LESSONS LEARNT: BUDGETS AND FUNDING – THE KNOWNS AND THE KNOWN UNKNOWNS


Andy Jones
25 September '23

3 minute read

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At our recent annual event for Academy Leaders. STAYING COMPLIANT. LEARNING LESSONS. LOOKING FORWARD. Julia Harnden from ASCL kicked the day off with a thought-provoking session covering the key changes in funding for academies for the 2023/24 and 2024/25 year.

If you’d like to read the full overview of the event which imparted some words of wisdom and top tips to assist those working in the fast-moving sector take a look here.

Julia highlighted some of the key points academy leaders need to work through as part of their annual budget setting process. Highlighting some of the key budget issues academies are currently facing.

Changes in the 2023/24 year funding for academies include the details around the timing and amount of the Teachers’ Pay Additional Grant (TPAG). Julia highlighted that although the TPAG has been calculated to cover 3% of the 6.5% teachers’ pay award, there will be some winners and losers in allocation of the funding at an individual school or trust level. As a result it’s vital to understand what the additional funding will look like for each school or trust. Not least of all so academy leaders understand how much is therefore effectively having to be funded from existing funding levels or reserves.

Attendees were keen to access Julia’s expertise and knowledge with a number of questions around funding for the RAAC issues in schools and how the funding from the DfE for “reasonable revenue costs” could be likely to play out.

Julia went on to outline some key points relating to the National Funding Formula for schools for the 2024/25 year. Including challenges around SEND improvement plans along with the notional SEN funding. Particularly as much of the funding may not directly reach the front line in many schools or trusts.

In relation to budgets, Julia provided a great reminder of the key rules of engagement with any budgeting process – you can only use the best information available at the time. Setting key assumptions cannot be the responsibility of just one person and ultimately, budget setting is a team sport.

Attendees then heard about some of the current challenges in budget setting for academies. Including the critical importance of balancing financial precision with strategic success in the process. The challenge being to identify which outcomes are the most important in delivering strategic success for the trust and given these priorities, where should the available resources be spent.

If you’re interested in understanding more about the current and future funding landscape or the strategies around your budget setting process, please contact Julia at ASCL.

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