsibilities of each of the parties:GovernorsHistorically the general distinction between the responsibilities of the governors and the professional staff was that the governors’ role was strategic whilst the professional staff had both strategic and operational responsibilities. In practice determining the boundaries between what is ‘strategic’ and what is ‘operational’ may require teasing out between individual governing bodies and their SLTs.Strategic decision making is carried out by the governing body drawing on proposals from the headteacher….. Operational decisions should be left to the headteacher and his or her staff. School leaders should not be micromanaged and it is up to the chair to ensure that the governing body understands the difference between strategic and operational decision making.This is a theme you may need to return to regularly throughout the day. There is a danger that governors will think that they are responsible for doing everything on the slides.....this is not the case....their responsibility is to ensure that these things are being done.Throughout the day encourage the CoG to discuss with their SBM how confident he or she is that they can give positive responses to the 23 SFVS questions.Local AuthoritiesBelow is an extract from the DfE guidance notes which explains the role of the LA:LAs should use schools’ SFVS returns to inform their programme of financial assessment and audit. LA and other auditors will have access to the standard, and when they conduct an audit can check whether the self-assessment is in line with their own judgement. Auditors should make the governing body and the LA aware of any major discrepancies in judgements.Activity:The suggested table discussion may be a useful way to clarify understandings; this may be particularly beneficial where CoGs are accompanied by their HT/SBM.
7 Detail of SFVS• The SFVS consists of 23 questions which governing bodies should formally discuss annually with the headteacher and SLT• Each question requires an answer of ‘yes’, ‘in part’ or ‘no’– If the answer is ‘yes’, the comments column is used to list the mainevidence on which the governing body based its answer– If the answer is ‘no’ or ‘in part’, the comments column should containa summary of the position and proposed remedial action• When complete - summarise the remedial actions and the timetable for reporting back• The governing body may delegate this to a finance committee, but the chair of governors must sign the form• The school sends a copy of the signed standard to the local authorityGuidance notesThis slides summarises the information in the DfE’s introduction to SFVS. Confirm with the group their understanding of what is required. It may be useful to refer to the actual text (full text is reproduced below). Invite questions from participants.What do schools need to do?The standard consists of 23 questions which governing bodies should formally discuss annually with the headteacher and senior staff.The questions which form the standard are in sections A to D. Each question requires an answer of Yes, In Part, or No.If the answer is Yes, the comments column can be used to indicate the main evidence on which the governing body based its answer.If the answer is No or In Part, the column should contain a very brief summary of the position and proposed remedial action.In Section E, governors should summarise remedial actions and the timetable for reporting back. Governors should ensure that each action has a specified deadline and an agreed owner.The governing body may delegate the consideration of the questions to a finance or other relevant committee, but a detailed report should be provided to the full governing body and the chair of governors must sign the completed form.The school must send a copy of the signed standard to their local authority’s finance department
8 SFVS: Section A The governing body and school staff Guidance notes This session considers section A of the SFVS. Use this slide to outline the approach to be taken.We will mention each standard. In some cases, the reference will be very brief and simply to confirm that participants are comfortable with the requirements. If participants request more time on a specific standard, this will be accommodated.Participants should have their copy of the SFVS with them and make notes as they go through the day.Distribute Resource 1: Sources of evidence for the SFVS.Explain that this can be used as a checklist of possible sources of evidence for SFVS (nb: this is not a DfE document). Recommend that participants complete the grid for their school as they go through the day.
9 SFVS 1-3: Governing body skills 1. In the view of the governing body itself and of senior staff, does the governing body have adequate financial skills among its members to fulfill its role of challenge and support in the field of budget management and value for money?2. Does the governing body have a finance committee (or equivalent) with clear terms of reference and a knowledgeable and experienced chair?3. Is there a clear definition of the relative responsibilities of the governing body and the school staff in the financial field?Key messagesIt is important to emphasise throughout the day that completing the SFVS is a key responsibility of the governing body. This slide presents standards 1-3.Guidance notesThis is a potentially sensitive area as it requires governors to conduct a rigorous self-assessment of their capabilities in this area. Some governors may find the responsibilities they are tasked with as challenging. Use this session to allow governors to voice any concerns and point out that later in this session time will be devoted to discussing how governors might enhance their personal skill levels.Point out that the SLT and governors may not be able to answer these three questions reliably until they have a full understanding of the areas covered by SFVS. Suggest to them that a key first task on their return to school may be to focus on standards 1-3 and to ensuring that their school can answer ‘yes’ to each of the questions.Invite the group to make comments about the 3 questions and the challenges they might bring.
10 Governing body’s financial skills • How do you establish the level of competence on the governing body?• What will do you do to develop the necessary skills in key governors?Key messagesThis is a useful opportunity to review the governing body’s development needs and to take a long-term strategic view of the role of the governing body.Guidance notesAsk participants to work in pairs from the same school for a couple of minutes and to respond to the two questions on the slide.How do you establish the level of competence on the governing body?Some form of audit or self-assessment tool will ensure that this process is carried out rigorously. The DfE has an audit tool which can be used for this purpose, although it may require some adaptation for individual circumstances. This tool is shown on slide 11.What will you do to develop the necessary skills in key governors?An obvious response to this is to provide training for governors. This should lead to the question of who will provide this:-governor services department of the local authority-external training provider-internal training and development provided by the SBMTell participants that we will consider this issue in more detail in a few moments.
11 Governing body value for money health check Why would you use it?How does it work?Are you getting the most out of your governors? Do you think your governing body is helping the delivery of value for money?This checklist will allow you to review the role of governors in your school against best practice and help you identify areas for improvement. Suggestions on how to make simple improvements to the governing body, as well as how to increase support for governors, are included.Key messagesThe DfE has developed a VfM health check which is a useful tool for carrying out a skills audit.Guidance notesThis slide and slides describe the tool and how it might be used. On slide 14 there is a link to an audit tool which SBMs can download and use in their schools. It is suggested that you move quickly and selectively through these slides according to the needs of the group. Do not omit slide 14, however.Note that the VfM health check tool pre-dates the SFVS and you should alert participants to this fact. Many of its questions are generic and therefore it should remain a useful tool.Tool created October – all links to external websites and information cannot be guaranteed after this time.
