How to cover budget shortfalls

Reflection – Primary School

What was the issue addressed?
There was an insufficient budget to deliver the curriculum and add value to students learning. This was difficult as staffing had to be cut to achieve a balanced budget and parents were then concerned when TA cover was reduced.

What happened?
We lobbied the Local Authority & Welsh Government. The PTA stepped up to fund raise harder and some grant funding was sought to support delivering the curriculum.

What lessons were learnt?
We only partly supplemented the budget shortfall and there are serious concerns that this method of supporting the budget is not sustainable over the long term.

One of the main roles for the governing body is setting financial priorities for the school and monitoring expenditure against the school’s budget. Whilst funding is allocated on a year-by-year basis (depending on pupil numbers in the main), it is best practice for the governing body and staff at the school to plan the school improvement activities over a three-year period. This will need to be reviewed once the budget has been agreed in May each year. Chapter 8 of The School Governors Guide to the Law provides a useful overview of managing the school’s budget.

Governors Cymru Services also has a guide on school finance which may be helpful. It includes information about the role of the finance committee, linking the budget with the School Development Plan, as well as questions that governors could ask when discussing and evaluating the school’s finances, plus additional reference material.

Applying for grants, receiving sponsorship and the role of the PTA in raising funds for specific purposes is clearly going to help and is very commendable. However, the level of funding raised would undoubtedly change from year to year so whilst incredibly useful, is not always sustainable.

Many schools work in clusters to share ideas and work collaboratively on specific areas. Cluster schools may even share staff, for example, a Business Manager. Has your governing body thought about anything like this?

When faced with a reduced budget, the governing body must look at areas in which they can save finances, hopefully without having to start the statutory redundancy process. However, many schools, sadly, have to face staff redundancy situations and will have a policy to follow for this. It is important though, to consider all other options before going down this route. Your Local Authority will also be able to advise on the processes to follow. There a wealth of useful information available. Here is an example.

This will always be a difficult time for everyone involved so has to be handled sensitively. The headteacher should keep staff up to date on what is happening throughout the process.

ACAS has produced guidance on redundancy procedures and fair procedures but the governing body must follow the steps within their own policy at the school.

Please seek advice from the Local Authority or Diocesan Authority as appropriate, right from the beginning or contact Governors Cymru Services on [email protected]

How has your school managed budget cuts and shortfalls?
What methods has your governing body considered to raise additional funds for the school?

Have your say…
Have you had experiences similar to these?
What do you think about the situation described?

Contact Us

01443 844532 / 029 2075 3685 [email protected]
Sam MacNamara – 07943 887275 / Jane Morris – 07957 969708