It’s no secret that schools, academies and trusts face an onslaught of challenges to balance their budgets. If it’s not a cut in funding, it’s an increase in costs.
Even the most successful educational establishments in the country still have trouble facing the constant financial threats, so how do they manage to stay afloat and escape deficit?
There are a number of ways you can tackle financial challenges, whether this is through additional income, or reducing unnecessary costs.
Generating Additional Income
For academies, your main financial income is allocated by the ESFA, or if you’re a school this will be your local authority. There are not many ways you can influence the funding formula, but this does not stop you from thinking of innovative ways of generating income from elsewhere.
This doesn’t necessarily mean working harder or increasing costs in some areas, but rather focusing on the assets you already have and utilising them more effectively. The following are some examples of how you can use your assets to generate additional income:
Review the school site
Do you have classrooms that aren’t always in use for lessons? Consider hiring them out to local businesses for training events and board meetings.
Do you have a gym or sports hall? You could open these up to the public after school and charge a rental fee.
Staff and equipment
If you’re part of a multi-academy trust then your staff, equipment, suppliers and software can usually be shared between the academies or controlled centrally. If you have staff with specialist skills, share these with other schools within your trust that cannot afford a full-time employee.
For maintained schools and single academies trusts, this can be difficult, but if you communicate with other schools and trusts in your local area, you may be able to discuss a healthy business relationship.
Printing, design and catering services are a great example for generating extra income if you make these services available for local business and schools.
If your site has a large car park and small number of staff you could offer the extra spaces to the public if there is a local event taking place, or if parking is limited elsewhere.
Parents and Pupils
Holding fund raising events is a simple way to generate additional revenue. Parents are often very willing to support their local schools and will volunteer to help or donate if their child is involved.
There are many innovative ways to get parents and pupils involved in fundraising, from spelling bees, quiz nights and auctions to wine tasting, car washes and bake sales. There are hundreds of ways to raise extra money with fun and interesting activities.
Setting up a strong marketing strategy may help you attract more pupils, if you are undersubscribed, therefore increasing the funding you receive from the DfE.
School funding and additional grants
There are a large amount of grants and alternative funding opportunities available for schools, academies and trusts to take advantage of outside of the DfE’s annual funding. Some examples of these are:
- The Condition Improvement Fund (CIF)
- The Strategic School Improvement Fund (SSIF)
- The MAT Development and Improvement Fund
- The Salix Energy Efficiency Fund (SEEF)
- National Lottery Grants
- Additional Capital Grants
Cutting down on costs
When you think of cutting costs, your first instinct may be to review the staffing structure, and even though staffing is one of the highest areas of spend, you don’t necessarily need to make redundancies in the first instance.
When reviewing your budget, it is best practice to benchmark your expenditure against similar schools, academies and trusts to locate potential areas where your spending is higher than the average. Whether there is a reason for this high spend or not, it is best to review so you can make informed decisions.
Outsourcing to the right experts to provide support to your school can reduce the cost of internal full time positions.
If you are part of a multi-academy trust, then you have the benefit of sharing services and staff between your academies or even centralising functions to generate more efficient processes. Centralising your finance and human resource provider or team for example, can not only save you money but also time communicating between schools. Some providers may even offer you a discount for bulk buying for multiple schools.
Finally, it is always best to plan your annual budget as best as you can, and if you need help with that, SAAF Education can help.
We are holding two multi-year financial planning workshops for schools and academies to help you create a three-year plan. This training is available for all PS Budgeting users and you will have the opportunity to forecast multi-year budgets away from the usual interruptions at school.
If you’re interested in attending this training, then click the link below to book your place now.