12 Governing body value for money health check Your governing body and value for moneyThis tool provides general guidance on the financial role of governors. It focuses on key areas, including:The legal frameworkWorking strategically with your governorsGenerating incomeSchool mealsRepairs and maintenanceThere is also a link to our governing body health check (a separate Excel tool) which can help you assess the capabilities of your governors.What is this tool?Guidance notesUse if appropriate to group.October 2010
13 Working with your governors Governors operate at a strategic levelThe School Standards and Framework Act 'The governing body shall exercise their functions with a view to fulfilling a largely strategic role in the running of the school.’A strong governance structure acknowledges that the governors’ role is strategic rather than operational.Governors must be prepared to challenge custom and practice.The checklist will help you to support your governors and ensure they are working at a strategic, rather than operational, level.ChecklistHave you put in place a sensible committee structure with clear terms of reference and standing orders?Do you understand the skills and experience of your governors? Do you ensure their skills and experience are used effectively within the governing structure?Do you develop meeting agendas and supporting papers that focus on strategic issues and use hard evidence upon which to base an evaluation of progress?Do your governors understand what is required of them? Have your governors attended governor training?Does your school have a governors’ induction programme?Do your governors understand their role and value for money? See the governing body health check tool on slide 13 for help with this. You may wish to establish a finance and resources committee for your school.Guidance notesUse if appropriate to group.
14 Governing body health check tool This practical tool helps you assess the capabilities of your governors in key areas:Have the governors developed an agreed vision?Are VfM principles recognised in the school development plan?Has a finance and resources committee been set up?The tool asks you to assess whether the key areas are embedded, improving or not in place.Once you have assessed these areas in your school, you are asked to put in place key actions to help progress effective governance in the key area.Top Tip!You can access the tool here!Guidance notesUse this slide to show participants the governing body health check tool. To do this you must click on the Excel link and have internet access.Invite comments on its potential value to the SFVS and how an SBM might use it.
15 Professional development for governors Possible sources are:• governor services department of the local authority• external advice:– National Governors Association:– Education Act evenuefunding/financeregulations/a /education-act-2005– DfE leadership and governance• internal training/development provided by SBMKey messagesIt is probable that at least some members of the governing body will require some training. The governing body should take a strategic view of those training needs and plan for them.Guidance notesThe slide suggests the most obvious methods available and provides links to relevant sites. Do not take long over this slide. Slide 15 has an activity based upon these ideas.
16 Activity 1: Governor training How will you train your governors? Identify the pros and cons of thestrategy allocated to your group and record on the flip chart:• governors’ away day• online training course• training by SBM (2 hours on the job, once a month for example)• governors’ manual• local authority training programmeGuidance notesDivide the participants into five groups. Allocate each group one/two of the training strategies. Allow 10 minutes for completion of the flip charts. Ask each group to place their completed flip chart in the centre of their table.Ask the groups to rotate round the room clockwise to view the other flip charts.Take general comments from the group about the professional development of governors.
17 Developing governors’ capacity to ask the right questions Working in pairs:Identify one question it would be appropriate for a chair of governors to ask and one question it would not be appropriate to ask.Key messagesGovernors should both ‘challenge and support’ the school’s senior leadership. The focus of this challenge and support should be upon strategic issues.Guidance notesEnd the discussion by emphasising that governors need a particular level of financial understanding which is mainly strategic but also includes understanding of the principles of sound financial management and how to manage public funds responsibly.Thus an important task is to develop their skills in asking the right questions. The governing body may require training to fulfil its role as a critical friend to the school. Governors may need to develop the necessary skills – some may be either reluctant to challenge the SLT, whilst others may be over-zealous.Standard 3 of the SFVS emphasises the importance of having a written document which clearly details the different responsibilities.Ask participants to consider the question on the slide. There are probably no absolutely right or wrong answers (!), but in general it would be appropriate for governors to ask about the total amount of money spent on premises maintenance and what strategies were in place to reduce these costs (challenging the school’s leadership to consider their approach). It would not be appropriate to ask about the level of discount obtained on the purchase of a set of textbooks.
18 SFVS 4: Clear and concise monitoring reports A clear and concise monitoring report will enable the governing body to review income and expenditure against the agreed budget...it should be in an easy to understand format that can be automatically generated from base financial records.Guidance notesInvite the governors present to comment upon the words highlighted in bold in Standard 4. Ask them to define/explain what type of reports they would like to receive from their school’s SBM focussing on the key words highlighted. Invite governors to share examples of good practice.
19 SFVS 5: Register of interests • Does everyone have one?• Are there any problems in getting staff or governors to complete the register of interests?Guidance notesSuggest a light touch is used for standard 5 unless participants raise this as a significant issue for them.
20 SFVS 6: Financial expertise Does the school have access to an adequate level of financialexpertise, including when specialist finance staff are absent, e.g. onsick leave?Discuss with a ‘pair’ from another school:• What do you do in the case of absence?• What could you do?Guidance notesThis is an interesting area highlighted in the SFVS. Spend about 5 minutes on it, but stress that participants may wish to follow this up back at their schools if necessary. Delegates from small primary schools may be particularly interested to hear suggestions. You may wish to use this as an opportunity to raise the issue of clustering and shared arrangements between schools.Invite brief feedback.
21 SFVS 7: Staffing structure SFVS 7 suggests that schools should regularly review their:• staffing structure – balance between teachers, teaching assistants, admin staff, site staff etc• roles and responsibilities of different members of staff• staff skillsGovernors should ask the headteacher to provide them withappropriate information on the school’s staffing structure whensignificant changes are proposed.Key messagesThe majority of school expenditure is upon staffing. This is therefore the biggest area for potential efficiencies and inefficiencies and should be a major focus of any drive to improve VfM.Guidance notesIn this next sequence of slides we are going to explore a number of aspects of school staffing.
22 SFVS 7: Staffing structure – good practice When should the structure be reviewed?• Significant changes to curriculum, pupil numbers, budgetWhat information should be provided?• The staffing structure should identify key roles and responsibilitiesWho should it be available to?• This should be an open document, available to staff, governors and parents via notice boards or websites.Key messages Schools are expected to be open and transparent in providing information about their staffing structure.Guidance notesThe slide is self-explanatory and the information is taken from the Guidance Notes.You may wish to invite brief comments about practice in this area in individual schools.
