Piloting Our Way Through January

Posted  27th January 2016

The warmest winter on record so far in some parts of the country. And in schools and academies everywhere the pace is hotting up – accounting returns to be made and budgets for 2016/17 to be prepared. But first, our regular look at what the EFA have in store for us.

EFA Calendar and News

The EFA provides details of deadlines, events and publications in its online business cycle available through the EFA Information Exchange. Here is what to expect over the next few months.


  • Reminder: academy trusts' August accounts returns due 31 January 2016
  • Pupil premium: third payment made for 2015 to 2016


  • Spring census: academy returns to be submitted by 17 February


  • Year 7 catch-up premium for 2015 to 2016 issued
  • Publication: academy trusts' budget forecast guidance
  • Publication: March accounts return and guide
Also make sure you sign up to the weekly EFA news bulletin, there are bulletins for both LA maintained schools and academies.

Budget Planning

Whether you work in an academy or a maintained school, you will shortly be required to prepare a budget for the coming year.

The DfE has released some information about finding levels for 2016/2017. Per pupil rates for the Dedicated Schools Grant will remain the same as 2015/16 and the minimum funding guarantee of -1.5 per cent per pupil is still in place for 2016/17. Similarly, pupil premium rates for 2016/17 will be maintained at 2015/16 levels. Academies need to be aware that ESG will be cut by £600 million over the next five years. The first tranche of this cut will occur in 2016/17 when the per pupil rate will be reduced to £77 (down from £87 per pupil in 2015/16). In addition there are pressures from increases in national insurance, local government pay rises, teachers pay rises, increases in pension contributions. Schools and academies should also start thinking about the impact that a national funding formula (fair funding) might have on them. There will be hard choices to make as you develop 3 – 5 year plans. School Business Services budget planning tool can help you. A year ago we added indicative national insurance tables for 2016/2017 – which have proved to be spot on with the recent announcement of new tables. We have also added new support staff salary scales based on the offer made to local government staff. For more details click here. If you are not using SBS Online, why not sign up for a free online demo – Visit www.schoolbusinessservices.co.uk/sbs-online/ Though the Government is keen to stress that it is maintaining school budgets, the cost pressures will inevitably mean that there is less money available to spend of both staff and non-staff resources. With most schools and academies spending 75-80% of their income on staff – inevitable questions will arise about getting value for money from staff. A few years ago the National Audit Office issued a document to the Chairs of Governing Bodies that introduced a framework for managing staff costs. The framework supported schools wishing to make tactical efficiency savings, a strategic operational realignment or sustainable cost reduction. A number of schools found the methodology useful and they now manage and review their staff costs routinely as part of the business cycle. There are a number of ways improve value for money, such as collaboration across schools and academies (see our November blog ) and making better use of the resources in school ( for example research by the Education Endowment Foundation). If you need any help in preparing your budget or conducting a review of resources, please call us on 0345 222 1551, option 2. Reference - National Audit Office: A framework for managing staff costs.

News Shorts

Few things you might have missed:

And those that remember January 1975!

January, sick and tired you've been hanging on me. Time it's a flyer. English summers are gone. So long.