Understanding school budgets better

Reflection – Primary School

What was the issue addressed?
Every year there is confusion as to what is and isn’t covered in budget headings by LMS (Local management of schools). This lack of knowledge makes budgetary management difficult. Too often governors are nodding things through. Even the leadership team of the school are lacking confidence and knowledge to challenge.

What happened?
To date we haven’t done enough to be frank. We have a new LMS manager so we are using this as an opportunity to forge a more productive relationship. We have committed to gaining a systematic knowledge of the process.

What lessons were learnt?
It is early stages but it has set the tone for moving forward productively. We recognise the importance of understanding the budget better.

The governing body plays a strategic role in the financial management of the school, ensuring the school’s financial resources are utilised in support of improving learner outcomes in the most efficient and effective way.

In this example, the governing body clearly recognises the need to improve their knowledge and understanding of how the budget works, which will in turn help governors to develop their accountability and strategic roles and not ‘nod things through.’ The commitment to developing this area of work is commendable. Developing a good working relationship with the new LMS officer is clearly a good starting point.

Does your governing body have a finance committee? This is a good way of utilising any specific financial expertise that governors may have and it is often easier with a smaller group to discuss and get to grips with the budget, as well as monitoring the income and expenditure, before discussion at whole governing body level. Here is an example of terms of reference for this committee.

LAs will often provide training on school finances for headteachers and governors. This is an excellent way of gaining a greater understanding of how the budget is set out etc. Please contact your local governor support officer for further information.

Governors Cymru Service provides an overview of information about school finances. Why not have a look at the following:

Part 4 of the handbook.

Governor Guide on Governors and Finance

Is your governing body confident in its understanding of budget headings and regulations?
Do you work effectively with a Local Management of Schools manager?

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