23 School expenditure Audit Commission, 2011:4 Guidance notes The slide is self-explanatory. This will not be new information to SBMs who will be aware of the significance of staffing within the school’s overall budget; hopefully governors will have a similar level of understanding but it will be worthwhile to emphasise the key statistics in the pie-chart.Both SBMs and governors, however, may be less aware of the need to rigorously evaluate this expenditure and to apply VfM concepts to purchasing staff in the same way as they would to the purchase of equipment, eg a photocopier, and to provide evidence of their evaluations.ReferencesThe source of Figure 1 is Audit Commission, 2011: Better value for money in schools: An overview of school workforce spending, London, Audit CommissionAudit Commission, 2011:4
24 Teacher utilisationEnsuring that teachers spend the greatest amount of time in the classroom, where they add most value, helps schools to achieve value for money. It also helps pupils, with research demonstrating that outstanding teaching has the greatest impact on pupils’ outcomes ... Over half of the secondary school business managers we surveyed believed that schools had scope to improve the utilisation of teachers.Audit Commission, 2011:3Guidance notesThe research quoted is one example of the many surveys drawing attention to the importance of individual teacher effectiveness in raising pupil achievement. Whilst this may seem ‘obvious’ it is important to emphasise it because a number of studies suggest that teachers might be better utilised – thus governors should ask their school’s SLT what steps they are taking to ensure maximum teacher utilisation.ReferencesAudit Commission, 2011, Better value for money in schools: Classroom deployment, London, Audit CommissionHanushek, E A, 2003, The failure of input-based schooling policies, The Economic Journal 113
25 Improving teacher utilisation Key messagesThere is a wide variation in the level of teacher utilisation between schools.Guidance notesTake some time to explain the key messages from this slide and link it to slide 25, which discusses class sizes.The extract below is from Audit Commission (2011) Better value for money in schools: An overview of school workforce spending:Despite overall high teacher utilisation, there is considerable variation across schools, indicating that some schools have scope to increase the time teachers spend in front of classes.■ Teacher utilisation is less than 75 per cent in the lowest quartile of primary schools, but above 88 per cent in the highest quartile.■ In secondary schools, utilisation in the lowest quartile is less than 67 per cent, but above 75 per cent in the highest.Audit Commission, 2001:5The Audit Commission goes on to say that:We have not found a correlation between teacher utilisation and attainment in either primary or secondary schools. We have also not found a link between teacher utilisation and the percentage of pupils eligible for free school meals or with special educational needs. There is also no clear relationship between teacher utilisation and school size. However, school leaders we spoke to suggest larger schools will have greater flexibility to deploy teachers more effectively.The picture is not very clear. There are lots of reasons why schools vary in their levels of teacher utilisation, but if we accept the argument from slide 23 that outstanding teaching has the biggest impact on pupil achievement, what can we do to maximise the time that outstanding teachers spend in classrooms?
26 Teaching assistants Key messages There has been a huge expansion in the number of teaching assistants (TAs) and the amount of money expended upon them. However, the value they add is contested and coming under increasing scrutiny.Guidance notesUse this slide to set the scene for Activity 2 on slide 27. Draw attention to the expansion it illustrates and then ask the group ‘Does your school employ TAs?’ and ‘How do you measure the benefits/impact of your TAs?’ You might ask ‘Are two TAs better value for money than one teacher?’ if you wish to be more provocative.Lead into Activity 2 by distributing Resource 2: Impact of teaching assistants. Ask participants to read Resource 2 (2 minutes) and then take comments. Ask them if the article confirms their personal impressions or if it does not fit with their personal experience.Use the discussion to emphasise the importance of regularly reviewing what may be accepted practices, and in particular the importance of using research and evidence to evaluate cost-effectiveness/VfM etc.
27 Activity 2: Staffing structures The SFVS suggests that schools should regularly review their:• staffing structure – balance between teachers, teaching assistants, admin staff, site staff etc• roles and responsibilities of different members of staff• staff skillsWorking in groups of four:• draw up a list of the types of strategic evidence schools could use to show that they meet this standard• record each suggestion on a Post-it note and place it on the flip chart (5 minutes)Key messagesAn important role for the school’s senior leaders and governors is to challenge how effectively the school uses its staffing.Guidance notesWhen participants have completed the task, invite them to look at the Post-it notes on the flip chart and pick out some examples. Encourage participants to make a note of any useful suggestions that they can use in their own school. Allow 5 minutes for the generation of ideas, and 5 minutes for the discussion and recording that follows.
28 SFVS: Section B Setting the budget Guidance notes This session considers section B of the SFVS. Less time is devoted to this section because it is shorter and it probably raises fewer issues.
29 SFVS 8: Budget and SDP links • Timetables for devising the school development plan (SDP) for raising attainment and standards and the budget should be integrated• Decisions made on budgets and improving pupils’ education outcomes are made in tandem• The same group of staff has responsibility for setting educational priorities for the school and setting the budgetKey messagesThe SDP should drive the allocation of resources by the school. Processes must be integrated.Guidance notesAsk the group ‘Do you believe that your school can respond positively to each of these three statements?’ Take feedback and comments.
30 SFVS 9: Forward planning Do you possess up-to-date information about:• future numbers of pupils and their characteristics?• class and group sizes?• staffing profiles and increments?• pay and price increases?• changes in revenue and capital income?• procurement and maintenance (eg, fabric and fittings, ICT equipment, whiteboards)?Key messagesStandard 9 emphasises the importance of forward planning.Guidance notesThe slide lists the key data schools should have to assist them with their forward planning. Ask the group to suggest other types of data that might be useful.Use this slide to lead into Activity 3 on slide 31. For Activity 3, you will need to prepare a flip chart that duplicates the table in Resource 3: Crystal ball.
31 Activity 3: Crystal ball Working in pairs, complete Resource 3 (10 minutes).Guidance notesAsk participants to work in pairs from the same school. Distribute Resource 3: Crystal ball, which explains Activity 3. Introduce this by pointing out that whilst there are no right or wrong answers, they are being asked to use their professional judgement and to give sound advice. They should be able to justify their assumptions by references to their knowledge of the current state of public sector financing, economic trends etc.Allow 10 minutes for completion of Activity 3.When the pairs have completed Activity 3, invite one pair to tell the group their forecasts. Record these on the prepared flip chart then open up a discussion about:the forecasts on the flip chartthe challenges of forecastingthe importance of forecasting to forward planningDraw attention to the fact that in the current economic climate (2012/13) the best-case scenario may actually be unappealing. Stress the importance of not confusing best-case scenario with an expanding/growing scenario.
32 SFVS 10 & 11: Budget planning and reporting • Does the school set a well-informed and balanced budget each year (with an agreed and timed plan for eliminating any deficit)?• Is the end-year out-turn in line with budget projections, or if not, is the governing body alerted to significant variations in a timely manner, and do these variations result from explicitly planned changes or from genuinely unforeseeable circumstances?Key messagesIt is important for governors to discuss and agree their expectations with regard to these 2 standards with the school’s senior leadership team.Guidance notesA ‘well-informed budget’ is one which takes account of the best available information on all variables, such as pupil numbers and staffing changes (Extract from SFVS).Governors should expect to be provided with more than a balance sheet – they should receive a commentary which explains the rationale, key assumptions, and key data that have led to the construction of the budget. Link this back to the previous activity.Draw attention to the need for governors to raise questions about significant budget variations and to seek explanations for these variances and for the reasons to be documented.
