Good financial management is essential in establishing a successful school and a clear understanding of budgets enables the school to plan with confidence.
That is why the School Finance Team have been providing financial management services to schools for many years.
Summary of service
The School Finance team provides a range of financial services to schools to support head teachers and governing bodies to improve outcomes for children and get the most out of their budgets. The team provide a full accounting and budgeting support service to help schools plan and monitor their school budget.
Currently within Oldham, 91 schools buy into the finance service, 48 Premier plus, 31 Premier, 5 standard and 7 Basic.
The Service always strives to provide the highest quality services, and welcomes and acts upon comments from its customers to aid continuous improvement of the services provided. In addition to services provided free of charge, schools can buy into the Basic, Standard, Premier or Premier plus service.
These services include:
- Calculation and notification of School Budget Share.
- Preparation of current year’s annual budget plan.
- Budget monitoring and management.
- Strategic budget planning.
- Support on FMS6.
- Advice on Cheque Book Management.
Benefits of the service
We provide visits to schools by accountants choosing the premier and premier plus service twice a year to calculate a budget plan for the current year. This will include an estimate of the school’s balance to be carried into the following financial year, detailed costings for each member of staff employed in the school and a 2 or 3 year projected budget plan.
Following the meeting and discussions, the school will receive the completed budget plan as well as staffing information sheets which provide detailed information on how the staffing budgets for each financial year have been calculated.
The premier plus service also reconciles and balances the school FMS6 system to Agresso every month, analysing salary expenditure to ensure it is correct, producing accurate and meaningful reports for schools and Governing Bodies, inputting and allocating your budgets on the school’s system, ensures the school system is mapped correctly for CFR and check and produce reports of outstanding orders and invoices.
The team seeks to continually improve the service itcan offer to schools by working with or being part of other groups and organisations including other Local Authority Services.
Efficient and very supportive, saves us many hours of work and by an expert too.
- Services are provided by trained, committed and experienced staff.
- Officers are experienced in the use of the council’s financial systems.
- Officers will ensure compliance with all statutory and current legislation; central government guidelines and council procedures are complied with.
- Easy access to officers for support and advice.
- On-site support for some finance service levels.
- Striving for continuous improvement and development in effective financial management.
- The team seeks to continually improve the service it can offer to schools by working with or being part of other groups and organisations including other Local Authority Services.
Schools can buy into the Basic, Standard, and Premier of Premier plus service. The elements included in each package of support are:
|A. Calculation and notification of School Budget Share|
|Calculation and notification of School Budget Share, Early Years, High Needs and Pupil Premium budgets|
|School Funding Financial Management Guidance Manual|
|B. Preparation of current year’s annual budget plan|
|Provision of inflation rates, employer on-cost rates and other service costs|
|Provision of budget plan template|
|Calculation of staffing costs based on the information provided by school.|
|Calculation of other costs based on information provided by school.|
|Full budget planning service|
|C. Budget monitoring and management|
|School support to provide:
|D. Strategic budget planning|
|Production of a three year strategic budget plan incorporating pupil forecasts and changes to funding formula, pay awards etc|
|E. Supporting schools with deficit budgets|
|Review and recalculation of budgets
Preparation of a recovery plan
|Attend meetings with Governors/HR/ School Improvement to effectively review and verify budget position.|
|F. Agresso Queries|
|Co-ordination service for Agresso payroll and non-payroll queries between service provider and the school.|
|Newsletter with Agresso reports|
|G. Support on FMS6|
|Provide Monthly FMS Procedures Check List to ensure budget information is correct and reconciled to authority financial management system.|
|Provide simple monitoring statement (comparison of budget to actual expenditure )|
|Carry out monthly FMS 6 procedures and carry out or advise on remedial action.|
|Provision of quarterly budget monitoring template for submission to the council.|
|Produce list of outstanding commitments from FMS 6 for potential inclusion on Creditor/ Debtor lists|
|Prepare and submit CFR returns on behalf of schools|
|I. Cheque Book Management|
|Advice in relation to the operation of the school bank account and visit to school to advise on action to set up bank account|
|Support/costing new structures, business ventures etc which are to be funded from delegated budget share|
|K. Schools Financial Value Standard|
|Schools Financial Value Standard including the self-assessment documents, model policies, procedures, terms of reference and Generic support/advice to school to meet the Standard|
|Generic support/advice to school to meet the Standard|
From 2014 you can purchase a number of additional services to support your current SLA.
1. Completion of Out turn Statement ready for submission to LA
Your designated Accountant will visit the school 4 times a year to assist you on completion of your statutory quarterly return to the LA. This will include:
- Identification and where possible explanation of major variances and their effect on the budget.
- Corrections of actual expenditure where necessary.
- Forecast of budget out-turn position based on in-year monitoring.
2. Health Check
- Equivalent of 2 days support tailored to individual school needs.
3. Tailored Training
- Tailored training support available for Headteachers; Governors or Finance staff.
- Costs will vary depending on whether for an individual; school or group of schools and scope.
In 2014/15 the checking of timesheets will be charged as an additional service and will involve
- Verifying the timesheets processed and authorised by the school to the vision system.
For Schools not wishing to pay additionally for this option we will provided full guidance on how and when it is necessary to carry out further investigations
5. Bi Monthly/Quarterly Monitoring/Bursarial Service
This option is available with all levels of SLA. For example Premier Plus schools may want to consider scheduling an additional quarterly visit to occur just in advance of Governing Body Meetings whereas a school not buying into the Premier Plus SLA may want to consider buying in additional support as required.
These visits can be used at the discretion of the school on any financial work, but may cover some of the following aspects:
- Financial overview/monitoring of the cumulative School position relative to the current year budget.
- Identification and where possible explanation of major variances and their effect on the full year budget.
- Monitoring of additional funding received and its application within the budgeted income and expenditure.
- Dealing, at school, with queries arising from Headteacher and Admin staff, or errors arising from postings to school accounts and their subsequent correction.
Any schools wishing to consider this option should contact Liz Caygill on 0161 770 1012
6. Miscellaneous Support
A number of additional ‘add-on’s’ are available to all those schools if the options below are not included in the package you chosen (at an additional cost – see Prices) and these include:
- Provision of an individual budget document which clearly sets out the Schools , Early Years, High Needs and Pupil Premium budgets, the data used and the principles of formula.
- Budget Plan template.
- Raising debtor accounts.
- Consistent Financial Reporting Return.
- Provision of self-assessment documents, model policies, procedures, terms of reference to meet the Schools Financial Value Standard.
7. Schools using Agresso
Quarterly school visits for schools using Agresso as their financial management system and will include:
- Monitoring of salaries and wages budgets.
- Budget Monitoring and completion of outturn report including explanation of major variances and their effect on the budget.
All schools were emailed on 16th March 2016 with details and costs of the service level agreements we are offering for 2016-17.
Packages are available at an annual lump sum charge plus an additional amount based upon staff contracts.
Schools will be charged via journal transfer.
Where tailored charges are agreed with individual schools, these will be notified separately.
An excellent service which is good value for money.
The service level agreement is for the financial year April 2016 – March 2017. If schools wish to alter the service level agreement they will be required to give 3 months’ notice from the date they wish to exit the contract.
Ordering & Contact
If you want to discuss any of our services, or require support for other areas of financial administration, management or costing please contact Liz Caygill on 0161 770 1012, or use the form below.