The Department for Education has issued further support to schools and academies to increase the value for money delivered – giving support to save £1 billion a year.
We would urge all schools and academies (both staff and governors) to take note of the support as they deal with the challenge of smaller budgets.
School’s Buying Strategy
The Department for Education (DfE) has announced the schools’ buying strategy, no doubt in response to criticism from the National Audit Office (see our earlier blog).
The Department states that it aims ‘to support schools to save over £1 billion a year by 2019-20 on their non-staff spend. It aims to help all schools improve how they buy goods and services – allowing them to maximise the resources they can invest in high quality education for their pupils and supporting them in managing cost pressures.’
The guidance seeks to provide support in three key areas:
- Access to buyers’ networks and help with more complex buying
- Practical help and advice on being a smart consumer
- Access to better deals and making buying easier
The strategy document contains numerous hyperlinks to guidance and support available on GOV.UK, these include:
- Negotiating national deals – current deals can already save schools up to 10% on their energy spend and over 40% on the cost of printers, photocopiers and scanners.
- Piloting regional buying hubs to support local schools with services like catering and cleaning, buying collectively to save cash.
- Working with industry experts to develop a digital platform and tools to enable schools to compare suppliers and get the best price.
Workforce Planning Guidance
Schools and academies spend around 70% of their income on staff. It is therefore important to review staff structures as part of the annual school improvement, curriculum and financial planning cycle. These reviews should start from first principles to investigate whether the deployment of staff is as effective and efficient as possible.
To assist schools the department has published workforce planning guidance to support school leadership teams as they review their staff structures; this includes options, questions, and links to further resources for school leaders.
Having access to good financial advice and support is an important part of running an effective school.
The GOV.UK sites pulls together full details of all the support offered by the DfE on its ‘health and efficiency’ page. The page provides details of consultants who are able to support schools and academies by undertaking financial health checks.
School Business Services are listed by the Department as being able to support you and offer advice on running an effective school.