33 SFVS: Section C Value for money Key messages Public sector services are likely to be under the microscope with regard to value for money for many years to come. Governors and SBMs will know this, but it is still worth reinforcing. In recent years the education sector has been criticised for its inefficiency by external organisations e.g. The Audit Commission.Guidance notes Introduce section C and refer to Valuable Lessons (Audit Commission, 2009). The summary within that document highlights a number of key messages:Education expenditure per pupil increased by two-thirds in a decade – up to 2009.Schools have weak incentives to be economical and efficient.schools could save over £400 million through better procurement alone.Workforce deployment is the most important decision in schools and must be undertaken with economy and efficiency in mind.Many schools have excessive balances, of which over £500 million could be released nationally.There are many ways schools can save money without adversely affecting children’s education.Whilst conditions have changed since the publication of this report, the conclusions of the report have influenced the policies of the current and previous governments.Also highlight the government’s agenda to make schools’ financial data publicly available (discussed later).
34 Best ValueBest value schemes require governing bodies to demonstrate, in theirannual budget plan, that they have followed Best Value principles indrawing up that plan by:• Keeping under review the quality of services being provided by external agencies• Comparing the overall cost and offer with that of other providers• Challenging existing assumptions about the range, value and necessity of existing services• Being prepared to negotiate hard over contractual conditions(DfE: Governing Body Health Check, 2010)Key messagesGoverning Bodies are not under a direct duty to secure Best Value (but Local Authorities are). Governing Bodies should have value for money policies.Guidance notesEmphasise that it is the governors’ responsibility to ensure that the school has a best value culture, supported by appropriate systems and processes – it is not their responsibility to get involved in the detail of negotiating contracts etc.
35 The three components of value for money DefinitionExampleEconomyMinimising the costs of resources used for a good, service or activityAre school supplies purchased at the best available price?EfficiencyThe relationship between outputs and the resources used to produce themDo the school timetable arrangements make best use of teachers?EffectivenessThe extent to which objectives have been achievedTo what extent has the deployment of staff raised attainment?Key messagesValue for money is not just about the cheapest option.Guidance notesThis should be familiar to SBMs but governors may have lower levels of awareness.It is important to establish a basic level of understanding of these concepts as they lie at the heart of this section in the SFVS.
36 How can your school improve its VfM? The SFVS identifies six potential areas:• Benchmarking, i.e. using data and information to support better decision-making (SFVS 12)• procedures for purchasing good and services (SFVS 13)• financial plans for balances or deficits (SFVS 14)• management of buildings and assets (SFVS 15)• collaborating with other schools (SFVS 16)• reporting on impact and improvements resources have made (SFVS 17)Guidance notesIndicate that this session will cover all six aspects related to the SFVS. Remind participants that each standard has detailed notes attached to it and they should download and read these notes.
37 SFVS 12: Does the school benchmark its income and expenditure against that of similar schools ? What is benchmarking?Benchmarking is the process of comparing income and expenditure in detail with that of similar schools to consider whether and how your school can use resources better and identify where changes can be made.Compare.comKey messagesThe government now releases details of how schools spend their budgets – and this information may be accessed by any member of the public. The SLT and governors may find their financial decision-taking coming under increasing scrutiny by parents and members of their local community.Guidance notesInvite the group to comment on the financial information that is now available in the public domain.If you click on the link on the slide this will take you to the DfE comparison website which allows the public to compare, among other things, school spending (it is suggested that you populate the link with data in advance using data from 4/5 schools).Ask the group to consider this question: Does this data provide a guide to value for money?Use this slide to lead into the Activity 4 on slide 38.
38 Activity 4: Benchmarking Working in small groups, study the information on Resource 4 anddecide:• what questions you might ask if you were a parent at your designated school• which school is providing the best value for moneyKey messagesComparative financial information is now in the public domain. Parents may ask governors about their school’s expenditure patterns, so governors, advised by the SLT, need to be able to explain their approach to spending. Schools must benchmark regularly to be able to answer these questions.Guidance notesDivide participants into five groups (it is recommended that the groups do not contain individuals from the same school) and distribute Resource 4: Comparing value for money in schools. Allocate each group a different school (eg, group 1 focuses on school A, group 2 focuses on school B etc). Allow a total of 15 minutes for Activity 4.When the 15 minutes are over, ask each group in turn to spend 1 min outlining their conclusions. Lead into a whole-group discussion on the issues raised.Encourage participants to explore the complexities of evaluating value for money between schools. Participants may shy away from making decisions about which school offers the best value, but challenge them to deal with the issue.
39 Activity 5: Sharing good practice Schools should use benchmarking as a contributing factor to:• planning and managing the budget• identifying areas and setting targets to improve the use of resources• achieving VfM in expenditure and improving its effectiveness to raise performance• delivering educational services to a defined standardIn groups of 3 schools, take one of the factors and discuss how yourschools are currently using benchmarking.Prepare a flip chart with examples of good practice.Key messagesAs part of Activity 5, emphasise the need to share practice and also to identify good examples that other colleagues might use.Guidance notesAllow 10 minutes for discussion and preparation of the flip chart. Allow 5 minutes for the whole group to view the gallery of flip charts.Background informationSchools can benchmark their performance using the following:schools financial benchmarking website (https://sfb.teachernet.gov.uk/login.aspx) - this website holds data for all maintained schools. Encourage participants to share their experiences of using the sitelocal authority benchmarking arrangementsvoluntary inter-school arrangements. This can be very useful for schools in same local authority, operating under similar funding regimesNb: You may wish to ask about opportunities for local authority maintained schools to benchmark their activities against academies.The schools financial benchmarking website (Nb: This site is password protected and contains more detailed information, based on CFR returns, than is available from the public site) is available to help schools in self-management and improving efficiency through financial benchmarking. There are over 20,000 school records available on the site to enable financial comparisons and to help schools to challenge how they spend money. Benchmarking can be used to identify significant differences in the way schools manage their resources. Through comparison with other schools' spending and patterns of service, schools can determine whether there is scope for doing things better: improving efficiency, reducing costs or identifying the potential scope for savings. Financial benchmarking in schools is about more than just effectively managing the budget. It is about achieving value for money so that resources are applied to best effect. This means more than just picking the cheapest option. Financial benchmarking can help schools to challenge the way they do things. Better use of finite resources can have a direct impact on educational outcomes. The role of headteachers and school business managers is crucial. They can encourage other schools to use the schools financial benchmarking website. They can also involve frontline managers and staff in seeking out and implementing change. With strong leadership and support, schools can achieve measurably good outcomes from benchmarking their expenditure.
