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Leadership webinar: future-proofing through budgeting (video and webchat)

Discussion in 'Senior Leadership Team' started by AndrewFIS, Jan 5, 2017.

  1. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    Planning for the future requires careful budgeting. Yet, with so many variables, how effective can it really be?

    As part of the TES Leadership webinar series, I’ll be putting your questions to Howard Jackson, the founder of HCSS Education, part of Access Group.

    We will examine how schools can take a systematic approach and keep their plans on track.

    Post your questions below now - and, if you can, join in our live webchat on January 18 at 4.30pm.

    Before that, you can watch a video we’ve made in which Howard and I discuss the issues, with key advice for school leaders.


    To access all the videos in the TES Leadership series, plus an exclusive database of grants available to schools, become a TES Leadership subscriber.
  2. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member


    Don't forget to submit your questions below ahead of tomorrow's webchat.

    Thank you.
  3. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member

    The webinar video will be available for seven days in this thread. If you wish to view the webinar after 24th January or to access all the videos in the TES Leadership series, plus an exclusive database of grants available to schools, become a TES Institutional subscriber. You can find out more information here.
  4. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member

    Good afternoon and welcome to today’s webchat.

    The TES Leadership webchats give you the opportunity to put your questions to industry experts about key school management and operational issues.

    In a few moments I will hand you over to Andrew, who is editor of FIS, who will be hosting this week's hour-long webchat.

    Andrew and this week's guest, leadership expert panel member Howard Jackson, the founder of HCSS Education, part of Access Group, who will be available for the next hour to answer your questions.

    If you have any questions please submit them below. Don't worry if we run out of time, any unanswered questions will be responded to and posted on this thread later this week.

    I'll now hand you over to Andrew.

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    Whilst TES Global and the panel of leadership experts make every effort to ensure the high quality and accuracy of the Content, TES Global and each leadership expert makes no representation or warranty (express or implied) concerning the Content. Neither TES Global nor any leadership expert will be responsible for any damage or loss related to any use of the Content.

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  5. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    Hello and welcome to this webchat on futureproofing school finances. Joining me is Howard Jackson, who is founder of HCSS Education, part of Access Group. For those of you following this thread, please feel free to post your query. Remember to refresh your page to see the updates as they appear.

    Thanks for joining us, Howard.

    Firstly, do you think that schools budget as effectively as they could? Could they do better?
  6. Howard_Jackson

    Howard_Jackson New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    Good Afternoon
  7. Howard_Jackson

    Howard_Jackson New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    There is clearly a huge difference between schools and how effectively they budget and this could be down to many factors, for example; have schools got the necessary experience and skills to budget well? Have they got the software/tools to budget well? For example HCSS Budgeting. Are they following a strategy of ‘it’s always been done like this’? Are they taking the path of least resistance? It’s quite clear from my experience that many schools have grasped the concept of putting the school’s resources behind the strategy and vision but so many still look at all of the costs before allocating resources to support their development plan. Schools are still allocating resources on the basis of what they can afford rather than what the right thing to do is. Another concern of mine is that schools are not always very skilled at prioritising the impact of objectives within their strategic plan; it is critical to ensure that the objectives that are going to have the biggest impact on teaching and learning are funded first.
  8. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    Some schools zero-budget and ask every department to "pitch" for a budget. Can this be effective?
  9. Howard_Jackson

    Howard_Jackson New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    There is no doubt, in my opinion, that zero budgeting is the start of the process; schools need to ensure that everyone understands the strategy, vision and the direction that the school is travelling in i.e. everyone has to buy into the school’s priorities. If department heads pitch for a budget allocation, it should be heavily weighted and determined by the agreed priorities. This methodology can take 2 or 3 budget cycles to embed in the school process, but once it has been, the budgeting process is much more effective. It absolutely makes sense to me to constantly allocate resources to the priorities of the school development plan rather than adding inflation increases to previous year’s budgets, without applying rigorous scrutiny to those budgets. What made sense a number of years ago in terms of budget allocations does not necessarily make sense now as priorities can change very quickly.
  10. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    Other schools add a few percentage points to the previous year's budget. What's your view on this approach?
  11. Howard_Jackson

    Howard_Jackson New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    In my view, this is a poor way to budget, it’s often the case that they have been doing it this way for many years, this methodology only works if the base number that is annually inflated is correct in the first place (which is very unlikely) and as mentioned previously, priorities can change fairly quickly. When this methodology is used, there tends to be a less rigorous review of existing costs and contracts.
  12. chriss12345

    chriss12345 New commenter

    We always worked on the basis that departments would get a basic maintenance budget but then would need to bid for available development funding. A couple of years ago we reduced the basic amounts in order to increase money available for developments-interestingly, nobody screamed!!
  13. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    What, in your opinion, is the best practice approach to effective budgeting? How can schools account for unknowns such as staff leaving?
  14. Howard_Jackson

    Howard_Jackson New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    I absolutely agree Chris, when I was a SBM that’s exactly what I did but before that I worked hard to engage all of the budget holders in agreeing what our priorities were in a strategy day. Once agreed it’s much more difficult to disagree with the budget allocations being based on need. Some budgets were significantly increased and some budgets were actually reduced.
  15. Howard_Jackson

    Howard_Jackson New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    I’m a great believer in effective budgeting being determined by understanding the short, medium and long term financial impact of every decision made. I believe that 5-year budgeting is the most effective, as often trends e.g. the financial impact of changes in pupil numbers, cannot be fully recognised within short-term projections. There has never been a long period of stability in school budgeting and therefore whatever model is created has to be extremely flexible and allow the ability to recognise the impact of any changes fairly quickly, such as staff leaving. Staffing is clearly a huge percentage of the budget and therefore a school should take every opportunity to review its current operation if a member of the team leaves or new appointments are being considered. The most ineffective strategy for resource allocation is when a member of staff leaves, and the school appoints a like for like replacement without a full review of whether things could be done differently. The emphasis on effective budgeting should be value for money rather than costs and it’s my belief that we should stop talking about costs in running a school and recognising everything as an investment in the future of the pupils we serve. In this context value for money could be paying less for a service, paying more for goods or services that support greater outcomes, it could be paying the same for a better service or the ultimate aim: getting better goods or services at a lower price – the holy grail. As a business manager, that’s what i was constantly striving for.
  16. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    Would school business managers benefit from a commercial background and/or should they consider a secondment? Are there things they could learn/introduce from such an experience?
  17. chriss12345

    chriss12345 New commenter

    What about benchmarking? Is there a reliable benchmarking tool or are comparisons with other schools actually very hard to measure?
  18. Howard_Jackson

    Howard_Jackson New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    There is no question school business managers (SBMs) who have worked predominantly in the public sector would benefit from a secondment into the commercial sector. The opposite is also true: that SBMs that have come from a commercial background would benefit from a secondment in the public sector, especially to gain an understanding of the unique context they will be operating within in the education sector. My experience has taught me that the quality of the SBM is more important than their background and experience. I have worked with many excellent SBMs who have worked their way through the ranks from secretary to the Head teacher to become an outstanding SBM. I have also worked very closely with well qualified SBMs with a commercial background who in my opinion are not good enough. Clearly the reverse is also true. The move to an academy regime has certainly created a skills gap; there is a greater demand on SBMs to produce more technically complex accounts.
  19. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    We plan to answer this in a moment, Chris -- stay tuned!
  20. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    Is it possible/feasible for SBMs to also incorporate other functions such as IT and HR, as many schools insist?

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