40 SFVS 13: ProcurementDoes the school understand and follow all legal requirements?‘£400m savings are possible from improved procurement of goods andservices’ (Audit Commission, 2009, Valuable Lessons)Do the school’s procurement processes ensure they achieve VfM?Key messagesIt is essential that governors and SBMs (a) understand the legal framework within which they must operate, and (b) establish effective procurement processes within their schools.Guidance notesProcurement describes the whole process of identifying the goods and services a school needs to meet its objectives, and covers deciding how to acquire these, choosing the best supplier, receiving goods, managing contracts and paying for the purchased goods or services. Procurement procedures are needed to ensure that every purchase is managed in the most effective and appropriate way.
41 The legal framework European rules UK rules Contract (LA) standing ordersSchool standing ordersKey messagesThe procurement activities of public sector organisations are heavily regulated. Schools must understand the legal framework and/or know where to go for advice if in doubt.Guidance notesSBMs must be mindful of the legal framework surrounding procurement by public sector bodies. These are listed below.Check that everyone in the group is comfortable with their understanding of the legal framework. If they are, move on, and if not, allow some discussion and direct participants to the weblink below and on the slide for further information. If appropriate you can use the link to take you to the DfE website and briefly show participants the advice it contains (it is very comprehensive).Background informationSchools are subject to European rules, but this applies only to large purchases.Schools must abide by UK statute law.Schools must know, understand and follow their local authority’s contract standing orders (or similarly titled document), which will guide them on any UK laws they must comply with.Schools’ internal financial standing orders may provide additional detail which must be followed by members of staff from that school.This extract from the DfE website summarises the DfE’s overall approach:For contracts below the EU procurement threshold, maintained schools should follow their [local authority’s] contract procedure rules as set out in their scheme for financing schools and other guidance. This may specify thresholds above which a particular number of quotes or tenders should be sought.’(Source:
42 Purchasing processDfE has developed guidelines for schools according to the value oftransaction:• low value – e.g. under £10,000• medium value – e.g. £10,000 to £40,000• high value – e.g. over £40,000 but below EU threshold• purchases with a value above the EU thresholds (above £156,442 for goods and services, above £3,927,260 for works) must use the OJEU tendering processNB: The figures for low/medium/high are typical values that might befound in standing orders etc.Key messagesUsing a process map is one way the school can help to ensure that its purchasing processes meet any statutory requirements and facilitate good value for money.Guidance notesIt is essential that SBMs and governors are aware of the limits specified within any regulations their school must comply with. The definition of ‘low’, ‘medium’, and ‘high’ will vary between schools and local authorities.Ask participants if they are aware of the various limits for their schools and to comment upon their appropriateness (too high, too low etc).Distribute Resources 5a and 5b: DfE Purchasing Process Map. Explain that there are 4 process maps available, one for each of the four levels. We will consider the ‘low’ and ‘medium’ process maps as these are the categories of purchases that schools engage in most frequently. Allow participants a couple of minutes to read the flow charts then lead into Activity Six on the next slide.
43 Activity 6: How effective are your procurement processes? • Working in pairs evaluate your school’s current practice against that recommended by the DfE. Using Resources 5a and 5b.• Then complete Resource 6 and use this to determine the strengths and weaknesses of your school’s procurement processes.• Share your findings with a pair from another school and discuss how you might improve the areas of weakness.Guidance notesDistribute Resource 6: Procurement self-assessment whilst participants are engaged in the first past of the activity.Allow 7/8 minutes for the completion of parts 1 and 2 of the task, and 7/8 minutes for discussion. Encourage participants to produce practical recommendations that would improve systems within their schools. There is no need for group feedback.Highlight that more information and useful resources are available for each of these questions: see Audit Commission [online] Managing school resources self-assessment (www.schoolresources.audit-commission.gov.uk/(S(eqfdfmiimdoewmbohlezkbyn))/questions.aspx?section=1).
44 Key issues related to procurement Achieving savings from procurement requires a thorough understandingof four elements:• how well the goods or services meet the needs of the school• the market for the particular goods or service• the purchasing process• how to use goods and services efficientlyGuidance notesThe slide is self-explanatory and links to the next slide. Briefly highlight the key points.
45 What governors should expect their SBM to be doing! • shopping around – use competition to encourage established suppliers to offer better value deals• doing the research – knowing about the products as well as the suppliers helps you make informed choices• getting expert advice for specialist purchases – it may be good value to pay for professional help with complex procurement (e.g. ICT)• using frameworks – lists of suppliers who have overarching agreements with public bodies• reviewing existing contracts and lease arrangements to make sure they are in line with DfE policy and guidance• thinking creatively – is there a better way of meeting the objective than buying outright?Key messagesSchools can improve their procurement practices, and therefore achieve greater value for money, by adopting a professional approach to procurement.Guidance notesThe advice on the slide is self-explanatory.Ask participants to comment on the suggestions: How easy is it to follow this advice in practice? What is their experience of framework agreements? How successful have they been in negotiating better deals? Etc.
46 SFVS 14: The level of balances Are balances at a reasonable level and does the school have a clear planfor using the money it plans to hold in balances at the end of each year?£530m could be released nationally from schools’ excess balances.Audit Commission, 2009Key messagesSchools must keep their balances within guidelines, and must have strategic plans for using any balances they retain.Guidance notesThe policy with regard to school balances is under review by the DfE. The latest position is summarised below:At present local authorities are able to claw back surplus balances for maintained schools where they exceed “excessive surplus” thresholds, and are uncommitted (i.e. not set aside for a specific reason as detailed in the local authority’s scheme for financing schools). The thresholds are 5% of income (for secondary schools), or 8% of income (for primary, nursery, and special schools). However, the Government has removed the requirement for local authorities to have a clawback mechanism, so some may choose not to. This means that some schools should be able to save as much as they are able to, without the risk of clawback.The rules around balances and the thresholds above which balances are deemed excessive are currently under review (see section 7) and may change for 2012 onwards (Extract from SFVS Guidance notes).ReferencesAudit Commission, 2009, Valuable Lessons, London, Audit Commission
47 SFVS 15: Maintenance of school premises and assets Key messagesSchools should plan for the maintenance of their premises and assets.Guidance notesUse this slide and the notes below to introduce this topic.The key benefits of maintaining school premises and assets to an adequate standard are that this will (list below reproduced from SFVS):ensures school premises are kept in good working order and continue to be available to meet users’ needsmake best use of the premises so that they provide a safe school environment for learningreduce the needs for urgent replacement which is likely to be more expensivereduce the risk of schools needing to close for urgent health and safety worksmaximise value for the public purse by reducing the need for premises to be replaced early due to the lack of a co-ordinated asset management plan
48 Asset management plans Asset management plans are key elements in ensuring that capitalfunding and existing assets are used as efficiently and effectivelyas possible in raising educational standards. (SFVS 15)An asset management plan should include:• a strategy for developing, adapting and eventually replacing buildings, which is part of the school’s overall planning for the delivery of education• a costed maintenance programmeKey messagesThe governors should ensure that the school has an asset management plan which is costed and regularly updated.Guidance notesCheck with the group who is familiar with the concept of an asset management plan, which schools have them etc.Asset management plans are necessary to facilitate:school priorities in the context of the SDP, and making clear what outputs, either physical or educational, will be achieved in meeting those prioritiesresponsible custodianship of the premisesplanning, budgeting and making projects for which they are responsible, including those in foundation and voluntary-aided schools, those covered by devolved or formula funding and those that are self-financed, in line with the asset management plancarrying out monitoring of service delivery
49 Asset management planning in schools Key message in the standards: Asset management is a skilled, professional activity....there is anecdotal evidence that suggests many schools adopt, at best, a reactive maintenance approach rather than investing more in planned, preventative maintenanceJames Review, 2011:67Key messagesSchools should be careful not to underestimate the level of professional expertise necessary for effective asset management.Guidance notesThe following extract is reproduced from the DfE’s SFVS Guidance notes. Select key points according to the group.Expertise in schoolsSchools have widely differing levels of in-house property skills. Smaller schools, in particular, may not have access to a high level of experience. A large school is more likely to benefit from a combination of:• a site manager, with building industry skills or experience, who can effectively control building work on-site;• an experienced SBM with a high level of contract management and financial skills; and• school governors with a professional building background.Access to external skillsSchools need access to good-quality technical skills to assist them with building management and they need to be able to choose the best method for securing the support. Building up the level of expertise in every single school is not a cost-effective solution and so there will be a need to purchase external skills. The skills that they need to access include:• understanding the school asset management planning information that they receive;• translating this into a long-term investment plan based on a realistic view of the resources available;• negotiating with the [local authority] where there is a shortage of resources;• identifying and joining up funding streams with the help of the [local authority] ; design and management skills for major projects;contract management skills and access to skilled contractors for smaller projects; andarranging contracts for the service of plant operations and equipment.In the move towards increased delegation, the requirement for these skills has at times been under-estimated. It can be too easy to assume that personal experience of building works on domestic projects can be translated into the higher-level contracting skills necessary for managing complex contracts on large public buildings. Schools need to consider the resources that they should spend in obtaining these services and skills. There is a difficult balance to be reached between cost and the quality of the service that they obtain.
50 Asset management planning • Condition surveys focus on the physical state of building elements and provide a basis for developing planned maintenance programmes• Suitability surveys how well the existing premises meet the needs of pupils, teachers, and other users• Sufficiency surveys assessments focus on total areas and on the quantity and organisation of pupil places within and across schools in relation to demandQuestion: Does your school have an asset management plan whichis updated annually and provided to governors for their approval?Key messagesEffective asset management planning involves regular surveys of the premises.Guidance notesThe focus of standard 15 is on condition, but good asset and facilities management involves all three types of survey listed on the slide.Condition assessments focus on the physical state of building elements and provide a basis for developing planned maintenance programmes.Suitability is defined as how well the existing premises meet the needs of pupils, teachers, and other users, and contribute towards raising standards of education. Suitability assessments deal with size and type of internal and external areas, health and safety aspects and wheelchair access.Sufficiency assessments focus on total areas and on the quantity and organisation of pupil places within and across schools in relation to demand. These are often carried out by local authorities to determine their strategic priorities but the principles apply equally to individual schools.Lead into Activity 7 on the next slide.
51 Activity 7: Asset management planning • Working in pairs from the same school, complete the table in Resource 7: Condition surveys (5 minutes).• How difficult did you find Activity 7?Guidance notesDistribute Resource 7: Condition surveys and ask participants to complete the table (maximum 5 minutes) – they should apply the question to their school. When they have finished, ask them how difficult or easy it was for them to complete the table with confidence.Note that not all of the categories in Resource 8 will apply to all schools.
52 SFVS 16: Collaboration with others Collaboration is:• sharing resources – expertise, advice and knowledge as well as tangible resources such as equipment or staff• buying goods, works or services togetherKey messagesSharing valuable skills and knowledge makes procurement more effective, helping schools to learn from the experience of their peers and avoiding the repetition of mistakes made in similar situations.Guidance notesSharing costly resources can be particularly effective if several schools can agree a rota to use a resource. Collaborative procurement offers opportunities to leverage a good-value deal from the combined buying power that no individual school would have.
53 Collaboration in schools takes different forms • Informal networks• Geographical clusters• Sharing personnel• Soft/hard federationKey messagesIt is implied within the SFVS that schools will have explored opportunities and potential benefits from collaboration with other educational providers.Guidance notesMany SBMs will be familiar with the notion of partnership working but it will be useful, nevertheless, to briefly remind them of the models of collaboration that have emerged during the last decade.Show the National College video of an SBM (Nina Siddle) talking about the benefits of working collaboratively.Invite participants to share their experiences of collaborative working.Background informationInformal networks, allowing headteachers, SBMs and staff to share knowledge and information, are commonplace. Many of these groups discuss the availability, price and quality of local suppliers, which can raise awareness of economical purchasing options.Geographical clusters can deliver savings. Schools and partner public bodies can improve their understanding of the needs in an area, and their ability to fulfil those needs jointly.While there may be increased costs through federation (eg, increased travel and integration of computer systems) there can also be significant cost savings, for example by:making a broader curriculum more cost-effectivemaking joint appointmentsachieving economies of scale, for example by aggregating purchasingmaking savings on planning and administrative
54 Activity 8: Collaboration In table groups, take one of the following questions:• To what extent has your school considered buying goods and services, or carrying out joint training with other schools?• Has your school reviewed opportunities to share teaching or non-teaching staff with other schools to save money?• Has your school reviewed opportunities to share specialist staff skills between local schools?• Has your school reviewed the costs and benefits of federation or clustering with other schools to achieve possible economies of scale?Discuss experiences you have had in this area and also the implications andconsequences of your school moving forward within this area. Be prepared tofeed back key messages to the whole group.Guidance notesExplain Activity 8 and allow the groups 10 minutes to discuss their question. Then record the key findings from each group on a flip chart and invite comments (5 minutes).Emphasise that these are questions that the governors should be raising with the school’s SLT. It is not the governors responsibility to instigate or facilitate the actions suggested on the slide.
55 SFVS 17: Can the school give examples of where it has improved the use of resources during thepast year?Examples could be:• buying goods or services more cheaply without any loss of quality• reorganising an area of work within the school to improve productivity• switching resources towards a particular school priority such as improving attainment in a subject• using staff time more effectively by having support staff take over appropriate tasks from teachers• gaining extra income from additional lettings of the school buildings• sharing services with another school or schoolsKey messagesSchools should be able to identify improvements and be able to quantify them. They should aim to be able to do this every year.Guidance notesBriefly outline the key points on the slide, asking participants for one or two examples. Use this slide to lead into Activity 9 on slide 56.
56 Activity 9: The four Ps of improvement Reflect on improvements in the use of resources in your school last year.Write down each improvement on a Post-it note and estimate thevalue of the improvement (eg, monetary or pupil outcomes).Decide which of the four categories your improvement comes underand place your Post-it note on the appropriate flip chart.– purchasing– productivity– personnel– propertyGuidance notesPlace four flip charts in the four corners of the room. Each flip chart should have one of the four Ps as its heading.The task is self-explanatory. Use Activity 9 as a way of stimulating ideas and sharing practice about the types of evidence the school could generate for SFVS 17. Divide participants into pairs from the same school.Allow 5-6 minutes for the task then walk the group around the four flip charts. Focus the discussion not only on the sorts of evidence available but on the measurement of improvements. This will be easier for some items than for others but suggest to the group that this is a useful discipline. For example, if the school site management team has been reorganised and it is claimed this this has resulted in greater productivity, how do we know? Possible responses might be:now use less staff therefore can identify financial savingsschool now open longer at no extra cost, so greater output from same resourcereduced maintenance bills because site management team does more repairs in-house
57 SFVS: Section D Protecting public money Guidance notes This session considers section D of SFVS and focuses on the protection governors should expect to see in place if public funds are to be properly safe-guarded.
58 How can your school demonstrate effective guardianship of public monies?The SFVS identifies six areas to help you reflect on your effectivenessin this area:• responding to audit reports• arrangements to guard against fraud• implementation of a whistle-blowing policy• consistent financial reporting (CFR) and accurate reporting to governors• arrangements for the audit of voluntary funds• business continuity planningGuidance notesThis is simply an abbreviated summary of section D. Explain that although each area will be covered within this workshop, activities will focus on two or three of the main areas.
59 SFVS 18: Responding to audit reports Is the governing body sure there are no outstanding matters fromaudit reports or from previous consideration of weaknesses by thegoverning body?Good practice• Schools should have a clear system for recording outstanding matters• Schools should establish a list of issues to be addressed and a timetable for addressing them• Each action should be assigned to a named personGuidance notesThis is self-explanatory and reproduced from the SFVS support notes. We suggest a light touch is used. Invite the group to raise queries.There may be variances according to differences in local authority practices.
60 SFVS 19: Safeguards against fraud, theft Are there adequate arrangements in place to guard against fraud or theft by staff, contractors and suppliers (please note any instances of fraud or theft detected in the last 12 months)?Guidance notesStandard 19 is very much aimed at providing evidence of robust systems of control to guard against the fraudulent use of school funds and assets.The school is required to not only establish rigorous systems of control but also identify how it intends to guard against malpractice. If poor practice is identified, the school will need to state how it will respond and what actions it will take to rectify the situation.Schools manage substantial sums of public money and consequently need to safeguard these funds. Local authorities will take strong action against schools which do not make efforts to guard against fraud.
61 It does happenGuidance notesClick on the link (www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article /Headteacher-stole special-school-fraud-fund-extravagant-lifestyle.html) to access an example of a headteacher found guilty of defrauding his school. You may wish to draw attention to the reference to the school’s administrative assistant (who was not guilty of anything) and point out the difficulties junior staff may face when senior colleagues act inappropriately.Ask the group to consider the pressures on junior staff in these types of situation and how they might support them and make it easier to come forwards with information.Lorenne Shackleton, administrative assistant, told the court that Davis also invoiced the school, which caters for about 30 boys, aged between 11 and 15 with emotional and behavioural difficulties, for work to convert a garage at the property into a classroom.She told the court that she asked Davis which budget should pay for the renovations and added: "He told me to be creative, to find any part of the budget that could pay for it."She said Davis and his girlfriend moved into the property, which was partly used to teach one or two children on a one-to-one basis a few times a week.
62 Activity 10: Protecting against fraud • What types of fraud might occur in your school?• Working in pairs, spend 5 minutes completing Resource 8 Guarding against the fraudulent use of fundsGuidance notesThe purpose of Activity 10 is to raise participants’ awareness of the breadth of fraud that may occur in a school.Distribute Resource 8: Guarding against the fraudulent use of funds. Allow the pairs 5 minutes to complete Activity 10, then take feedback from the whole group and ask participants to note any action points for their schools.
63 Good practice in fraud prevention Features of good control systems are:• financial management checks• separation of duties• strictly limited access to systems• spot checks on systems and transactions• investigation of every incident of irregularity• careful pre-employment checks• staff responsibilities made clearGuidance notesFollowing Activity 10, use this slide to remind participants about good practice in this area:financial management checks, reconciling accounts at the end of each month and keeping an audit trail of documentsseparation of duties so that no one member of staff is responsible for both validating and processing a transaction, for example certifying that goods have been received and making the payment for themstrictly limited access to systems for authorising and making paymentsspot checks on systems and transactions to help identify new risks and measure the effectiveness of existing controls - it also indicates to staff that fraud prevention is a high priorityinvestigation and logging of every incident of irregularity, including instances of attempted fraudcareful pre-employment checks on staff who will have financial responsibilitiesmaking staff members’ financial responsibilities clear through written job descriptions and desk instructions
64 SFVS 20: Whistle-blowing Are all staff aware of the school’s whistle-blowing policy and to whom they should report their concerns?The official definition of whistle-blowing is ‘making a disclosure in the public interest’.Key messagesThere will always be some potential for fraud but an effective, well-publicised whistle-blowing policy can help to reduce its incidence.Guidance notesPose the question on the slide to the group, linking this to the example of a headteacher who defrauded his school.Ask participants how confident they are that all staff know the whistle-blowing policy, and more importantly how confident are they that their staff feel comfortable invoking the policy.Background informationStatutory guidance for local authorities 2011–12 notes:‘Whistleblowing’ Schemes should contain a provision requiring authorities to set out in the scheme the procedure to be followed by persons working at a school or school governors who wish to complain about financial management or financial propriety at the school, and how such complaints will be dealt with.
65 Good practice • The school must have a whistle-blowing policy in place • Staff must have someone trustworthy to report their concerns to• All staff must be aware of the whistle-blowing policyGuidance notesLead a discussion on these main points.The school must have a whistle-blowing policy in placeAll schools should have a whistle-blowing policy in place and governing body minutes should record that they do. For maintained schools, this policy should be based on the local authority policy (which applies to all schools within their remit) and should be tailored as appropriate for the particular school.The school staff must have someone trustworthy to report their concerns toThe governing body should agree one or more members of the school’s staff whom staff can report concerns to. Also, maintained schools should make known to staff one or more people at the local authority whom staff can report concerns to if they feel a need to go outside the school.All staff must be aware of the whistle-blowing policyIf staff are not currently aware of the whistle-blowing policy, they should be informed about it and it should be made available for all to see. In particular, they should be made aware of the:protection that is available to all members of staff (including temporary staff and contractors)areas of malpractice and wrongdoing that are coveredroutes available within the school and the local authority for raising concerns
66 SFVS 21: Accounting systems Does the school have an accounting system that is adequate andproperly run and delivers accurate reports, including the annualconsistent financial reporting (CFR) return?Guidance notesProvide brief background information about this area. As CFR has been in place for some years it is likely that the majority of SBMs will be familiar with the requirements, but governors may not be.Ask the SBMs in the group to explain CFR to their Chair of Governors, and to outline any challenges involved in providing this data.Background informationThe following information is taken from the DfE website (www.education.gov.uk/schools/adminandfinance/financialmanagement/goodpractice/a /school-accounts)Maintained schools are not obliged to publish accounts as such but are required to submit a return, via their local authority (LA), as part of the Consistent Financial Reporting (CFR) regulations introduced in April This information is used to populate our Schools’ Financial Benchmarking website and to pre-populate the Section 251 outturn statements. In January 2011, for the first time, the Department published all schools’ CFR data as part of the Coalition Government’s data transparency agenda.All maintained schools are required to follow financial reporting procedures laid down by their LA in their scheme for financing schools (made under section 48 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998) and associated local documentation.These will stipulate what information the school is obliged to supply to the LA about spending from its delegated budget and other funds received from the authority. It is for the school to decide how to comply with those requirements in terms of the internal systems needed to produce the data, whether to use particular software, whether to purchase accounting services from the LA and so on. All schools should have accounting systems that allow them to properly record and monitor expenditure throughout the year.
67 SFVS 22: Voluntary fundsDoes the school have adequate arrangements for the audit of voluntaryfunds?• Voluntary funds should be audited annually• Funds should be audited by a qualified accountant; very small funds could be audited by a suitable individual familiar with the principles of accountancy rather than necessarily a qualified accountantKey messagesAlthough voluntary funds are likely to be very small in relation to revenue funding, it is still essential that schools demonstrate probity in managing such funds. Private funds should be treated in exactly the same way as public funds, ie robust auditing to ensure there is no misuse of this area of funding.Guidance notesThe key points on the slide are self-explanatory. You may wish to allow a couple of minutes for the CoG and SBM to discuss practice within their school and then invite any questions for clarification.Background informationVoluntary funds should be audited annually and the audit should be completed within three months of the end of each financial year. All funds should be audited by an independent person who is not associated with the fund in any other way.Funds should be audited by a qualified accountant who will provide a certificate in accordance with published professional standards. However, very small funds could be audited by a suitable individual familiar with the principles of accountancy rather than necessarily a qualified accountant.
68 SFVS 23: Business Continuity Plans It’s a typical Monday morning. The site manager calls to say two-thirds of the school burnt down over the weekend, 67 per cent of the staff report sick with swine flu and the ICT manager tells you that all of the school’s systems, curriculum and administration, are down with a mystery virus ... send for the BCP.Key messagesIn the guidance notes to SFVS, great emphasis is placed on the need for schools to have a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) and the need for schools to keep functioning in adverse circumstances.Guidance notesExplain to the group that there is an expectation that schools will have plans in place to deal with adverse events and conditions. The examples on the slide have all occurred, although they are relatively rare. What is less rare is snow, and the dramatic impact this has had on schools in recent winters.
69 Responding to incidents Guidance notesThere are some mis-conceptions about business continuity planning so it is important to establish whether or not participants fully understand the purpose and contents of a BCP. The SFVS guidance notes state:A business continuity or disaster recovery plan sets out how the school would cope if some disaster happened – for example, the premises burning down or flooding, a large-scale theft of equipment or a total failure of the school’s IT system.Whilst the need to activate a BCP may arise from a critical incident, a BCP is not about the immediate response, but focuses on how the school will keep delivering its core service. The flow diagram on the slide illustrates where the BCP fits within the picture bigger of responding to incidents.The purpose of the BCP is to ensure that the school will be able to resume business as soon as possible following a disastrous occurrence.Reproduced by kind permission of Manchester City Council
70 Activity 11: It’s a red alert so we need… In groups of four, draw up a BCP for onemember of the group’s school in one of theseareas:• Major fire that renders over half the school’s classrooms unusable for the foreseeable future• Loss of ICT resources for minimum one week• Flu epidemic resulting in over 40 per cent of staff unable to attend• Snow that prevents staff but not pupils getting to school (assume the number of staff affected has gone beyond the critical mass)Guidance notesDivide participants into groups of four. Allocate each group one of the four scenarios on the slide. Distribute Resource 9: Drawing up a Business Continuity Plan which contains background information on business continuity planning and an extract from Manchester City Council’s BCP guidance to its schools. Allow 2-3 minutes for participants to skim the document. Then distribute Resource 10: Business continuity planning, which explains Activity 11.Each group should agree which participant’s school they will focus on. Preferably they will choose a school that doesn’t have a BCP.Allow 15 minutes for completion of the BCP. Then ask the participant whose school is the focus of the plan to outline the BCP to the group. Take questions then suggest participants make notes in their SFVS files.
71 SFVS: Plenary Guidance notes Use the plenary to deal with any outstanding issues.Refer back to the Post-it notes produced during the introductory session and check that the challenges identified have been covered.Refer to Resource 1: Sources of evidence for the SFVS and ask participants if they have found this helpful. Can they suggest additional sources of evidence?
72 Key questions • What do governors need to do next? • What does the school’s management team need to do next?Spend 5 minutes discussing the actions you need to take when youreturn to school.Guidance notesUse this slide to remind participants that they should commit to action following today’s event.